We’ve all been there. The holiday’s been booked for months and you’ve been looking forward to two weeks of sunshine, fun and laughter- not to mention lazy days by the pool, lively days at the beach and more in-between. Then what happens? You realise your period is due right in the middle of all of this scheduled fun. What a way to put a damper on things… or is it?
These days, more people are opting to delay their period to go on holiday- so in this post we’re looking into how this can be done, and whether or not it’s safe to do.
How do you delay your period?
According to the NHS, there’s more than one way to delay your period, but keep in mind that it’s not always guaranteed to work.
Combined contraceptive pills can be taken ‘back to back’ to delay your period. You can do this by continuing to take the pill throughout your entire cycle- but different pill types will require a different approach, so speak to your doctor for advice if you’re not sure.
The NHS advises:
- Monphasic pills consist of 21 tablets, which you take consecutively for three weeks, followed by a one week break, during which you get your period. If you take monophasic pills such as Microgynon or Cilest, you can just start on a new packet when you finish your 21 days, rather than taking a break.
- Every day pills (ED) come in a pack of 28, with 21 active pills and seven inactive ‘dummy’ pills. You will get a period during the 7 days that you take the dummy pills. If you take everyday pills such as Microgynon ED or Lorynon ED, you will need to get rid of the dummy pills and start a new pack, taking the active pills in their place.
- Phasic 21 day pills consist of tablets which each contain a different mix of hormones, depending on where you are in your cycle. If you take phasic 21 days pills such as Binovium or Logynon you will need to take the pills in the correct order for them to be effective in preventing pregnancy- so if you’re intending to take them back to back to delay your period, make an appointment to discuss the best approach with your GP.
While taking the pills back to back won’t affect how they work as contraceptives, it’s important to take them correctly, so always read your patient leaflet carefully and speak to a medical professional if you’re not sure.
Progesterone only pill
Progesterone only pills are different in that you can’t take them back to back to delay your period. But you can switch to a different type of pill if you want to- speak to your GP for advice.
If you don’t take a contraceptive pill and you don’t want to take one, there is another medication you can take, called Northisterone. This medicine contains synthetic progesterone, and it works by keeping levels of that hormone high so that your period is delayed. You will need to take one tablet per day three days before your period is due, and continue taking one a day for a further 14 days. As soon as you stop taking Norethisterone your period will return as normal.
This medicine isn’t suitable for everyone, but it is easily available- you can get a prescription online once you’ve answered a medical questionnaire. Be sure to list all current medications that you’re taking, and provide accurate medical information to ensure that Norethisterone is safe for you to use. If you’re not sure, make an appointment with your GP to discuss.
Norethisterone shouldn’t be used more than once every six months, and keep in mind that it’s not a contraceptive- but you cannot take it at the same time as hormonal birth control tablets. To prevent pregnancy, you need alternative contraception.
How long can you delay your period?
If you take a contraceptive pill back to back, your period will be delayed for as long as you continue taking them back to back. Norethisterone can delay your period for up to 17 days, and your cycle will return to normal once you stop taking them.
It’s not advised to take Norethisterone if you already take a hormonal contraceptive pill, and if you decide to go on the pill instead, it’s worth knowing that it can take a few weeks for your body to adapt. This means that you’d need to plan ahead and take the pill for a couple of cycles at least before you can delay your period.
When will my period return after delaying?
If you’re taking the combined pill, your period will return as normal during the next break in your pills. If you miss a couple of pills, your period may return- and be aware that you’re not protected against pregnancy in this case either.
When you top taking Noerthisterone, your period should return within 3-4 days.
Is it safe to delay your period?
At the end of the day, periods are a natural physiological event, so taking medication to manipulate your cycle and delay your period will always come with a few risks and side effects.
For most people, it’s safe to take medication to delay your period, but you should always read the patient information fully, and let your doctor know about any other medications you’re taking.
You should also keep in mind that taking medication to delay your period could affect your menstrual cycle in the future, so only do this under medical supervision. Repeatedly delaying your period could disrupt your cycle too.
Your doctor should tell you about the side effects you might experience when taking medication to delay your period.
Side effects from Norethisterone include:
Side effects from the combined pill include:
- Erratic mood
- Sore breasts
Managing your period on holiday
Having your period on holiday isn’t the end of the world! Your period should never hold you back from having fun, so if you don’t want to take medication to delay it, you don’t have to. Being prepared can be aa huge help when it comes to managing your period on holiday.
Our top tips:
- Take plenty of period pants with you so that you can be comfortable and leak free, and still travel sustainably.
- Pack period proof swimwear so you don’t need to miss out of water fun while you’re away.
- Take pain relief with you. Keep cramps at bay, and make the most of the soothing effects of the sun and the sea!
- Pack loose clothes that you know won't make you feel uncomfortable if you get bloated during your period.
- stay hydrated! Take a reusable water bottle and fill it regularly- especially if you intend to sample the local drinks!
Can delaying periods be harmful?
Delaying your period can be a perfectly safe option for many, providing you aren’t taking medications that could cause an issue, and as long as your doctor is happy with your health history.
Always seek advice from your doctor and follow patient advice to ensure you’re taking the medication safely. If you’re concerned about side effects, speak to your doctor for advice.
How can I delay my period safely?
There are a couple of options if you want to delay your period. If you’re already on the combined pill, you may be able to take the tablets back to back to delay your period. If not, speak to your doctor to see whether Norethisterone is suitable for you.
Is it ok to delay my period for 10 days?
It’s safe to delay your period for 10 days. You can take Norethisterone to delay your period for up to 17 days, or you can take the combined pill back to back for one cycle, delaying your period until the next month.