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Period delay FAQs

  1. What is period delay?
  2. How does period delay work?
  3. When is period delay helpful?
  4. What treatments can be used for period delay?
  5. How safe is period delay?
  6. Can period delay medications cause side effects?
  7. How often can you do it?
  8. Do period delay treatments protect against pregnancy?
  9. How will period delay influence my cycle?
  10. Can period delay make your periods heavier?

What is period delay?

If you would like to delay the start of your period because of a special occasion, using a prescription medication like Norethisterone or the pill will enable you to do so. Both Norethisterone and the pill contain artificial hormones that are capable of temporarily influencing your menstrual cycle to postpone your period until it's more convenient.

How does period delay work?

When using a treatment like Norethisterone, it delays menstruation because it prevents the womb lining from being shed, which is usually want happens right before your period starts. It does this by mimicking natural progestogen levels in your body which stimulates the growth of the womb lining cells.

If you are using a combined oral contraceptive such as Yasmin or Microgynon, taking pill packs without a seven day pill-free stretch can delay menstruation for another 21 days. Your seven day break usually induces your period to start, but if this is skipped, your period won't start until your next break.

When is period delay helpful?

Using a period delay treatment can help you stop your period from starting if you're not completely ready for it to start, especially if you can't afford for it to disrupt a holiday, a test or other occasion.

However, for some women it's not just convenient, but can also provide much needed relief from severe premenstrual symptoms, painful, heavy or prolonged periods and endometriosis. It can also be prescribed to women who find that existing medical conditions worsen just before their periods start, such as migraines or epilepsy. The period delay treatment Norethisterone has been used to treat women with advanced breast cancer.

What treatments can be used for period delay?

Two types of hormonal treatments can be used to postpone periods, the one is the high dose progestogen medication Norethisterone and the other is the combined oral contraceptive pill.

Norethisterone may be a suitable alternative period delay medication for women who can't use the pill, although it doesn't provide the same contraceptive cover.

How safe is period delay?

Period delay isn't likely to be dangerous, as long as it's only done sporadically, with reasonable breaks in-between and with the approval of a medical professional.

Can period delay medications cause side effects?

Side effects are unusual and if they do occur they are mostly mild and tend to pass quickly. These common side effects may include headaches, low libido, stomach pains, breast tenderness and bloating. Anything more serious or disruptive should be reported to your doctor straight away.

How often can you do it?

Doctors generally recommend that you don't delay your period for more than two weeks while using Norethisterone. Women who are using the pill for period delay should not do so more than once within a cycle, unless done under the supervision of a doctor.

Do period delay treatments protect against pregnancy?

Only the pill can protect against pregnancy if it is used for period delay purposes, but Norethisterone doesn't. This is why it's important to take additional contraceptive measures if you are using Norethisterone. To ensure that the pill provides effective cover, especially if it's a phasic pill that requires you to take different doses at different points in the month, use it with clear instructions from a doctor.

How will period delay influence my cycle?

Delaying your period shouldn't disrupt your cycle too much. If you're using a short-term treatment like Norethisterone, your period should return as normal after two to four days after you've stopped taking it. If you are using your normal contraceptive pill for period delay, your period should return as normal on your next pill free week after the skipped one. If any abnormalities occur that you are worried about, it's worth consulting your doctor.

Can period delay make your periods heavier?

Delaying your period once in a while shouldn't make a big difference, but it's possible that your period might be slightly heavier when it starts again, especially if you are using a treatment like Norethisterone which stimulates growth of the womb lining.