Is it safe to delay your period?
Reviewed by Dr Mitra Dutt
You may want to delay your period because they’re painful, you’re going on holiday or have an important event. There are many ways you can delay, skip or even stop your periods altogether.
If you’d like to delay your period, you might be worried about the possible impact on your natural menstrual cycle. In this article we’ll look at the different ways you can delay your period and their safety.
Dr Mitra Dutt: “If you have a natural monthly period, it’s generally safe to skip one or multiple periods.”
Benefits of delaying your periods
Delaying your periods can be beneficial for different reasons. You may want to delay your period if you:
- Have painful periods or dysmenorrhea
- Have endometriosis
- Have heavy periods
- Have an event or exam coming up
- Are going on holiday
- Have a developmental or physical disability
- Are an athlete
- Are in the military
- Have cancer
- Are transgender or transitioning
- Experience PMDD
What are the risks of delaying your period
Delaying your periods, using Norethisterone, does come with possible side effects. Including:
- High blood pressure
- Breakthrough bleeding or spotting
- Side effects of hormonal contraception such as headaches and nausea
- Hormonal imbalance
- May take a while for your periods to go back to normal
Always read the patient information leaflet or the medication or contraception you’re using to delay your period. If you’re worried about any side effects speak to your GP.
Is it safe to delay my period more than once?
Before you delay your period more than once you should speak to your doctor. Especially if you want to use period delay medication like Norethisterone. This medication is safe to use occasionally. It shouldn’t be used regularly as you can experience side effects.
Dr Mitra Dutt explains that “the downside to skipping a lot of your periods is that you may experience breakthrough bleeding or spotting. This can happen more often if you’re not allowing yourself a break.”
You can use your combined pill, patch or ring to delay your period. You can use these methods as and when you want to. Make sure to read the patient information leaflet and speak to your doctor about safety.
If you want to delay your period for a long time you can use the combined pill. You’ll need to have been taking it for a few weeks before you use it to delay your period.
Norethisterone is a prescription medication we offer which can be used to delay your period by up to 17 days. Start Norethisterone 3 days before your period is due, and then continue to take it for up to 20 days. You will get your period 2-3 days after you stop taking Norethisterone.
Norethisterone is a man-made form of the hormone progestogen. It works by artificially keeping your progestogen levels up. This stops the lining of your womb from shedding and delays your period.
It is available from your GP, or you can request it using our online period delay service.
Is it safe to delay my period using Norethisterone?
Norethisterone is safe for most women to use. You should not take it regularly. Norethisterone is not safe for everyone; it can cause side effects. These include feeling sick, sore breasts, tiredness and headaches.
So, it's important to check with your doctor before you take it. If you request Norethisterone from us, our clinicians will make sure it's safe for you.
Dr Mitra Dutt: “Although Norethisterone is safe for most women. It shouldn’t be used by women who have high blood pressure, have a history of blood clots, or are pregnant.”
Please note - Norethisterone is not a contraceptive. For contraception options, visit our contraception service.
Vaginal rings and birth control patches
You can use a vaginal ring like NuvaRing or birth control patches to delay your period.
If you’re already using a vaginal ring you can use it without a break. When you switch to a new ring you’ll need to put a new ring in within 3 hours. You may have spotting instead of a period. Find out more in our how to use the contraceptive ring guide.
To delay your period with a birth control patch, like the Evra Patch you can apply a new patch once a week without a break. You might still get some bleeding, but it won’t be a withdrawal bleed.
If you’re not already using the ring or patch as contraception, speak to your doctor about period delay medication.
Are birth control patches and vaginal rings safe to delay my period?
If you’re already using these methods of contraception, it’s safe to skip your period. However, you may still experience some spotting or bleeding. It’s always best to speak to a doctor if you’re delaying your period often and for a long time.
With most brands of the combined contraceptive pill, you can take 2 packs back-to-back. By avoiding the 7-day break you should miss the withdrawal bleed in that week. See the contraceptive pill and period delay for more information.
Taking 2 packs of the combined pill back-to-back keeps the levels of oestrogen and progestogen in your body high. This prevents your womb lining from shedding. When you finish the second pack, your hormone levels will fall, and you’ll have your withdrawal bleed.
Is it safe to delay my period using the combined contraceptive pill?
It’s safe to take packs of the combined pill back-to-back. Some women take 3 packets in a row, and then have a 4- or 7-day break. Some women take the combined pill continuously with no break. You might find that you get breakthrough bleeding or spotting if you take the pill constantly.
Most brands of the combined contraceptive pill can be used in this way, including Microgynon, Rigevidon and Yasmin. If you use phasic pills, however, you should consult your doctor before using this method to delay your period.
For more information on the different brands of combined contraceptive pill, see our online service page.
Phasic combined contraceptive pills contain different quantities of hormones in each pill. They have to be taken in the right order. Normally you take one pill for 21 days and then have a 7 day break.
You can delay your period when using this pill, but it’s not as simple as taking 2 packs back-to-back. It’s best to speak to your clinician about the best way to go about this.
Is it safe to delay my period using the phasic pills?
If you have been prescribed a phasic pill, you should talk to your doctor before you try to delay your period.
Progestogen-only pill (mini-pill)
- 2 in 10 women who take the mini pill will have no bleeding
- 4 in 10 will have regular bleeding
- 4 in 10 will have irregular bleeding.
So, if you’re taking the progestogen-only pill, it’s hard to know before you try it, if your period will be delayed at all.
Is it safe to use the mini pill and never have periods?
You might find your periods stop while you’re taking the mini pill. Or they become lighter, and more frequent or you have spotting between periods. There is no need to worry if you have found that your periods have stopped while using the mini pill. But changes to your period make it difficult to predict your periods. You might not know whether they have been delayed.
There are many ways you can delay your period if you need to. Knowing which are safe for you to do will help you plan for the future. Whether you use usual contraception to period delay medication. We can help you find the safest way to delay your period.