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Delaying a Period

delaying a period

Occasionally women may wish to delay a period. For example, on a special holiday, during an exam, etc. Delaying a period cannot be guaranteed but the following usually works.

If you are taking a fixed-dose combined pill then simply start the next pack without the usual 7-day break. Taking two packs back-to-back in this way is safe if it is done occasionally. You still only need to have a 7-day break at the end of these two packets.

How does this work?

Women taking 'the pill' do not have normal periods. Rather, they are withdrawal bleeds which occur when the oestrogen in the pill is not taken. The hormones in the pill help to sustain the lining of the uterus. The withdrawal bleed will not normally occur until the pill is stopped and the level of hormone in the body falls (usually once a month in the 7-day break between pill packs).

Women not taking 'the pill'

If you are not taking the combined oral contraceptive pill then a hormone tablet called norethisterone can be prescribed. The dose is 5 mg three times a day starting 3-4 days before a period is due. It can be continued for up to two weeks or so until you want to have a period. Your period will then normally begin 2-3 days after stopping it. Norethisterone is normally safe to take.

How does this work?

Norethisterone is a progestogen hormone. Progestogens are hormones that sustain the lining of the uterus. Normally at the time before a period there is a fall in the level of progestogen hormone in the body. By taking norethisterone tablets (progestogen) the lining of the uterus is sustained until the tablet is stopped.

Note: norethisterone taken in this way is not a contraceptive


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