You can now buy a pill over the counter to delay your period - but is it safe?

By Claire Schofield
Thursday, 8th August 2019, 12:15 pm
Updated Thursday, 8th August 2019, 1:25 pm
Superdrug it is the first retailer to offer the period delay pill to customers as a walk-in service at its pharmacies (Photo: Shutterstock)
Superdrug it is the first retailer to offer the period delay pill to customers as a walk-in service at its pharmacies (Photo: Shutterstock)

Periods can often be something of an inconvenience, particularly if it arrives when you are heading off on holiday or on a special occasion.

But there is a pill that can delay menstruation for up to 30 days - and it is now available to buy in Superdrug stores over the counter for the first time.

A high street first

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    The period delay pill, known as Norethisterone, was formerly a prescription-only medication that women had to be prescribed by their GP.

    In a high street first, Superdrug has announced that it is the first retailer to offer the pill to customers via a walk-in service at its pharmacies, as well as through its health clinics by appointment.

    Everything you need to know

    Women must be aged 18 or over and will be able to have an in-store consultation to allow them to temporarily stop their period, without having to visit their GP. The pill needs to be taken three days before the expected period begins and then delays it until three days after the last tablet.

    Superdrug offers packs of 30, 60 and 90 pills, which last for 10, 20 and 30 days. The packs are priced at £29, £45 and £59 respectively.

    However, how to delay your period depends on whether you are taking the contraceptive pill or not.

    Norethisterone can delay your period for up to 30 days (Photo: Superdrug)

    Not a form of contraception

    Women who are not taking a contraceptive pill can take Norethisterone tablets to delay their period, if medically appropriate.

    If you are taking the combined contraceptive pill, you can keep taking that back to back to delay your period instead of taking the period delay pill.

    Norethisterone is the synthetic version of a sex hormone which naturally occurs in the human body. It belongs to a group of hormones called progestogens, which are also found in mini pills and combined contraceptive pills.

    However, taking Norethisterone tablets to delay your period will not protect you against pregnancy, so you will still need to use a method of contraception, such as a condom.

    Is it safe?

    The NHS recommends seeking advice from a GP or health professional if you want to delay your period and you are not taking the combined contraceptive pill. They will advise when to take Norethisterone, and how long for.

    Women will usually be advised to take three Norethisterone tablets per day, starting three to four days before your period is expected to start. Your period should arrive two to three days after you stop taking the medication.

    The pill may not be suitable if you have a history of blood clots and its effectiveness in delaying periods can vary between women.

    Taking the pill can cause some side effects, including:

    breast tendernessnauseaheadachesdisturbances in mood and sex drive

    Dr Pixie McKenna, Superdrug's health ambassador, added, "The period delay pill offers women more choice when it comes to their periods.

    "Before taking any medication, a patient should always read the patient information leaflet and I'd always recommend taking any concerns or questions through with a healthcare professional.

    "It is, however, not a contraceptive so if you are thinking of having sex, always use a condom."

    This article originally appeared on our sister site, The Scotsman.