What should you do if you need to delay your period?

There may be special times when you need to delay your period. You may be going on a vacation, a holiday, a party, facing exams or any stressful event and simply want to avoid the inconvenience (or pain) of your monthly period. How would you go about it? Are there any risks associated with delaying your period?

Birth control and its effect on delaying periods

  • Delaying your period if you already use any hormonal birth control method is relatively easy and depends on the kind of pills or device you use.
  • If you use the pill, simply continue taking it. However, you should not take the inactive pills at all and open a fresh pack of active pills since these packets contain a week’s worth of inactive pills which you should discard.
  • If you take 21 day pills, start the next pack without a break.
  • If you take phasic 21 day pills, you need to consult your doctor to find out which ones to take and which ones you should not take to delay your period.
  • In case you are using a ring or patch for birth control and this contains hormones, again you need to put in a new patch or ring after three weeks and skip the inactive time when you would otherwise have got withdrawal bleeding (“your period”).

When you don’t use hormonal birth control methods

Hormonal birth control methods may not suit everybody on a regular basis because hormones may have unwanted side effects. However, if you need to delay your period for a short time, you need to use a hormonal method. You can use regular birth control pills for a short period, but the timing of when these pills should be started and stopped is best left to the doctor as they need to be started a few weeks before the time you actually need to delay your period.

Another pill, which does not offer contraception benefits, but contains only progesterone (a hormone) called norethisterone must be prescribed by a medical practitioner. It has to be started three days before the period is due and can be continued for up to 20 days. Two or three days after stopping it, later the period will start.

Risks associated with delaying your period

If you have normal regular periods, it will usually not be a problem to delay your period for a special occasion. Depending on the method you are using, you may need to adopt an alternative birth control method to prevent an unwanted pregnancy. Oral hormonal pills can have side effects like:

  • Bloating
  • Weight gain
  • Nausea
  • Leg cramps
  • Mood swings
  • Headache
  • Breast tenderness

But if you already take oral contraceptives and do not suffer from these side effects, you are not likely to do so when you don’t take a pill break. You should not be taking any hormonal pills (except under medical advice) if you have a history of

  • Stroke
  • High blood pressure
  • Deep vein thrombosis
  • Family history of breast or cervical cancer
  • Liver disease
  • Blood clots
  • Heart disease

It is always better to safe when you are taking hormonal medications to delay your period.

Have you ever had to delay your periods?

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