The Independent Pharmacy

How To Delay Your Periods - And Is This Safe To Do?

Scott McDougall
Scott McDougallMPharmDirector & Registered Manager

Reviewed on 29 Sep 2022

Let’s face it: periods can be inconvenient. Not only can they be painful, but they can also disrupt important life events and occasions (like wedding days, honeymoons, or physically demanding activities), so it’s easy to see why many women would prefer to delay them.

There are a number of ways to delay a period (or skip one altogether), including using a period delay treatment or the contraceptive pill; so, how easy is it to delay a period? And more importantly, is it safe to delay one?

Is it safe to delay your period?

The short answer is yes: for the majority of women, it’s perfectly safe to delay a period. However, not all period delay treatments are suitable for all women, so it’s important to consult your GP or pharmacist to ensure the treatment is safe for you to use. You should also be aware of any possible side effects before taking any period delay medication.

In addition to specific treatments that delay periods, it’s possible to delay a period using the contraceptive pill. For most women, using the contraceptive pill to delay or skip a period is not dangerous. Of course, if you’re not sure about whether it’s safe for you to delay a period, you should speak to your doctor.

How to delay your period

There are a few different period delay pills you can use to hold off a period. These can delay your period for up to 17 days and should be taken 3 days before a period is due. You should stop taking the treatment 1 to 2 days before you want your period to commence.

Before taking any period delay treatment, it’s important to note the following:

  • They do not provide contraception and therefore will not prevent pregnancy
  • They should be taken as a one-off; they are not for stopping periods altogether
  • They will not stop a period after it has already started
  • They are not suitable for pregnant or breastfeeding women

Delaying a period using Norethisterone

Norethisterone can be used to safely delay a period for up to 17 days. It is a synthetic version of the female sex hormone progesterone, which maintains the lining of the womb. Progesterone levels usually drop before a period, but by taking Norethisterone the womb’s lining is maintained and periods are delayed.

For more information about warnings and side effects when taking Norethisterone, visit the product information page.

Norethisterone 5mg Tablets
Norethisterone 5mg Tablets
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Delaying a period using Utovlan

Utovlan is simply a branded version of Norethisterone, therefore it performs the same function as its generic counterpart (i.e. delaying the start of a period by maintaining high levels of the sex hormone progesterone).

Side effects when taking Norethisterone or Utovlan are rare, but can be experienced by between 1 in 10 and 1 in 100 women. For more information on the side effects of Utovlan, visit the product information page.

Utovlan 5mg Tablets
Utovlan 5mg Tablets
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Delaying a period using Provera

Norethisterone is not suitable for all women, therefore Provera is an alternative (but equally effective) option for delaying periods in women who cannot take Norethisterone or Utovlan. Provera contains Medroxyprogesterone which, like Norethisterone, is a synthetic alternative to progesterone that can delay the menstrual cycle.

Provera is an ‘off-label’ period delay treatment, meaning that period delay is not its primary use. However, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that Provera can be safely and effectively used to delay periods. For more information about warnings and possible side effects, visit the product information page.

If you’re looking for tablets to delay your period, start a free consultation with The Independent Pharmacy today.

Alternative ways to delay your period

It is also possible to use the contraceptive pill to delay a period. Using the pill to delay a period is generally safe, although this can depend on the type of pill you are taking. If you’re unsure, you should discuss your options with your GP.

Delaying a period using the combined pill

If you are already taking a combined contraceptive pill, you can delay your period by taking two strips back-to-back without your usual 7-day break (referred to as the “pill free interval”). Most combined pills (such as Microgynon, Rigevidon and Yasmin) can be used in this way, but if you use a phasic pill you should consult your doctor if you want to delay a period.

Delaying a period using the mini pill

Most women who use the mini pill (known as a progestogen-only pill) will not experience periods, while some may experience “spotting” (light bleeding) or irregular periods. Therefore, it’s not always possible to tell whether your period will be delayed when taking the mini pill.

Help with delaying your period

If you wish to speak to a specialist about the best options for delaying your period, start an online consultation with The Independent Pharmacy or contact our team for further information.

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