Period delay service
Period delay tablets are pills you can take to stop and delay your period. They need to be taken before you expect your period to begin and will delay your period until about three days after you have taken your last tablet.
- Complete a short medical questionnaire
- Highlight a preferred treatment
- Doctor reviews your answers and notes your preferred treatment
Important: If your preferred treatment is not clinically suitable, your doctor will offer an alternative or advise you on what to do next.
Period delay treatments available
Norethisterone Period Delay Tablets
How to stop your period
There’s two main ways to stop your periods:
- Period delay tablets, like norethisterone
- Hormonal contraception, like the pill
You can use period delay tablets to stop your period from coming for as long as you need to, up to 30 days at a time. This can be useful if you’re going on holiday or for any other reasons that you might want to push back getting your period.
You can also stop your period using a few different types of hormonal contraception. Some are more likely to stop your period than others though, and generally they aren’t for short-term use.
Hormonal contraceptives that can stop your periods include:
- The combined contraceptive pill – can stop your period over a longer period of time but you can get light bleeding (spotting) if you don’t take a break every few months. So if you want to guarantee no period bleeding, you’ll need to have a 7-day break every 1-3 months when you might sometimes have period-like bleeding.
- The mini pill – can stop periods over a long period of time (usually after 3-6 months of use), but there is still some risk of light bleeding (spotting).
- The hormonal coil – can stop your periods, but it takes a few months before they stop.
- The contraceptive injection – about half of people who use the injection will stop having periods.
- The contraceptive implant – about a third of people with the implant stop having periods, but this only applies from one year after getting the implant.
Please note: where a generic product has been ordered we may use a range of manufacturers to provide you with your medication, in order to maintain our service levels.
What do period delay tablets do?
Period delay tablets are a treatment used to stop your period for a set amount of time. Period delay tablets are not contraceptives, so you can’t use them to protect against pregnancy.
There’s 2 types of period delay tablet we provide:
- Norethisterone 5mg (brand names Utovlan and Primolut)
- Medroxyprogesterone 10mg (brand name Provera)
Both of these types of period delay tablets use a version of the hormone progesterone. This hormone is used by your body to help time your periods. When the level of progesterone in your body drops, that’s the signal to start another period. If you’re taking progesterone tablets then you trick your body into waiting a little longer before starting the next period.
Norethisterone is licensed specifically for period delay, but medroxyprogesterone technically isn’t. This doesn’t mean medroxyprogesterone isn’t safe, though. From a doctor’s point of view they’re both safe to use for period delay. Period delay is an ‘off-label’ use for medroxyprogesterone (Provera).
All medications we offer are fully licensed within the UK. Some medications, such as this, we prescribe for conditions, or circumstances that are outside of the licence also known as ‘off-label’. Prescribing ‘off-label’ is common practice by healthcare professionals to ensure a medication can safely benefit as many patients as possible. This is always based on updated information and evidence since the product first became available.
Can you get period delay tablets on the NHS?
Yes – if you want to go through your GP to get period delay tablets you can. You’ll need to make a usual appointment and your GP will talk you through your options and prescribe the best treatment for you. Then you can take the prescription to get filled at most pharmacies.
Full price or NHS prescription? – norethisterone or medroxyprogesterone for period delay are not ‘blacklisted medications’ which means a GP can give you an NHS prescription for either. But, not all GPs will definitely do this. If your GP does give you an NHS prescription then you will only have to pay the flat NHS prescription charge. If not, you’ll get a private prescription and you’ll have to pay full price for your tablets.
Can you get period delay tablets over the counter?
No, period delay tablets are prescription-only. There are some serious health risks for certain people if they were going to take progesterone medications like period delay pills. So it’s important that a doctor can check to make sure they’re safe for you to take.
Although you need a doctor to check you for period delay treatment, you don’t have to do it face-to-face. With services like Superdrug Online Doctor, you can get checked online instead using a quick and easy healthcare question that one of our doctors checks for you.
How do period delay tablets work?
Period delay tablets contain an artificial (man made) version of the female hormone progesterone. During your menstrual cycle, your levels of progesterone fall which causes your womb lining to shed and your period to come. Taking period delay tablets stop your progesterone levels from changing, so you do not get your period. This is called delaying your period.
How long do period delay tablets take to work?
You need to take period delay tablets 3 days before your period is due. This is to make sure your levels of progesterone do not fall, giving you the best chance of delaying your period.
How long can you take period tablets for?
We prescribe up to 30 days of period delay tablets at a time. If you need to delay your period for longer than a month, we would suggest asking your doctor about using a combined contraceptive pill instead. This only needs to be taken once a day. The pill may be a better solution if you want to delay your period for longer than a couple of weeks, if you want contraception, or if you want to delay your period more regularly. We recommend discussing the options with your doctor.
Does period delay tablets reset your cycle?
Your period will come 2 to 4 days after you stop taking period delay tablets. Some women report that their cycle changes after taking period delay tablets but this usually settles down. Talk to your doctor if you are concerned about changes to your cycle.
Can you get pregnant while taking period delay?
Yes. This is because period delay tablets do not stop an egg from being fertilised (when sperm reaches the egg) in the way that the contraceptive pill does. If you do not want to get pregnant, you must use contraception while taking period delay tablets.
How to take period delay tablets
Period delay tablets are usually taken 3 times a day.
- Start taking the tablets 3 days before your period is due to start
- Once you stop taking the tablets your period usually starts again within 3 days.
Can I start taking period delay tablets on the first day of my period?
No, you need to start taking period delay tablets 3 days before your period is due. If you take it on the first day of your period, it will not work.
What should I do if my period does not come back?
If your period does not come back within the 3 days, talk to your doctor in case you are pregnant. Remember that period delay tablets do not stop you from getting pregnant, so if you want to delay your period and also have contraception, you should ask your doctor about a suitable contraceptive pill.
What should I do if I take more tablets than I should?
Contact your doctor straight away if you have taken more tablets than you should.
What should I do if I forget to take my tablet?
If you forget to take a dose, take the tablet as soon as you remember and then continue to take your other tablets at the normal time. However, do not take a double dose to make up for a forgotten dose.
Who can take period delay tablets?
You need a prescription to take period delay tablets. This is because period delay tablets may not be safe or suitable for everyone.
For instance, you should not take period delay tablets if you:
- are allergic to any ingredients in the tablets
- are pregnant or think you might be
- have or have had unexplained vaginal bleeding
- have issues with blood clots (or there are issues within your family)
- have or have had a heart attack or angina
- have liver problems
- have had Issues in pregnancy with jaundice or an itchy rash known as pemphigoid gestationis
- have ever had severe generalised itching all over your body known as pruritus
- have a condition called porphyria
You must tell your doctor if you have:
- heart problems
- kidney problems
Some medicines interact with period delay tablets and may make them less effective. Always tell your doctor if you are taking any other medicines, including herbal supplements before taking period delay tablets.
You must tell your doctor if you are taking medication for:
- Pain medication such as NSAIDS
This is because these medications for these conditions may interact with period delay tablets.
Can you take period delay tablets when pregnant?
No, you cannot take period delay tablets if you are pregnant or trying for a baby.
Can you take period delay tablets while breastfeeding?
Talk to your doctor about alternative ways of delaying your period or feeding your baby if you did decide to take period delay tablets.
Can you drink alcohol when taking period delay tablets?
You can drink alcohol when taking period delay tablets. If you drink too much and vomit (be sick) within 2 hours of taking a tablet, it will not have been absorbed into your system. Drinking can also affect your ability to remember to take period delay tablets as prescribed.
Can you take paracetamol with period delay tablets?
Yes, you can take painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen while taking period delay tablets.
Can you take antibiotics with period delay tablets?
You should tell your doctor that you are taking period delay tablets if you are prescribed antibiotics. This is because some antibiotics interact with period delay tablets.
Can I buy period delay tablets online?
You can buy period delay tablets online, but you need a prescription to do so. You should always buy from a registered and reputable online doctor, like Superdrug Online Doctor.
If you are using a website to buy medication, the Government’s online checker can reassure you that the site you are using is operating legally and safely.
You can buy period delay tablets from Superdrug Online Doctor. Simply:
- Fill in the brief medical questionnaire on our site.
- Our doctors will then review your answers and make sure it is safe to prescribe you period delay tablets.
- You then decide how you would like to receive your medication, either as a discreet package through the post or you can ‘Click and Collect’ it from your local Superdrug pharmacy.
- At any point, you can message our doctors for advice through your Patient Account.
What are the side effects of taking period delay tablets?
As with any medication, side effects are possible and they can vary from person to person and in severity.
Seek medical help right away if you have symptoms of:
- an allergic reaction
- a blood clot in the lungs or brain
- deep-vein thrombosis
You can check the patient information leaflet for symptoms of these serious conditions.
You should also seek medical advice if you experience yellowing of your skin or have a migraine for the first time.
All period delay treatments may not be 100% effective. Both norethisterone and medroxyprogesterone can still cause breakthrough bleeding during use. Making sure you take your treatment exactly as prescribed is the best way to get the most out of it.
Less serious side effects that have been reported by women taking period delay tablets include:
- breast tenderness
- changes to your menstrual cycle
- feeling sick
- changes to mood and sex drive
- breakthrough bleeding
Talk to your doctor if the side effects are causing you concern. It is not recommended to take period delay tablets regularly.
There is detailed information on potential side effects and their symptoms in the Patient Information Leaflet.
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