There's no guaranteed way to delay your period, but it may be possible if you take the combined contraceptive pill.
Taking the combined pill back-to-back
If you take a combined contraceptive pill, you can delay your period by taking the packets back-to-back.
How you do this will depend on the type of pill you take.
- monophasic 21-day pills, such as Microgynon and Cilest – you take a combined pill for 21 days, followed by 7 days without pills, when you have a bleed (period). To delay your period, start a new packet of pills straight after you finish the last pill and miss out the 7-day break.
- everyday (ED) pills, such as Microgynon ED and Lorynon ED – you take a combined pill every day. The first 21 pills are active pills and the next 7 pills are inactive or dummy pills, when you have your period. To delay your period, miss out and throw away the dummy pills, and start the active pills in a new packet straight away.
- phasic 21-day pills, such as Binovium, Qlaira and Logynon – the mix of hormones in each pill is different, depending on which phase you're in. You need to take these pills in the correct order to have effective contraception. Speak to your pharmacist, community contraception clinic or GP surgery for more information before taking phasic pills back-to-back.
Taking your contraceptive pills in the ways described above will not affect how they work as contraceptives.
If you're not sure which pill you're on, which pills in the packet to miss out, or you need advice, speak to your pharmacist, community contraception clinic or GP surgery.
Taking the combined pill can cause side effects, such as:
- feeling sick (nausea)
- mood swings
- breast tenderness
Progestogen-only contraceptive pill
If you're taking a progestogen-only contraceptive pill, you cannot delay your period by taking packets back-to-back.
But you may be able to switch to the combined contraceptive pill or take another medication to delay your period.
If you're not sure which type of pill you're taking, speak to your pharmacist, community contraception clinic or GP surgery for advice.
If you do not take a contraceptive pill
See your GP for advice if you want to delay your period and you're not taking the combined contraceptive pill.
They might be able to prescribe medication called norethisterone to delay your period.
Your GP will advise you when to take norethisterone and for how long.
You'll usually be prescribed 3 norethisterone tablets a day, starting 3 to 4 days before you expect your period to begin.
Your period should arrive 2 to 3 days after you stop taking the medication.
But norethisterone does not act as a contraceptive when used in this way, so you could still get pregnant.
You'll need to use another type of contraceptive, such as a condom.
Norethisterone may not be suitable for everyone, for example if you have breast cancer or a history of blood clots. Speak to a GP for more information.
How well it works in delaying periods also varies between women.
Some women taking norethisterone have reported side effects, such as:
- irregularities in menstrual cycle
- breast tenderness
- disturbances in mood and sex drive
Switching to, or starting, the combined contraceptive pill
If you currently use another type of contraception, switching to the combined contraceptive pill will allow you to delay your period.
You may also be able to start taking the combined pill if you do not already use contraception.
But you may need to start taking this pill several weeks before the time when you want to delay your period, and it's not suitable for everyone.
If you're switching to or starting the combined contraceptive pill, you might need to use additional contraception during the first few days of taking it.
Ask your pharmacist, community contraception clinic or GP surgery for more information and advice.
Page last reviewed: 17 August 2022
Next review due: 17 August 2025