You’ve planned your wedding meticulously right down to the very last detail – from the positioning of the table plan to which nail art would look prettiest with your white dress. The last thing you want to ruin your perfect planning is your period falling on the date of your wedding, right?
If your ‘time of the month’ is scheduled to make the most inconvenient appearance ever, the time and hassle of booking an appointment with your GP to find out your options is the last stress you need.
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Luckily, the period delay pill is now readily available on the High Street with no GP prescription required, meaning you can have a care-free wedding day or honeymoon.
What exactly is in the period delay pill? How do you get it? What does it do? And what side effects might it have? Here’s everything you need to know.
Where Can I Get the Period Delay Pill?
Chemist Boots have offered a period delay service for several years and Superdrug have now launched their own which cuts out the need to go to the GP.
The service is available at Boots for women aged 16-54 who are not using any other kind of contraceptive pill or hormonal contraceptive, but you must be over the age of 18 to use Superdrug’s service.
The process of getting the pill is slightly different between the two:
- Boots require you to fill in a simple, 5 minute online clinic form to assess suitability. Once your application has been approved by the clinicians in their pharmacies (which can take up to 24 hours), you can then collect the medication for free from one of their 2,300 stores, or pay for delivery, including next day. Boots offer a 20-day delay service.
- Superdrug offers the pills through their Online Doctor service, on a walk-in basis or by making an appointment with its health clinic. If you go in person, you’ll have a consultation with one of their pharmacy team, fill in a questionnaire about your suitability and can then buy the pill on the spot. Superdrug offer 10, 20, and 30-day length packets of medication.
If you take the combined contraceptive pill, then you don’t need to worry about delaying your period with a new pill. Take two packets back-to-back and skip the one-week break in between and you’re period will be delayed until you next take your pill break.
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What is the ‘Period Delay Pill’?
The medical name for the period delay pill is Norethisterone, often sold under the brand name Utovlan. The active ingredient Norethisterone is a synthetic form of the naturally-occurring hormone progesterone. In your normal cycle, a drop in the level of oestrogen and progesterone causes your period. On Norethisterone, your cycle is extended, delaying your period.
Norethisterone is a type of progestogen-only pill (POP), but you’ll also find progesterone in the combined pill and mini-pill. If you’ve had difficulties taking the POP in the past, it is not recommended you take Norethisterone.
How Do You Take Norethisterone?
You’ll be supplied with a prescription-only medicine which will delay your period from starting. There’s the option of a 10, 20 or 30-day course of progesterone tablets which can be taken to coincide with the date of your wedding day. However, it’s not recommended you delay your period by more than 20 days maximum (and Boots say 17).
You start the course three days before your period is due and take one tablet three times a day as directed. This stops the shedding of the womb lining, which will prevent your period from starting. When you stop taking the medication, your period should start within three days.
How Much Does the Period Delay Pill Cost?
If you want to delay your period for 10 days, for example, you’ll need to buy a pack of 30 tablets which costs £29 plus the £9 NHS prescription charge at Superdrug. A 20-day pack (60 tablets) costs £45 and a 30-day packet (90 tablets) costs £59.
At Boots, 10 day’s supply costs £18 and 20 day’s supply costs £27, plus the NHS prescription charge and any extra for delivery.
Is Norethisterone Safe?
As with all medications, there are some people who should not take it. This is all assessed by Boots’ and Superdrugs’ clinics. It’s recommended you read the patient information leaflet before taking them.
Not everyone will experience side effects, but they do include nausea and skin problems. If you have epilepsy, asthma, migraines or heart and kidney problems, it can make your symptoms worse – this is why it’s so important to fill in the medical questionnaire honestly and correctly.
Suffering from these doesn’t automatically mean you can’t take Norethisterone, it just means there may be a better alternative available to you from your GP.
There’s anecdotal evidence that the pill – the combined and progestogen-only pill – can affect mental health, and contribute towards depression and anxiety. Speak to your GP first if you’re worried.
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Can I Fly While Taking Norethisterone?
The medication can increase the risk of developing blood clots. You are more than able to fly but you need to take extra care while in the plane or travelling on a long journey. Take regular breaks to move around and drink lots of water to help prevent blood clots.
Will I Need to Consult My Doctor First?
While Norethisterone is a prescription-only medication, the beauty of the delay services is that you do not need a consultation with a GP. Boots and Superdrug have their own team of clinicians and are able supply prescription-only medication without the need to see your GP, as long as it is suitable for you, of course.
Will I Have Any Symptoms of a Period While Taking the Medication?
You may feel that you have some mild period pains and some breast tenderness but that’s normal. It’s possible that you may experience some spotting too.
Are There Any Health Factors I Need to Consider Before Taking the Medication?
There are a range of medical conditions that could exclude you from taking this medication, for example, Porphyria, Angina, or a hormone-dependent cancer. It’s not recommended to take while pregnant or breastfeeding, nor if you have a history of blood clots or have experienced certain conditions like Jaundice during pregnancy. The online forms and assessment will assess you for any risk factors.
There are also some drug interactions. As part of the period delay service, you’ll be asked which medications you are taking, if any. If the medication could interact then they’ll let you know that the service is not suitable for you.
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Can I Still Get Pregnant While on the Period Delay Pill?
This pill is not a contraceptive so yes, you could still get pregnant.
When Will My Periods Return to Normal?
Normally, you should have a period three days after stopping the medication.
How Often Can I Delay My Period?
You can delay your period for a number of menstrual cycles, but this can mess up your usual cycle and it may take some time before they return back to normal. Talk to your GP for advice about your periods and the options available. Taking Norethisterone for more than 17 days is really not advised.
What Other Safe Methods Are There to Delay My Period?
As we mentioned before, if you are currently taking the combined contraceptive pill, you can run the packs together without a seven-day break to delay your period.
Other options are available from your GP, so speak to them if neither of these seem suitable.
To see if a prescription medicine for delaying your period is suitable for you, simply fill in an online consultation on the Boots website or Superdrug website.
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To help you feel even more prepared for your wedding day, we’ve rounded up a guide to some of the essentials (and non-essentials) you may want to include in a bridal emergency kit for the day.