Ah, Valentine’s Day. For many people out there, the phrase conjures up images of love hearts, roses, candlelit dinners, and the colour red. Why red? Well, it’s the colour of lust and romance, the go-to for every card shop at this time of year, but between all the scarlet-coloured hearts and rose coloured… well, roses, there might be another kind of red that you’re dreading – your period.
Yep, if you’re planning on getting intimate with your partner this Valentine’s Day and you’re also due a visit from Aunt Flo, you might be anxious about the *ahem* logistics of such intercourse. Whilst there’s absolutely no reason to abstain from sex whilst you’re on your period, many couples prefer not to “get jiggy with it” (Will Smith is timeless, ok?!) as some women find sex more painful at this time. Other couples just prefer not to deal with the clean-up operation afterwards (pro tip, use a dark towel and good washing powder, thank us later).
Well, if you’ve been frantically googling “how to delay your period”, we have good news for you – Norethisterone. Yes, it’s actually possible to delay your period before it starts with a type of medication that postpones the shedding of your womb lining. Norethisterone belongs to a family of medicines called progestogens, similar to the female hormone progesterone, and is the most reliable way of temporarily stopping your period.
For norethisterone to work, you need to start taking the pills 3 days before you expect to start your period. Usually, you’ll be advised to take one 5mg pill three times a day, and they shouldn’t be taken for more than 20 days for the purpose of delaying mother nature. You can expect normal business (your period) to resume within 3 days of stopping the medication. However, if you’re using the combined pill, you can just skip the 7-day break (which you can now do all the time according to new guidelines).
This means you won’t have your period for another month, or until you next choose to take a break. If you’re taking the mini-pill (progesterone only, or POP), you should stop taking it whilst you’re using norethisterone, but use another method of contraception such as condoms, as the “period delay tablets” won’t protect you from pregnancy (or STIs for that matter).
Now for the safety bit; there are some people that can’t take norethisterone, so if you fall into any of these categories, we’re afraid you’ll have to grab a dark towel and a box of Persil. You should avoid taking this medication if:
- You’re pregnant or think you might be. You’ll need to request a pregnancy test from your GP before you buy norethisterone.
- You’ve ever had unexplained vaginal bleeding. This is when you may have had irregular bleeding that your doctor couldn’t find a reason for.
- You have a personal or family history of blood clots
- You’ve ever had a heart attack or if you have angina
- You have liver problems
- You have pruritis (severe itchiness all over your body)
- Porphyria (a rare blood disease).
You’ll also need to see your GP for advice on whether you can take norethisterone if you have:
- Heart problems
- Kidney problems
Side effects of the period delay tablets are rarely severe, but the most common ones you might experience are headaches, nausea, spotting and breast tenderness. For more information about possible side effects, please read the patient information leaflet on our website.
Even if Valentine’s Day isn’t your thing, there are so many reasons you might want to delay your period. Whether you’re getting married, going on holiday, or just planning to wear a pale outfit for a night out, delaying your period once in a while isn’t going to have a detrimental effect on your body. Though if you’re planning to have sex whilst taking norethisterone, don’t forget the condoms!