The Independent Pharmacy

Period Delay

Just imagine, you’ve saved up all year for the perfect beach break, your bags are packed, your hotel is booked and then bam! You get your period. Although having a period on holiday, or at another inconvenient time, may not be the end of the world, it is annoying and can put a dampener on your escape. Luckily, we have a solution. Period delay tablets can prevent your period from starting for up to 17 days, giving you control over your menstruation and getting your plans back on track.

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Advice for Period Delay

Why would I need period delay treatment?

There can occasionally be times when it can feel as if it would be entirely inconvenient to have your period. There are a range of circumstances to which this could apply. It could be that you are about to go on a major holiday or physically strenuous expedition, or because you have another special occasion – for example, your wedding day and honeymoon - that you would like to be at liberty to fully enjoy. In these circumstances, it is possible for our Online Pharmacy to supply a course of Provera 10mg tablets or Norethisterone 5mg tablets, which can postpone your period for up to 17 days.

We understand that having a period at an important or special time can be hugely frustrating. We are able to prescribe Norethisterone 5mg tablets, a progesterone hormone, and Provera (medroxyprogesterone) 10mg tablets, a synthetic progesterone. Norethisterone and Provera can only be provided to delay your period for a maximum of 17 days.

What does period delay treatment do?

Period delay treatment:

  • Can delay your period for up to 17 days
  • Should be used 3 days before your period is due
  • Is taken three times daily until one to two days before you want your period
  • Can be delivered quickly and reliably by The Independent Pharmacy
  • Is suitable for use if you are not taking the contraceptive pill

What period delay treatments are available?

Norethisterone is available as a safe, clinically-proven and convenient treatment that is taken three times daily to delay periods for up to 17 days. It gives you the control to have your period at a convenient time in your menstrual cycle. It is also available as the Pfizer branded treatment, Utovlan 5mg tablets.

Provera 10mg tablets are an alternative treatment option for women with a BMI over 30 or aged over 35 where there may be a higher risk of side effects from taking norethisterone.

One pack of Norethisterone 5mg tablets or Provera 10mg tablets (30 tablets) can delay your period for up to 7 days, whilst 2 packs (60 tablets) can be used to delay your period for up to 17 days.

During a woman’s cycle, the levels of oestrogen and progesterone vary, with progesterone levels dropping triggering menstruation. Synthetic progesterones, norethisterone & medroxyprogesterone help to keep your progesterone levels artificially high during your cycle preventing menstrual bleeding.

It is very important to know that norethisterone & medroxyprogesterone are not to be used as a method of contraception and will not prevent pregnancy. Do not take them if you are already taking the contraceptive pill (see below for more details) and they should not be taken by pregnant or breastfeeding women.

When taken according to the directions, norethisterone & medroxyprogesterone will typically delay your period. After you stop taking it, you will have your period within a couple of days. A few women may experience light bleeding or spotting whilst taking period delay treatment, but the vast majority will experience none whatsoever.

Does period delay treatment have any side effects?

It is rare for women to experience side effects from norethisterone or medroxyprogesterone at this strength, but you may experience nausea, breast tenderness, fatigue or headache. In very exceptional circumstances, it can impact upon chronic diseases or interact with certain medicines. However, our Online Pharmacy service can give you more information as required, in addition to the manufacturer’s information leaflet.


There are no non-medicinal alternatives to period delay.

An alternative way of delaying your period and you are on the Combined contraceptive pill already is to run two strips back to back without taking your 7 day break.

Alternatively, you can see your GP and discuss your options, such as the hormonal implant or Mini pill.

Period Delay FAQs

  • Norethisterone is an artificial version of the female hormone progesterone. In the 5mg strength, Norethisterone is primarily used for period delay.

    There may be times when it is inconvenient to have a period (wedding day, holidays etc.) and Norethisterone tablets can delay your period for up to 17 days.

  • You should take Norethisterone three times each day – one 5mg tablet in the morning, at midday, and at night. Norethisterone will be most effective if taken at a similar time each day. These tablets are available in packs of 30, 60 or 90. These correspond to a period delay of 10, 20 and 30 days, respectively.

  • Yes, though the routine will vary depending on your type of contraceptive pill:

    • Fixed dose combined contraceptive pills combine the same combination of oestrogen and progestogen for the duration of the cycle. These require you to have a pill-free week for a withdrawal bleed. You can delay your period by skipping this withdrawal week and immediately starting your next pack.
    • Every Day contraceptive pills contain seven hormone-free pills, which you take instead of having a pill-free week. Delaying your period requires that you take hormones each day. So, with the ED pill, you will need to skip taking these ‘dummy’ pills and immediately start your next pack.
    • Bi-phasic contraceptive pills vary their combination of oestrogen and progestogen, depending on the day of your cycle. To delay your period, you must skip your pill-free week and continue to take the type of pills just before the pill-free week, which is higher in progestogen. This will involve skipping the first section of the pack.
    • The mini pill contains progestogen only. The mini pill contains only 0.35 mg of progestogen. Delaying your period requires three 5mg doses of Norethisterone each day. So, to delay your period, you will need to take Norethisterone on top of your regular contraceptive routine.
  • This is entirely a matter of preference – many women take Norethisterone to avoid menstruating while on holiday or at a significant event.

    There are also some medical reasons why doctors may recommend Norethisterone. It can help women who suffer from heavy or painful periods, endometriosis, and severe premenstrual symptoms. Women at an advanced stage of breast cancer may also be prescribed Norethisterone.

  • Side effects of Norethisterone include:

    • Change in libido
    • Headaches
    • Bloating
    • Nausea
    • Breast tenderness

    If you have been using Norethisterone for a long time, you may notice breakthrough bleeding. Consult your GP immediately if you notice anything unusual whilst on Norethisterone, as there may be some more severe side effects in rare cases.

  • Norethisterone on its own does not prevent pregnancy. So, you should use normal contraceptive methods while delaying your period.

    If you are delaying your period by modifying your contraceptive pill routine, or by combining Norethisterone with the mini pill, you will be protected from pregnancy so long as you use the contraception correctly.

  • To avoid more serious potential side effects, you should take Norethisterone for no more than two weeks if possible. If on the contraceptive pill, you should delay your period only until your next pill-free week unless your GP has advised otherwise.

  • It is usually not dangerous at all to use Norethisterone or the contraceptive pill to delay your period for a short amount of time. There is a low incidence of side effects, even for the mild complications like nausea and headaches.

  • Once you stop taking Norethisterone, your period will likely resume three or four days later. If you are delaying your period with the pill, your withdrawal bleed will occur as normal on the next pill-free week of your cycle.

  • Norethisterone works by preventing the womb lining from being shed. So, it is possible that your period will be somewhat heavier than normal once it resumes. If you have only delayed your period for a short period of time, this should not be too noticeable. This is why you should not delay your period more than once during one menstrual cycle.

  • It is important that you allow your body to have normal cycles so that your hormones go back to their natural cycles. Ideally, you should go several months before delaying your period again.

  • Period delay tablets are suitable for most women who do not take oral contraceptives. Exceptions include women who:

    • Are at risk of blood clots or deep vein thrombosis
    • Have a history of unexplained vaginal bleeding
    • Are allergic to any of the ingredients
    • Are pregnant or breastfeeding
    • Have heart or liver problems
    • Suffer from skin conditions like jaundice or pemphigoid during pregnancy
    • Have porphyria (a blood condition) or pruritus (a severe itching)

    Before you begin delaying your period, you should go over your current medications with your GP. This is because Norethisterone may cause complications when combined with certain other medications.

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