Norethisterone is a tablet that a woman can use to delay her period. These tablets contain synthetic progestogen, a female hormone involved in menstruation. Usually, it is a drop in progestogen levels which initiates a woman’s period. Norethisterone prevents the womb lining from being shed at its normal point in the cycle, causing the period to be delayed.
Norethisterone is also prescribed to treat other menstrual problems including heavy periods and severe pain. Consult with your GP if you think you might need Norethisterone for these purposes.
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:
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:
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:
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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