Period Delay Tablets

Planned that holiday of a lifetime, a romantic weekend away, or perhaps the timing is just really inconvenient.  Don't let your periods ruin the occasion.  Travelpharm supply, from a UK pharmacy, Norethistreone 5mg tablets (Utovlan) to help delay your period until a more convenient time.  With great prices, a simple free online consultation and fast discreet delivery with our partners Royal Mail, you can rely on Travelpharm.  

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Period Delay

What medicines are available to delay my period?

When looking to delay your period there is only one drug that is routinely used in the UK and that is Norethisterone 5mg tablets.  They are sometimes called Utovlan, which is the brand name.  Norethisterone is a progesterone hormone that alters the menstrual cycle and prevents the breakdown of the womb lining (a period).

How do I take Norethisterone?

This product is only suitable for women. Norethisterone 5mg is taken THREE times daily, starting THREE days before your expected period and whilst you need your period postponing.  Your period should usually start again within a week of taking your last tablet.  If your period does not restart it is important you take a pregnancy test to exclude pregnancy. The tablets do not need to be taken with food but should be swallowed with a glass of water.  This tablet is NOT a contraceptive

How long can I safely delay my period?

Travelpharm will sell up to 3 boxes of norethisterone 5mg which will allow you to delay your period for approximately 30 days.  The product is designed for occasional use only and should not be used more than approximately 3-4 times per year (unless indicated and prescribed by your doctor).  If you are currently using a contraceptive pill then you cannot use Norethisterone to delay your period.  Instead please speak with your doctor, nurse and/or see this article published by the NHS on How to Delay your Period. 

Drug Interactions with Norethisterone

  • Anti-Convulsants for treatment of epilepsy eg Phenobarbital, Phenytoin, Carbamazepine
  • Antibiotics eg Ampicillin, Tetracyclines, rifampicin, rifabutin, co-trimoxazole, oxacillin
  • Antiviral drugs used for HIV - Nevirapine and Efavirenz
  • St Johns Wort
  • Ciclosporin
  • Medicines that have the potential to cause fluid retention NSAIDS, and vasodilators

Side Effects with Norethisterone

Most people will use Norethisterone without any side effects but some people may see the following side effects occur:

  • Spotting
  • Breast tenderness
  • Mood disturbances
  • Upset digestive system (Nausea, Vomiting, diarrhoea etc)
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Fluid retention

This list is not exhaustive and only highlights the most common adverse events (which are usually minor).  The full list of side effects can be found in the Patient Information Leaflet which is available on the product page, in the dropdown "Product Downloads".  The Patient Information leaflet should be read before purchasing and taking this medicine. 

Who should not use Norethisterone?

Norethisterone is a progesterone hormone that has weak oestrogen (estrogen) activity which means that it is unsuitable in patients where estrogens are not recommended.  The following patients should not use Norethisterone:

  • Women who are allergic to any active or inactive ingredient contained in the tablet
  • Who are Pregnant
  • Have a history of miscarriage and jaundice
  • Have a history of Blood Clots, especially in the leg (Venous Thromboembolism) or lungs (Pulmonary Embolism)
  • Ongoing Cardiovascular problems, eg Angina, recent Heart Attack (Myocardial infarction)
  • Liver problems
  • Porphyria 
  • Undiagnosed irregular vaginal bleeding
  • Migraine sufferers

If the following occur whilst using Norethisterone, please discontinue immediately:

  • Increase in blood pressure
  • New onset of migraine type headaches
  • Jaundice
  • Significant mood changes

The risk of Venous Thromboembolism (VTE)

It is well documented that hormonal medicines containing estrogens are associated with increased risk of VTE, but that increased risk is less than the risk during pregnancy but higher than not using estrogens.  Therefore it is vitally important that anyone who uses estrogens or hormonal contraception beware of this very serious risk.  A VTE is a blood clot that usually starts in veins in the extremities of the body, for example, the lower leg.  Typical symptoms will include swelling of the area, redness and discomfort.  The blood clot represents a risk because it can travel very quickly to the heart or lungs which can ultimately and very quickly prove fatal.  Whilst the absolute risk is very low for an event like this it is very important that the user is aware of the possibility of a VTE.  Should you experience symptoms like this, immediately seek emergency medical attention.  A quick blood test is all that is required to diagnose this potentially fatal condition. 

The risk of VTE is greater for those who suffer the following conditions:

  • Migraines especially those with visual disturbances
  • Obesity - doubles the risk
  • Cardiovascular Health issues, like recent heart attack, high blood pressure or high cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Recent major surgery
  • Poor mobility
  • Age: Over 40 risk doubles each decade A
  • A family history of VTE

The evidence for norethisterone and VTE is relatively limited as most studies observed the effect of combined oral contraceptives pills which combine norethisterone with ethinylestradiol. Because 1mg of orally administered Norethisterone is metabolised into 4-6mcg of Ethinyl Estradiol is should be noted that there is a potential risk of VTE caused by estrogens and the advice above should still be considered despite Norethisterone being classed as progesterone. (Mansour D Safer prescribing of therapeutic norethisterone for women at risk of venous thromboembolism J Fam Plann Reprod Health Care 2012;38:148-149.)


The article was written by Andrew Walton MPharm (April 2019)