Period delay tablets are a safe way to delay your period. This can be beneficial if your period is set to clash with a special event or occasion when being on your period might not be ideal. For example, a big celebration or a long trip.
We currently offer 2 types of period delay tablets, both of which are fully licenced in Ireland:
- Primolut N, the only type of medication licensed for period delay in Ireland and typically suitable for women with a low risk of blood clots
- Provera, a licensed medication prescribed 'off label'* and typically suitable for women with a higher risk of blood clots
Once you request period delay medication through us, a qualified doctor will check that this is suitable for you and prescribe treatment. You can then collect your medication from your preferred pharmacy.
If you have any questions or need advice about period delay medication, you can message our doctors through your secure account.
* Learn more about 'off label' medications in our FAQ below (‘How do period delay tablets work?’).
About period delay tablets
You may want to delay your period so you’re ‘period free’ for a special occasion or to avoid this clashing with a stressful time. For example:
- a wedding, anniversary, or similar large celebration
- a holiday or trip
- a job interview
- an exam
- if you’re moving home
If you already take a combined contraceptive pill, you can delay your period with this instead. This can be a good option if you need to delay your period for longer than a month or more regularly than once in a month.
Delaying your period with the contraceptive pill
You can take the combined contraceptive pill ‘back to back’ to delay your period until your next tablet break. This means you begin your next pack straight after finishing a pack. Taking the combined pill like this does not affect how it works as a form of contraception.
- period delay medications like Primolut N and Provera do not work as a form of contraception
- you should not take the combined pill back to back and period delay medication at the same time
- if you take the mini pill, you cannot take this back to back to delay your period, although you can take period delay medication alongside this
Your body normally produces the hormone progesterone during your menstrual cycle. When your progesterone levels fall, the lining of your womb begins to shed. This causes your period.
Period delay tablets prevent your period by keeping your progesterone levels high. They do this by mimicking the progesterone hormone with an artificial version (a progestogen). Both of the active ingredients in Primolut N and Provera are progestogens (medroxyprogesterone acetate and norethisterone, respectively).
Off label medications
Both Primolut N and Provera are considered safe period delay medications and are fully licensed in Ireland. However, while Primolut N is licensed specifically for this purpose, period delay is an ‘off label’ use for Provera. This is common in healthcare where a medication is effective in a way not specified in its licence. For example, if a particular medication works for a different condition or among a different group of patients.
If you request either Primolut N or Provera through ZAVA, our doctors will check that it’s suitable before prescribing it to you. If you have any further questions, you can send them a private message through your account.
You should begin taking your period delay tablets 2 to 3 days before your period as they take time to work. Therefore it’s important that you can accurately predict when your period is due.
We will ask you about this when you request period delay treatment through us.
Period delay tablets must be taken 3 times per day. You should begin taking your tablets 2 to 3 days before your period is due, and then continue taking these for as long as you want to delay your period. You can take period delay medication for up to 20 days at a time.
Period delay tablets are usually effective for 2 to 3 days after you take your last tablet, at which point you should get your period.
Always read the patient information leaflet that comes with your medication before beginning treatment. If you have any questions about taking period delay tablets, you can message our doctors for free advice through your account. You can do this before or after requesting your medication.
If you forget to take a period delay tablet when you were meant to, you should take that missed pill as soon as possible. You can then continue with the rest of your tablets as normal. You may start to have some bleeding or spotting if you miss a tablet.
You should never take more than one period delay tablet at a time to make up for a forgotten pill.
Most women can take period delay medication.
However, you should not use period delay medication if you are:
- taking the combined contraceptive pill
Additionally, you should not take Primolut N if you have:
- an allergy to norethisterone or any other ingredients in Primolut N
- migraines with aura
- high blood pressure
- a history of either blood clots or unexplained vaginal bleeding
- angina or if you have ever had a heart attack
- liver problems
- had either jaundice or pemphigoid gestationis (an itchy rash) during pregnancy
- pruritus, a condition where you have severe itching all over your body
- porphyria, a rare blood disorder
Meanwhile, you should not take Provera if you have:
- an allergy to medroxyprogesterone acetate or any other ingredients in Provera
- a history of either breast cancer or blood clots
- liver problems
- porphyria, which is a rare blood disorder
Period delay tablets may not work as effectively if you take certain medications, such as:
- blood pressure medication
- medication for epilepsy
- blood thinning medication, including warfarin
- medication for HIV and AIDS treatment
- enzyme inducing antibiotics to treat infections, such as rifampicin
- St John’s wort, a herbal treatment
- cancer treatment medication
- ciclosporin, a medication used to suppress the immune system
- aminoglutethimide, a medication for Cushing’s syndrome
When you request period delay medication through us, our doctors will ask about your medical history and any current medications you’re taking. If your chosen medication isn’t suitable based on this, they may suggest an alternative or give you further advice about delaying your period.
Period delay tablets can have some side effects, but these should go away as your body adjusts to treatment and once you stop taking them.
These side effects include:
- unexpected vaginal bleeding
- trouble sleeping
- hair loss
- a rash or itchy skin
- vaginal discharge
- breast tenderness or pain
- weight gain
You should stop taking period delay tablets straight away and go to A&E if you have signs or symptoms of:
- an allergic reaction, such as wheezing, face swelling, or breathlessness
- a blood clot, such as severe pain in your chest, shortness of breath, dizziness, or fainting
- deep vein thrombosis (DVT), such as pain, swelling, or discolouration (like bruising) in your legs or feet
You can get (non urgent) medical advice from our doctors while taking period delay medication by sending them a message through your account. This is 100% confidential and free of charge.
Can you get period delay tablets over the counter?
No, you need a prescription from a doctor to get any period delay medication. This way they can check that your preferred medication is right for you. For more information, read our advice above (‘Who can take period delay pills?’).
You don’t need to see a doctor in person or make an appointment to get a prescription for period delay medication though. Instead you can request your prescription online through our period delay service. All you need to do is complete a short medical questionnaire in your own time. One of our fully qualified doctors will review your answers within 24 hours and prescribe treatment, if suitable.
Is it safe to delay your period?
Yes, it’s safe to delay your period, either with period delay medication or by taking the combined contraceptive pill back to back (see ‘Delaying your period with the contraceptive pill’, above).
When you request period delay medication through us, our doctors will check the information you share with us regarding your medical history and current medications. This way they can verify that your chosen period delay medication is safe for you before prescribing this. If they need more information from you, they’ll get in touch via your account.
Alternatively, our doctors may suggest a different medication to you or offer advice if your chosen medication isn’t suitable.
Can you buy period delay treatment online?
You can get a prescription for period delay treatment from online doctor services, like ZAVA.
With ZAVA, you can complete an online consultation for period delay treatment. If our doctors are happy to prescribe treatment, a digital prescription will be sent to your chosen pharmacy (usually within 2 hours of a doctor approving treatment). You can then collect your medication from here.