Period Delaying Pills: What You Need to Know

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The holiday season is upon us, and I’m sure many of us have vacation plans in the coming weeks as well. Think of all the fun you’ll have taking cute #OOTDs, visiting beautiful places you’ve never been before, and just enjoying your well deserved break. But then imagine if your period comes on the first day of your getaway, now wouldn’t that be a downer? This is where period delaying pills, such as Primolut N, come into the picture. But what exactly does taking these pills (or medication) do to your body? And how are they different from birth control? We’ll be answering some of these questions today!

1. What are period delaying pills, and how do they work?

Like the name suggests, the pills are useful for women who seek to delay their period, for reasons such as not wanting their period to come on important occasions, or during vacations. They are effective in delaying periods for up to 17 days. These pills contain Norethisterone, which is a man-made version of progesterone, a female sex hormone. Your body’s progesterone levels will drop if the ovum is not fertilised, and hence prep your body to discharge the ovum and uterine lining (which will lead to your period), so taking Norethisterone will prevent this from happening, as it keeps progesterone levels artificially high, hence delaying your period.

2. How are period delaying pills different from birth control pills?

While birth control pills can usually delay your period as well, period delaying pills are not contraceptives, so taking them will not provide any form of birth control. Period delaying pills contain progesterone, which simply prevent the discharge of the uterine lining and ovum during your period. On the other hand, birth control pills contain other hormones that stop the body from ovulating, and change the uterine lining to make it hard for a fertilised ovum to become implanted. So the functions of both type of pills are very different. For period delay pills, you are simply disallowing the ovum to be discharged during your period, so fertilisation and pregnancy can still occur, while for birth control pills, fertilisation cannot happen, and hence you won’t get pregnant while taking birth control pills.

3. What are the side effects of taking period delaying pills?

These pills usually do not produce any side effects if taken for a short period of time. However, some women do complain of rashes, dizziness, headaches, or fluid retention.Delaying your period for a short period of time is also safe if done with the supervision of a doctor. That said, Norethisterone should not be taken for long periods of time as it may cause hormone imbalances, or even jaundice. So it is good as a once-in-a-blue-moon option, and should also not be used as a recurring method to delay your period, as this will disrupt your hormone balance, and hence bring along the associated side effects.

4. Will I get my period after I stop taking the pills?

Yes, your period will usually come 3 to 4 days after you stop using the pills. However, this duration of time may be differ from person to person, as your body will have to readjust its hormone levels back to normal after you stop taking the pills. However, if your period doesn’t come for more than a week after stopping,  you should take a pregnancy test to rule out that possibility.

5. How and when should I take the pills?

You should take your first pill 3 days before the expected start of your period, and it is common to take 1 pill 3 times a day around the same time, each day (though this may be different depending on your dosage). If you forget to take a pill, take it as soon as you remember to, but if it is close to the time that you are supposed to take your next pill, skip that dose and just continue on to the next one, do not take 2 doses together.

6. Where can I get these pills?

In Singapore, Norethisterone is a prescription-only drug, so it can only be administered by your GP or gynaecologist, and is not available over the counter.

As with all types of medication, you should be informed of the possible side-effects of the medication as well as it’s effectiveness to weigh the pros and cons of deciding on whether to go use it. And we hope that the information we provided you with today was useful in helping you make that decision!


On an ending note, if you are planning for travel, don’t forget to bring along MenstruHeat. You’ll never know when aunt flo comes along and it always helps to have a spare heating pad that could save you the agony when your cramps strike! Happy travelling and stay safe! 🙂

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Chen Wei Chua

Chen Wei is an undergrad majoring in Psychology. She's currently spending a year in New York City, where she's interning at a startup. When she's not at work, you can find her practising yoga, or exploring the Big Apple with her camera in hand.
4 comments Add yours
  1. I’m wondering which clinics in Singapore dispense norethisterone.
    Or at least prescribe and then I can proceed to pharmacies to get the medicine.
    Could u help me on this? Thanks

    1. Hi Jessica, we’re not too sure how much it costs but you’ll have to get a prescription for norethisterone from the doctor. It’s not advisable to delay your period though!

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