Is there a holiday or big event coming up right when you’re expecting Mother Nature to come a-calling? We can help. Understand more about postponing your period with our expert guide

Whether you’re looking forward to a wedding, holiday or music festival, an ill-timed period can be frustrating. If that resonates, you may be pleased to hear that there are ways you can occasionally delay your period for a short time.

Here’s what you need to know…

Can I purposely delay my period?

In a nutshell, yes. While there’s no 100% guaranteed way to delay your period, there are some options you can explore with a healthcare professional.

Dr Shazia Malik, a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist in London, says: “With the advice and help of a medical professional, you can delay your period.

“However, it may not be a suitable option for everyone since hormone treatment is required as well as forward planning.”

Is it okay to delay my period?

Yes, provided it’s for a short time and you’ve spoken with a medical professional to find out what works best for your needs and your medical history.

Be aware that there may be potential side-effects to treatment, and Dr Malik recommends postponing your period only very occasionally.

To explore your options, speak to a Boots pharmacist, community contraception clinic or GP surgery to make sure that you’re delaying your period appropriately.

Ways to delay your period

There are two main routes to consider:

1. Take the combined pill back to back

If you’re already taking the combined contraceptive pill, postponing your period can be quite straightforward, depending on which type of pill you take.

There are three categories of combined contraceptive pill:

• Monophasic 21-day pills: one pill is taken daily for 21 days and each pill contains the same amount of hormone. The following seven days are pill-free to allow for a period (or withdrawal bleed) before starting the next packet.

• Everyday pills: each packet contains two types of coloured pills – 21 active pills and seven dummy pills. One pill is taken every day with no break in between.

• Phasic 21-day pills: each pill contains a combination of hormones that suit each phase of your menstrual cycle. They must be taken in the correct order to help prevent pregnancy.

If you take monophasic 21-day pills, you can delay your period by starting a new packet of pills straight after you finish the last pill and miss out the seven-day break.

If you take everyday pills, you can delay your period by skipping the dummy pills – you can then throw the dummy pills away because these don't contain any medicine – and moving straight onto the active pills in the next pack.

If you take phasic 21-day pills, you must take these pills in the correct order to have effective contraception.

“When you’re on the combined pill, your period is actually just a withdrawal bleed induced by falling oestrogen hormone levels in your pill-free week,” explains Dr Malik. “By skipping your week off and continuing straight onto the next packet of pills, hormone levels are maintained so that there’s no withdrawal bleed.”

When hormone levels are stable, the womb lining remains intact – hence, no period. However, as with any hormonal birth control, there might be some breakthrough bleeding or spotting. In other words, taking two packs of pills back-to-back is no guarantee that it will be 100% effective at delaying your period.

By skipping your week off and continuing straight onto the next packet of pills, hormone levels are maintained so that there’s no withdrawal bleed

Before choosing this method for delaying your period, speak to your GP to make sure it’s safe and appropriate for your needs, especially if you’re aged 55 or over.

For those who are taking a progesterone-only pill (or mini pill), the back-to-back method won’t work for you – but you may be able to switch over to the combined pill. Speak to a Boots pharmacist, sexual health clinic or your GP to discover your options.

Consider Period Delay Treatment

What if you don’t take a contraceptive pill? You might like to consult with your GP who can prescribe treatmentto delay your period.

If you’re aged between 16 and 54, and aren’t currently taking the contraceptive pill or any other form of hormonal contraception, you may be able to get period delay tablets through the Boots Online Doctor Period Delay Service* (other eligibility criteria apply).

You’ll need to have an online consultation and answer a few health questions. One of our clinicians will review your answers and, if the medicine is suitable for you, you’ll be able to have it delivered to your door or collect from a local store.

If you’re aged 55 or over, are still having periods and wish to delay them, consult your GP for further advice.

How do you take period delay tablets?

The prescribed treatment is taken orally three times a day, starting three days before your period is due.

How many days can you delay your period?

You can keep taking period delay tablets until you’re ready to have your period, for up to a maximum of 17 days. Your period should arrive within three days after you stop taking the tablets.

Be aware that period delay tablets are not a contraceptive, so you’ll need to use another form of contraception to prevent pregnancy.

Also, period delay tablets are more effective in delaying the periods of some women than others.

How do period delay tablets work?

Levels of the female hormone progesterone naturally change throughout the menstrual cycle. A few days before a period, progesterone levels fall, triggering the shedding of the womb lining.

Period delay tablets contain norethisterone, a synthetic form of progesterone. By artificially keeping progesterone levels high, the lining of the womb remains in place and the period is delayed.

Who can take period delay tablets?

Unfortunately, period delay tablets aren’t suitable for everyone. Those who have had blood clots or have a history of heart problems or breast cancer, for example, should avoid taking them. The prescribing clinician or GP will always check that the medicine is suitable for you.

*Access to treatment is subject to an online consultation with a clinician to assess suitability. Subject to availability. Charges apply.