“Is is dangerous to delay your period?”. A question most women will ask when they want to delay their period at some point in their life. There are two different ways in which this can be done safely. The first is by using a tablet called norethisterone. The second way (for those who take the combined pill), is by taking back to back packets of the combined pill, omitting the pill free interval, so that a bleed does not occur.
Is it safe to delay your period using norethisterone?
Progesterone is a hormone that is involved in regulating the female menstrual cycle. Throughout the course of the month, progesterone levels fluctuate, and towards the end of the month, progesterone levels drop. This drop in progesterone causes the lining of the womb to breakdown, which is then expelled from the body in the form of a period. Norethisterone is a synthetic version of progesterone, and by artificially keeping progesterone levels raised using norethisterone, it stops the lining of the womb from breaking down. If the lining of the womb is not broken down, it does not need to be expelled from the body (via a period), and therefore, a period does not occur.
Norethisterone can be used to delay your period for up to 17 days. It should be taken three days before your period is due, for a maximum of 20 days. Your period will start two to three days after stopping norethisterone.
Norethisterone is safe for most women to take on a short-term basis. There are however, some women for whom norethisterone is not suitable for. For example, women who are susceptible to blood clots or some women who have high blood pressure or diabetes. It is important to check with your doctor to see if you are eligible to delay your period using norethisterone. You can visit an online period delay clinic for more information.
Is it safe to delay your period using the combined contraceptive pill?
When taking the combined contraceptive pill, there is a seven day break, known as the “pill free interval”. During these seven days, you will have what is known as a “breakthrough bleed”. It is possible to safely delay having a bleed by taking two packets back to back, in other words, skipping the pill free interval so that you do not experience a breakthrough bleed. This is a common and safe practice that works for 21-day monophasic pills such as Microgynon, Yasmin, Rigevidon and Cilest.
If you are taking ED (Every Day) pills, the same principle applies. The first 21 tablets are active pills which should be taken as usual. The next 7 pills are dummy pills, which you should skip taking and continue to the active pills of the next packet.
It is possible to take up to three packets back to back, but you should speak to your doctor if you wish to take more than two packets consecutively.
If you are using a phasic pill, you should contact your doctor or pharmacist before attempting to delay your period. This is because each pill contains different quantities of hormones, so it may not be appropriate to simply take two packets back to back.
Is it safe to use the mini pill and not have a period?
Most women who take the mini pill will not experience periods. Some women may experience “spotting” or irregular bleeds, however, there is no way to tell if you will experience any spotting or irregular bleeding using the mini pill, as this varies depending on the individual. Not having a period using the mini pill is normal and nothing to worry about. Periods occur when the lining of the womb is shed, but as the pill stops the development of the lining of the womb, so there is nothing to shed.
Is it dangerous to delay your period?
For a majority of women, not having a period is safe. When taking norethisterone temporarily to delay your period, the lining of the womb is broken down and expelled from the body shortly after stopping norethisterone.
Skipping periods using the contraceptive pill is also a safe practice. Periods are only required for those that wish to get pregnant. The lining of the womb thickens in preparation for the fertilised egg. The contraceptive pill stops the thickening of the lining of the womb. This means that it does not need to be expelled from the body in the form of a period. This means that in the case of the mini pill, your period is not “building up inside you”, as the pill stops the lining of the womb from developing.
It is also important to note that the bleed experienced during the seven day pill free interval when using the combined pill is not a natural period. It is the withdrawal of the synthetic hormones in the pill, mimicking a period; so taking two packets back to back temporarily, is safe.