How Does Period Delay Work?
12th April 2019
As any woman can tell you, periods can be painful, stressful and massively uncomfortable. They come with a whole host of delightful premenstrual symptoms, including stomach cramps, bloating, food cravings, mood swings, bad skin, back pain and disturbed sleep. But despite all that, most women would tell you that above all else, periods are an inconvenience.
Periods can get in the way of daily life and cause disruption to special events. If you’re going on holiday then you may not feel as comfortable using the pool while on your period (although you’re perfectly safe to do so, as long as you’re wearing a tampon), and you may be worried about the availability of female hygiene products in a foreign country. Especially if you’re away on your honeymoon then you probably won’t want to have it (and your sex life) interrupted by your period.
It doesn’t even have to be something special like a holiday or big event. A lot of women find that periods can disrupt daily life, especially at work. If you have a big project or presentation premenstrual symptoms like stomach cramps and headaches can lead to a lack of focus and concentration.
The Contraceptive Pill
Of course, periods are something that we can’t avoid. Or are they? There are a number of ways in which you can avoid your period and the inconvenience that it brings. If you are a regular taker of an everyday combined contraceptive pill then you will have no periods at all, as will 10-15% of users of the progesterone-only pill. Also known as the “mini-pill”, this can often lead women not to have periods at all, but equally a lot of women experience very irregular periods (or “spotting”), while a lot notice no difference in their menstrual cycles at all.
The Period Delay Pill
So what about those women who are not (and don’t want to be) on the contraceptive pill? There are a number of reasons that a woman may decide that the pill is not for her. Some women are allergic or intolerant to the ingredients in the pill (particularly oestrogen), others find that they experience too many side effects (weight gain, bad skin and mood swings) and some women simply find it too difficult to get into a routine of taking tablets at the exact same time every day.
If you are someone who doesn’t want to be on the contraceptive pill but who finds that your next period is due to fall at a less-than-ideal time, there is a tablet you can try. Norethisterone is a female hormone tablet used to control, regulate or delay a woman’s menstrual cycle. It works by altering your natural hormone levels to delay your period, as it contains progestogen (the synthetic version of the natural female hormone, progesterone). Keeping your progesterone levels artificially high tricks your body into thinking its at a different stage of menstruation, effectively halting your cycle.
How do I use Norethisterone?
If you want to delay your period using Norethisterone then you’ll have to know when your period is due to start (which may mean you have to work backwards to your last period, if you don’t keep track of your cycle regularly). Three days before your next period is due to start, you will start taking Norethisterone, usually at a dose of 1 tablet 3 times a day. Continue with the one-tablet-three-times-a-day routine for as long as you want to delay your period, up until a week after the day it was due to start (so you’ll be taking the tablets for 10 days in total).
It’s important to note that Norethisterone does not effectively cancel your period; it merely delays it. This means that after taking Norethisterone, you should always have a period afterwards and if you don’t then you should take a home test or go to a doctor to see if you are pregnant.