Is it safe to delay your period?
If you’re considering delaying your period, you may wonder if it’s safe to do that. After all, having a period is natural, right?
There are plenty of reasons why you might want to delay your period. You might dislike the hassle of bleeding or having mood swings every month, or you could just need a one off break to enjoy your holiday.
Whatever the reason is, most people can safely use medication to delay their period.
Is it safe to delay your period?
It is generally safe to delay your period. There is no evidence to show that skipping a period has any long term effects.
If you’d like to delay your period, there are 2 safe methods to do this. You can either take tablets that contain progesterone or use your current birth control pills.
Period delay tablets that contain progesterone include norethisterone (Utovlan) and Provera (medroxyprogesterone).
You can take the combined contraceptive pill continuously to delay your period. Taking a pill continuously means you skip the 7 day pill free break at the end of your strip of pills, and move on to your next strip straight away. This way, you do not have a withdrawal bleed and delay your period.
The 7 day break was introduced in the 1950s for contraception to be more appealing to traditional audiences. This break might have given the impression that you need to bleed monthly, but this is not true.
Current guidelines show that there is no health benefit to this 7 day break. However, if you choose to have this break, that’s completely fine.
Delaying your period with norethisterone
You can delay your period with norethisterone 5mg tablets.
Norethisterone is a man made hormone that mimics your body’s natural progesterone. When you take a constant dose of norethisterone, you slow the natural change in hormones your body goes through during your menstrual cycle. This steady dose prevents you from getting a period.
To delay your period with norethisterone, you should take 1 tablet 3 times a day around 3 days before your period is due. You can take norethisterone for as long as you need to delay your period.
Once you stop taking norethisterone, your period will normally start after 3 days.
Norethisterone 5mg tablets are not a form of contraception, so taking them will not stop you from getting pregnant.
You can still get pregnant even if you delay your period unless you are using birth control.
How long is it safe to take norethisterone for?
It is safe to take norethisterone for up to a month. As norethisterone 5mg tablets have a high hormone strength, it’s only safe to take them for a short period of time.
If you want to delay your period for longer than a month or continuously, you may want to consider taking birth control pills.
Delaying your period with birth control
You can delay your period on a long term basis if you are taking birth control pills.
If you're taking the combined contraceptive pill, you can take 2 blister strips back to back. This means you skip the 7 day break. You can do this if you prefer to have fewer periods throughout the year. The only drawback is that you may have some breakthrough bleeding as your body adjusts.
You will still be protected from getting pregnant if you take the combined pill continuously.
You cannot use the mini pill (progesterone only pill) to delay your period as it is already taken every day. If you’re on the mini pill and would like to use your birth control to delay your period, you can consider switching to a combined pill.
How long is it safe to delay your period?
You can delay your period safely on a long term basis when you use birth control pills.
If you do not have any health conditions, such as heart disease or breast cancer, you can use the combined pill back to back to stop your periods. Normally, you can use 3 strips back to back and then have a 7 day break. This delays your period for 2 months or 63 days.
Speak to a doctor if you’re unsure which type of medication is safe for you to delay your period.
Dr Kathryn Basford
Dr Kathryn Basford is a qualified GP who works as a GP in London, as well as with ZAVA. She graduated from the University of Manchester and completed her GP training through Whipps Cross Hospital in London.Meet our doctors
Article created: 15 Nov 2021
Last reviewed: 15 Nov 2021
How can I delay my period? (NHS) [Jan 2019] [accessed October 2021]
Menstrual manipulation: Options for suppressing the cycle [July 2010] [accessed October 2021]
Updated FSRH guidance on combined hormonal contraception (Faculty of Sexual & Reproductive Healthcare) [Jan 2019] [accessed October 2021]
(Reviews are for ZAVA UK)