Technically speaking, you can do whatever you like when you're on your period - from sex to swimming, you should never feel like anything is off limits to you because of your uterus. But between the cramps, the mood swings, the bloating, and obviously the bleeding, it's also totes fair enough if your period and your holiday are not a match you want to make.
The good news is that with a bit of forward planning, it is possible to put your period off until bikinis and beaches are safely off of your schedule. What you need is a medicine called Norethisterone, which can give you up to 17 days delay.
"It comes in the form of tablets which you must start to take three days before your period is due,' explains Dr Kieran Seyan, from the LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor Team. "You must then take three tablets a day during 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." When you get back from your break, you simply stop taking Norethisterone and your period should arrive 2-3 days later.
However, it might seem like a magical solution to all of your period-based problems, but as with any medication, Norethisterone is not without its caveats: Dr Kieran notes that it can cause side effects, and very rarely these can be serious - including increased risk of blood clotting, stroke, acne, fluid retention, headache and nausea.
It’s also not a contraceptive, and will not prevent pregnancy, which is another important factor to consider if there's even the slimmest possibility of peen meeting vagine whilst you're away.
"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 7-day break during which you normally get your period)," Dr Kieran points out. "You can delay your period in this way if you take most brands of the combined contraceptive pill.
"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", he says.
"If you take another brand of the mini pill (otherwise known as the progesterone-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. In this situation you may be able to use Norethisterone in addition to delay your period."
Reckon Norethisterone is the solution you’re after? You’ll need to book an appointment, as it can only be prescribed by a doctor (although you can use online doctor services if you don't have time to go in person). Also, unlike the contraceptive pill, it doesn't come for free. The cost depends on the length the period is delayed for - 7 days delay is £24.99 and 17 days is £28.95 when ordered from Lloyds Pharmacy Online Doctor, for instance.
And as of August 2019, Superdrug has become the first high street retailer to sell the Period Delay Pill. Women over the age of 18 can now walk into any of the retailer's 205 Pharmacy stores to purchase norethisterone.
Superdrug offers three different options - packs of 30, 60 and 90 pills, which can delay a period for 10, 20 and 30 days respectively. Here's how much they cost:
- The 30 tablet packs (delaying your period for 10 days) costs £29.00
- The 60 tablet packs (20 days) costs £45.00
- The 90 tablet packs (30 days) cost £59.00
The pill should be taken three days before the expected period begins.
If you holiday regularly, or are heading off on a trip that’s longer than a fortnight, Dr Kieran suggests you may need to look into a longer-term option.
"It is inadvisable to take Norethisterone regularly," says the doctor. "If you often want to delay your period, your options include taking the combined contraceptive pill back to back or considering a Mirena coil. A Mirena coil can work for up to 5 years and most women have no periods or very light periods with this after the first 6 months."
Dr Kieran Seyan is Medical Director at LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor.
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