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Period delay treatment
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Different types of period delay tablets
This is the branded version of the medicine called norethisterone. It is a man made form of the female hormone, progesterone.
The generic, unbranded norethisterone contains the same active ingredient and works in the same way as Utovlan, but the tablets generally cost less.
This is an ‘off label’ period delay treatment. This means it is approved for use in the UK for treating other conditions, but not licensed as a period delay treatment. Your doctor may prescribe Provera for you when norethisterone is not suitable. Norethisterone may not be suitable if you are over 35 and smoke, or are overweight, as it may increase your risk of getting a blood clot.
If you are taking period delay tablets you should also use other methods of contraception, like condoms, to prevent pregnancy.
If you are taking the combined pill, you can also use it to delay your period by skipping your 7 day ‘pill free’ break. This will mean after you finish your pack of 21 pills, you start the new pack the next day without taking a break.
If you are not using a combined contraceptive, you can take period delay tablets to delay your period instead.
Norethisterone is a man made form of the natural female hormone, progesterone.
Normally, after you release an egg (ovulation) your natural progesterone levels increase, which causes the lining of your womb to become thicker. This prepares the womb for a possible pregnancy. If you do not become pregnant, the progesterone levels drop again and you have a period bleed (menstruation).
Norethisterone works by keeping the levels of progesterone in your body high, which maintains the lining of your womb, so it does not shed as a period bleed. The usual dosage you will be prescribed is 1 tablet (5mg) to be taken 3 times a day.
You should swallow norethisterone tablets whole with water. To delay your period, you will usually be prescribed 1 tablet (5mg) to be taken 3 times a day.
You should take norethisterone tablets about 3 days before your period is due for it to work effectively. Your period should start 3 days after you stop taking norethisterone tablets.
You may get some side effects when using period delay treatments like norethisterone tablets.
Some side effects of taking norethisterone may include:
- mood changes
- nausea (feeling sick)
- irregular monthly periods
- changes in appetite
- high blood pressure
- breast tenderness
- fluid retention
- reduced sex drive
- yellowing of your skin or the white part of your eyes
- blood clots
You should speak to your doctor if you get any of these side effects.
Norethisterone tablets may not be the right period delay treatment for you if you have certain medical conditions.
You should tell your doctor first before taking norethisterone if you:
- are pregnant or may be pregnant
- have ever had a blood clot
- have heart or liver disease
- have ever had migraines or seizures
- are asthmatic
- have a rare condition called porphyria
- have vaginal bleeding between periods
Norethisterone may increase your risk of getting a blood clot if you already have certain risk factors. These include being over 35 years and smoking, being overweight, or having high blood pressure.
You should stop taking norethisterone right away if you have symptoms of a blood clot, and seek urgent medical help.
Symptoms of a blood clot in your lungs include:
- chest pain
- fast heartbeat (palpitations)
- difficulty breathing
Symptoms of a blood clot in your leg include:
- pain, tenderness or swelling in your legs
- redness and warm feeling on your legs
If you are taking any medications, including over the counter or herbal medicines, tell your doctor before getting a prescription for norethisterone tablets. They will check if it is safe for you to take alongside what you are already taking.
Some medicines which may affect how norethisterone works include:
- antibiotics like rifampicin and tetracycline
- medicines used to treat HIV
- epilepsy medicines like phenytoin and carbamazepine
- anticancer medicines
- herbal medicines like St John's wort
- high blood pressure medicines
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: 01 Sep 2021
Last reviewed: 01 Sep 2021
Delaying a period (December 2020) Patient Info (Accessed 12 August 2021)
How can I delay my period? (January 2019) NHS (Accessed 12 August 2021)
Medroxyprogesterone tablets (March 2019) Patient Info (Accessed 12 August 2021)
Norethisterone 5mg Tablets EMC (Accessed 12 August 2021)
NORETHISTERONE NICE (Accessed 12 August 2021)