Period delay information

How to delay your period

There are ways you can delay your period if it’s going to occur at an inconvenient time. This involves hormonal treatment which you can use as a one-off or as a continual form of contraception. 

 

Why delay your period?

There are plenty of reasons you might want to delay your period, each of them equally valid. For example, if you’re going on holiday, taking part in an athletic event, have an important date or exams. It might be that menstruating would get in the way of you being able to enjoy something, or those other symptoms, like PMS, might make it hard to focus. For women with endometriosis, delaying your period can provide relief from the symptoms of the condition. 

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How can you delay your period?

There are two ways you can delay your period, either using the combined contraceptive pill or taking Norethisterone, which is a type of progesterone hormone. These treatments are not suitable for everyone however, particularly those with certain health concerns so it’s essential that you discuss your medical history with your doctor or pharmacist first. 

 

The combined pill 

If you are already on the combined pill, it’s very straightforward to delay your period. Instead of waiting the usual 7 days between pill packs, start the next one right away. This means you won’t have a period for another 21 days when you reach the end of the next pill pack. 

The downside to this is that if you’ve just started the pill then you might experience breakthrough bleeding, which is a common side effect in the first month or two. This is where you bleed continuously throughout your whole cycle which usually stops after the first month. 

 

Norethisterone 

Norethisterone is a progesterone-based treatment which is available on prescription and can be used on one-off occasions. You should start taking it 3 days before your period is due to start. After you stop taking it, you’ll get your period roughly 3 days after. For example, if you are going on holiday for 2 weeks and your period is due on the first day of your holiday, take your first Norethisterone tablet 3 days before your holiday and keep taking them daily until the end of the 2 weeks. You’ll then have 3 days between stopping the tablets and your period returning. 
 

Is it dangerous to delay your period?

Taking Noresthisterone or using the combined pill to delay your period occasionally is harmless. However, it’s not advised to do this on a regular basis. Norethisterone, like the pill, can also cause side effects such as mood swings, breast tenderness and bloating so it’s not necessarily a ‘cure-all’ option. 

 

How does Norethisterone work?

During your menstrual cycle, your hormone levels fluctuate at key stages. After the ovaries release an egg (ovulation) the progesterone hormone spikes, maintaining the thick womb lining and preparing the body for a potential pregnancy. In the days before your period, the progesterone level drops and the womb lining starts to shed, which leaves your body as menstrual blood. Taking Norethisterone maintains the level of progesterone so that your period can’t occur.

 

Sources

Patient Information Leaflet> Norethisterone: https://www.medicines.org.uk/emc/files/pil.1494.pdf

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