You might have heard of the drug norethisterone or the branded version Utovlan. It is a medication prescribed to delay your period for up to 20 days. I know, that sounds great, right? No need to hassle with your period when you’re about to jet off on a beautiful beach holiday or if you have a stressful week of exams and the last thing you need to add to your workload is your period. But is it safe to delay your period? Does it have wanted effects on the body and fertility? These are some natural worries of women who are thinking of taking this medication but let me ease your concerns.
Norethisterone is a hormone that is used in period delay medications and the way it works is by tricking your body into thinking you are pregnant. By doing this, it prevents the womb lining from breaking down and thus preventing a period. Norethisterone is a synthetic form of the progesterone hormone normally found in our body. When a high level of progesterone is detected by the body, it stimulates the thickening of the lining of the womb as it prepares for the implantation of a fertilised egg. When ovulation occurs, a large amount of progesterone is produced by the body. When this level of progesterone is not maintained by the fertilised egg, the body knows you are not pregnant and stimulates the shedding of the womb lining. So essentially norethisterone maintains this high level of progesterone in the body allowing the womb lining to remain intact and hence delaying your period.
Norethisterone is not a regular medication and does not stop your periods altogether. It just delays it until you are off the medication and your progesterone levels drop. It is also not a contraceptive option so make sure you use protection when having sexual intercourse. The maximum amount of time norethisterone can be taking is up to 20 days if prescribed for period delay purposes.
Utovlan is another period delay medication and just a branded form of norethisterone. It works in the same way and releases a one-off surge of norethisterone in your body. Utlovan is also only regulated for up to 20 days of use and is not a contraception option. Please make sure to use effective and safe birth control while taking on this medication.
Sometimes we regard our periods as a nuisance, an unwanted visitor we have to endure once a month. Periods are actually a great indicator of your fertility. Getting this monthly visit is a sign that we are ovulating meaning our ovaries are releasing an egg once a month. Delaying your period can be worrying as it might seem as though you are also delaying your fertility. As period delay medication is only recommended for short term use for up to 20 days, it does not and should not have an effect on fertility. When norethisterone is stopped, the additional levels of synthetic progesterone diminishes and hence the restorations of natural hormone levels in the body. Continually introducing these additional hormones into your body can put you at an increased risk of side effects, hence they should be used for a maximum of 20 days unless otherwise prescribed by doctors.
If you are pregnant, you should not be having a period anyways. Once an egg is fertilised by sperm, the body increases the levels of progesterone (exactly what norethisterone does) to maintain the lining of the uterus to ensure the embryo can implant and grow. You should not need to take norethisterone if you are pregnant. More importantly, if you do take the medication during the first 4 months of pregnancy, there is an increased risk of the baby developing birth defects. Make sure to let your doctor know if there is a chance you might be pregnant.
Changing the regiment of your combined pill and mini-pill can also act as a way to delaying your period, so you will not need norethisterone. You can delay your period using the combined pill by skipping your monthly pill-free week and starting a new pack right after you finish your previous one. Norethisterone is contraindicated with combined pill use but it can be used with the mini-pill, however, this needs to be assessed by your doctor to make sure you are not at a high risk of blood clots.
At Dr Felix, we offer Norethisterone (generic version) and Utovlan (branded version) for your period delay needs. On our website, you can find a dedicated page to help you get a better understanding of period delay tablets.
Don’t let your period ruin your special occasions, talk to your doctor about delaying your future period.