How do I delay my period?

Reviewed: September 16, 2021
antibiotics and the pill
Whether you're off on holiday or you just can't face the cramps that month sometimes you need to delay your period - and here's how.

Each month Mother Nature drops us a nice little reminder (it’s not actually nice or little at all) that we’ve completed another month of not being pregnant and whether you like it or not, she keeps on coming each month.

Some months you might be wanting to delay your period slightly, whether it be you’re off on holiday or you just can’t face the cramps that month. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to do this, however there are some options to explore. Here at The Lowdown we’re always looking for new ways to help you, and we think that this guide might do just that!

The combined pill

If you take the combined contraceptive pill, you can delay your period by taking two packets back to back. However, how you do this will be determined so by which pill you take – so be sure to check first!

Monophasic 21-day pills (Microgynon, Cilest, Maexeni)

You take a combined pill for 21 days, followed by seven days without pills, and it’s within these seven days that your period usually comes. However to delay the period, you must start a new packet of pills straight after you finish the last pill to miss out the seven day break.

Everyday Pill (ED) (Microgynon ED and Lorynon ED)

You take a combined pill every day. The first 21 pills are active pills and the next seven pills are inactive (or dummy pills) and is when you have your period. To delay your period, miss out the dummy pills, and start the active pills in a new packet straight away.

Phasic 21 day pills (Binovium, Qqlaira and Logyon)

The mix of hormones in each pill is different, depending on which phase you’re in. You need to take these pills in the correct order to have effective contraception. Ask your pharmacist, community contraception clinic or GP for more info.

It’s reassuring to know that taking your contraceptive pills as above will not affect how they work as contraceptives, you will still be protected. However avoid taking more than two packets without a break, unless advised by your GP.

If you are unsure which pill you are on, speak to your pharmacist or GP.

There are risks you could experience side effects like:

  • Feeling sick
  • Being sick
  • Diarrhea
  • Unexpected vaginal bleeding

Progestogen-only contraceptive pill

If you are taking a progestogen-only contraceptive pill, you cannot delay your period by taking 2 packets back-to-back. However you may be able to switch to the combined contraceptive pill or take an alternative medication that will help delay your period.

Period delay tablets

If you are wanting to delay your period, and you are not on any contraceptive pill, then you will need to speak to your GP. They could prescribe you a medication called norethisterone (which is available on the NHS) and helps to delay a period.

Norethisterone is a synthetic progestogen that is similar to the progesterone hormone we naturally produce. During a menstrual cycle, the level of progesterone hormone falls, which causes the lining of your womb to shed and your period to occur. If progesterone – or norethisterone – is taken throughout, the levels don’t drop which prevents menstruation.

If prescribed, your GP will advise you when to take it and for how long. You will normally be prescribed three norethisterone tablets a day, starting three to four days before you expect your period to begin and your period should arrive two to three days after you stop taking the medication.

It’s important to note that norethisterone does NOT act as a contraceptive when used in this way, so you will need to make sure you’re protected in other ways. The success rate of this varies between women.

Can I take norethisterone with other medicines?

Make sure you tell your doctor or pharmacist during your consultation if you are already taking any medicines, even if you’ve tried over the counter and herbal medicines before norethisterone. It’s fine to take with painkillers such as paracetamol, ibuprofen and aspirin.

Who shouldn’t take norethisterone?

Norethisterone is safe for the majority of women but it should not be used for women who have suffered with liver tumours, breast cancer, a history of jaundice during pregnancy and severe vascular disease.

Some women taking norethisterone side effects such as:

  • Breast tenderness
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Disturbance in mood and sex drive

An alternative to delay your period

Certain forms of contraception, such as the injection or the Mirena coil, are known to make periods lighter or stop them altogether (of course this isn’t the case for all women). If you’re finding you’re wanting to delay your period each month that it might be worth looking into a different contraception that may do this.

This guide was brought to you by The Lowdown. We are the world’s first contraception review platform, providing real-life experiences from thousands of reviews collected from our community of men and women.

Why not leave us a review of your contraceptive experience? Whether you’ve got good things to say about the Mirena coil or had trouble with implant removal, we want to hear about it! Tell us about your experience and help people around the world find the right method for them.