How to delay your period for your wedding

Getting married and worried that you might be on your period? Find out how you can delay menstruation for your big day.

There are times when it can be inconvenient to have your period, for example if you have a big work project, or during a special occasion such as a wedding. But is it possible to do so?

A study of 500 British women conducted by LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor found that:

  • 27% were not aware you could get period delay medication.
  • 59% have had to cancel plans because of their period. 
  • 76% would take period delay medication for their wedding. 
  • 78% would take period delay medication for their honeymoon.

The good news is that there are, in fact, two main ways to delay your period, depending on whether or not you are already taking the contraceptive pill:

  1. You can take the period delay pill, Norethisterone, if you’re not already on the pill.
  2. If you are currently on the pill, you can consider taking back to back packets. 

In this article, GP for LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor, Dr Gigi Taguri, talks us through both options.

How to delay your period if you’re not on the pill

To delay your period, you can use a pill called Norethisterone. This can delay your period by up to 17 days. Norethisterone comes in the form of tablets which you should start taking three days before your period is due. You must then take three tablets a day for the time you wish to delay your period. 

You can take the tablets for a maximum of 20 days, which will delay your period by a maximum of 17 days. You should get your period two or three days after you stop taking Norethisterone.

Norethisterone is a prescription-only medicine. Your GP can prescribe it for you, or you can order it through an online service. It is not a contraceptive, and cannot be used to prevent pregnancy.

How Norethisterone works

Norethisterone contains the hormone progesterone. By artificially keeping your natural progesterone levels up, it stops the lining of your womb from shedding and delays your period.

Most women find that Norethisterone prevents their period from starting until they choose to stop taking the tablets. However, some women find that they have spotting or breakthrough bleeding while they are taking Norethisterone. 

Starting to take Norethisterone less than three days before your period is due to start greatly increases the chance of spotting.

Who is Norethisterone suitable for?

Most women are able to take Norethisterone. However, Norethisterone is not suitable for everyone and your doctor will advise whether or not you can take it. 

As a general rule, you should probably not take Norethisterone if you have a liver problem, have or have had angina or a heart attack, or have a personal or a significant family history of blood clots. 

How to delay your period if you’re on the pill 

If you’re taking the combined contraceptive pill, you should be able to take 2 packets back-to-back to delay your period (skipping the seven-day break during which you normally get your period). This is a common practice. 

You can delay your period in this way if you take most brands of the combined contraceptive pill, including Microgynon, Rigevidon, Cilest and Yasmin. 

However, some types of combined contraceptive pill contain a different mix of hormones in each pill, these are known as phasic pills. If you are taking a phasic pill brand you should consult with your doctor before attempting to delay your period.

If you take the mini pill, otherwise known as the progestogen-only pill, you will be taking a pill every day anyway, so there is no way to delay your period by skipping the 7-day break.

Long-term period delay solutions

For a one-off occasion like a wedding, it’s fine but it is not recommended to take Norethisterone regularly. If you often want to delay your period, your options include taking the combined contraceptive pill back to back or considering a Mirena coil or intrauterine system (IUS). 

An IUS can work for up to five years and most women get lighter, less painful and often stop. After 12 months most users only have a light bleed for one day per month and about one in five users have no bleeding at all.