Period delay tablets are a treatment you can use to delay your period if you want to make sure you don’t have it at a certain time. This can be because of an event, travel or any other reason. Period delay tablets are not intended for long term use.
- Fill out a quick and simple medical questionnaire
- Highlight your preferred treatment
- A doctor checks if this is suitable based on what you’ve told us
Important: If your preferred treatment is not right for you, your doctor may suggest an alternative or give you further advice about your options.
Period delay treatments available
About period delay tablets
Period delay tablets
You can delay your period with a period delay tablet, such as norethisterone, Utovlan, or Provera. You can also use the combined contraceptive pill if you already take it. Delaying your period is safe but should only be done if you have spoken to your doctor.
Period delay tablets are taken 3 times a day and should be started 2 to 3 days before your period is due. Norethisterone, Utovlan, and Provera contain a progestogen, which is a type of man-made progesterone. This is what delays your period.
Combined contraceptive pill
If you already take the combined contraceptive pill, you can also use this to delay your period. Instead of taking a break between packs, you can keep taking your tablets for another month, which can delay your period until your next tablet break. This means you will take 2 tablet packets, back to back. You cannot use the mini-pill to delay your period.
You can use either period delay treatment or the combined pill but not both together.
Norethisterone is an unbranded medication and contains the active ingredient norethisterone. This can also be found under the branded name Utovlan. Provera is a branded medication and contains the active ingredient medroxyprogesterone acetate. Both of these active ingredients are called progestogens. This is a man-made version of the natural female hormone progesterone.
Progesterone is produced by the body during your menstrual cycle and levels begin to fall when you are due on your period. This causes the lining of your womb to shed, causing a period. When you take period delay tablets, progestogen replaces your declining progesterone levels, stopping the lining of your womb from shedding. This can delay your period until you stop taking it.
Period delay tablets do not act as contraception and you should continue to use contraception during this time, such as a condom. If you use a mini pill you can use this alongside period delay treatment. If you do not start your period after you have finished your period delay tablets, speak to your doctor to check you are not pregnant.
Yes, delaying your period is safe with period delay tablets. Our online service allows you to complete a short, medical questionnaire. Our doctors can review this and make sure period delay tablets are suitable and safe for you. Only delay your period for as long as your doctor has told you to.
Period delay tablets are usually taken 3 times a day and should be started 2 to 3 days before your period is due to start. Your tablet pack will tell you how you need to take them.
Norethisterone is prescribed in 5mg tablets and should be taken 3 times a day. You must start your treatment 3 days before your period is due. Try to space the doses evenly throughout the day. You can take norethisterone with a glass of water, with or without food. Your period should start about 2 to 3 days after finishing your treatment.
If you take more norethisterone than you should, speak to your doctor. If you forget a dose, take it as soon as you remember and then continue treatment as normal. If your next tablet is due, do not take a double dose. Missed doses can increase the risk of breakthrough bleeding. Norethisterone is usually prescribed for a maximum of 20 days.
Provera should be started 2 to 3 days before your period is due. You should take 1 tablet, 3 times a day. Swallow the tablet whole, with a glass of water. You can take the tablets with or without food. Try to space your doses evenly and leave 6 to 8 hours between each tablet. Your period should start 2 to 3 days after finishing your last dose.
If you forget a dose, take it when you remember. If your next dose is due, do not take a double dose and continue taking the tablets as prescribed. Missed doses can increase the risk of breakthrough bleeding. Do not take more than 3 Provera tablets in a day. If you take too much, speak to your doctor straight away.
Provera is usually used to treat or manage heavy periods and other problems relating to periods in women. It can be used to delay periods but this is known as ‘off-label’ use. This means your doctor can still prescribe it to delay your period, as long as it is suitable for you.
Utovlan contains norethisterone and is the branded version of the generic period delay tablet. Each tablet contains 5mg of norethisterone and should be taken 3 times a day. You should start taking Utovlan 3 days before your period is due. You should take Utovlan with a glass of water, with or without food. Space each dose evenly throughout the day. Your period should start 2 to 3 days after finishing your tablets.
If you take more Utovlan than you are prescribed, speak to your doctor. If you forget a tablet, take it as soon as you remember and then continue treatment as normal. If your next tablet is due, leave the missed dose and never take a double dose. A missed dose can increase your risk of breakthrough bleeding. Utovlan is usually prescribed for a maximum of 20 days.
Period delay tablets are suitable for women who are not taking the combined contraceptive pill and are not pregnant or breastfeeding.
You should not take Provera if you have:
- an allergy to medroxyprogesterone acetate, or any other ingredients in the tablets
- ever had breast cancer or blood clots
- liver problems
- porphyria, which is a rare blood disorder
You should not take norethisterone or Utovlan if you have:
- an allergy to norethisterone, or other ingredients in the tablets
- ever had blood clots or unexplained vaginal bleeding
- angina, or have ever had a heart attack
- liver problems
- had a pregnancy where you had jaundice or pemphigoid gestationis (an itchy rash)
- pruritus, which is a severe itching all over your body
- porphyria, a rare blood disorder
- migraines with aura
- high blood pressure
If you have any other health conditions, speak to your doctor before taking period delay tablets, to make sure the treatment is suitable for you.
There are certain medications that may stop period delay tablets working effectively, so speak to your doctor if you take any other medications, especially:
- medication for epilepsy, such as phenobarbital
- aminoglutethimide, for Cushing’s syndrome
- medication for thinning blood, such as warfarin
- HIV and AIDS treatment
- any medication to treat infections
- a herbal treatment called St John’s wort
- anticancer medication
- ciclosporin, a medication used to suppress the immune system
- medication for high blood pressure
- anti-inflammatory medication, such as ibuprofen
Like all medications, period delay tablets can have some side effects. If you do get them, they usually go away once your body gets used to the treatment, or when you stop taking them. If the side effects bother you too much, speak to your doctor.
You should stop taking period delay tablets straight away and go to A&E if you get:
- signs of an allergic reaction, such as wheezing, swelling of the face, or breathlessness
- symptoms of a blood clot, such as severe pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, or fainting
- symptoms of deep-vein thrombosis (DVT), such as pain or swelling in the legs or feet and discolouration of the legs
Period delay tablets can cause other side effects, including:
- nausea (feeling sick)
- unexpected vaginal bleeding
- trouble sleeping
- hair loss
- rash or itchy skin
- vaginal discharge
- breast tenderness or pain
- weight increase
For a full list of side effects, check the patient information leaflet which is included inside your tablet pack.
How can I delay my period?, National Health Service [accessed December 2021]
Norethisterone 5mg Tablets (2017) EMC (accessed 09 December 2021)
Provera 10mg Tablets (2019) EMC (accessed 09 December 2021)
Utovlan Tablets (2018) EMC (accessed 22 December 2021)
Delaying a period, Patient.info [accessed December 2021]
Medically reviewed byDr Babak Ashrafi
Last reviewed: 11 Mar 2022