Are Period Delay Pills Dangerous To Take? An Expert Weighs In

Close-up image of a woman's hands taking pills to cure herself of a virus.
Close-up image of a woman's hands taking pills to cure herself of a virus. milorad kravic via Getty Images

Summer is finally here!

Well, the weather doesn’t always suggest that but our calendars being filled with holidays, weddings and trips to the beach definitely can only mean summer. It’s the busiest time of the year for most of us and having a period isn’t always... ideal.

Spending five days of a seven day holiday bleeding and uncomfortable? No thank you.

This is where period delay tablets come in. They can postpone the onset of your menstrual cycle, which can be for as little as seven days or as long as up to 27 days.

However, they sound a little too good to be true. Take a tablet and that’s it, no bleeding, no bloating, no period?

HuffPost UK spoke with Jaanki Kotecha, Pharmacist Independent Prescriber at Hello Eve to learn more about these pills and if they’re as convenient as they seem.

Everything you need to know about period delay pills

So, how can we safely delay periods?

Kotecha said: “Whilst the idea of delaying your period might sound strange at first, you’ll be relieved to know that - when practised correctly under the supervision of a clinician - it is a safe process.”

She went on to explain that Norethisterone, which is a synthetic form of the hormone progesterone, lets you delay your period for up to seven, 17 or 27 days. It is commonly prescribed specifically for period delay and works by keeping your progesterone levels high, delaying the usual monthly drop which triggers your period.

How often can period delay pills be used safely?

Could we simply... delay our periods forever, then?

Unfortunately not. Kotecha urged that Norethisterone is suitable only for occasional and short-term use.

She said: “Norethisterone shouldn’t be taken regularly and is not intended for period suppression (stopping your period altogether). When taken correctly, they are completely safe and don’t have any impact on fertility or sexual reproductive health.”

She also warned that these tablets, like many medications, can come with side effects including breast tenderness, loss of libido, nausea, headaches and changes in mood.

If you are concerned about any symptoms, speak to your GP.

How do I get hold of period delay pills?

Period delay pills can be obtained with a prescription from a high street pharmacy, an online pharmacy, or a specialist provider such as Hello Eve.

Kotecha said: “However, before deciding to delay your period, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional. This can be a face-to-face appointment with your GP or pharmacist, or via an online appointment with a healthcare provider.

“In the appointment your provider can view your full medical history and conduct a health check to ensure delaying your period is a safe option for you.“

This consultation can also help you choose the best method of period delay based on your health history and individual needs. It will also include a discussion of potential side effects and how to manage them. For example, if you have a certain condition like a blood clotting disorder, migraines with aura, or a history of breast cancer, this can influence the choice of method for period delay available to you. 

In addition, if you’re trying to get pregnant, think you might be pregnant, are pregnant or have given birth in the last six weeks, Norethisterone is not a suitable medication for you. If you’re breastfeeding, taking Norethisterone may cause a temporary reduction in your milk production.

Period delay pills are not contraception

Remember –  Norethisterone taken for period delay doesn’t act as contraception or alternative to oral contraceptives.

To protect against pregnancy, you’ll need to take specific contraceptive measures, such as the daily pill or other methods. If you’re already taking the combined pill you shouldn’t take Norethisterone.

Instead, discuss your period delay options with the healthcare professional who prescribed your combined pill.