How to Delay Your Period - Medical Facts vs. Myths

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How to Delay Your Period - Medical Facts vs. Myths

PlushCare Content Team

Written by PlushCare Content Team

PlushCare Content Team

PlushCare Content Team

The PlushCare team is composed of medical doctors, registered nurses, and health experts who enjoy writing about health topics. Our content is reviewed by our team of medical professionals to ensure accuracy.

Meredith Bourne, MD

Reviewed by Meredith Bourne, MD

May 15, 2024 / Read Time 12 minutes

Having your period during a vacation or important event can be such a buzzkill. Who wants to deal with bloating, cramps, and potential leaks while relaxing on the beach, during an important milestone event, or during an exciting travel adventure?

Delaying or changing your natural cycle is something you can talk to your doctor about. While there are potential risks to using hormonal medications to delay your period, such as irregular bleeding, you can often safely delay your period with the guidance of a trained medical professional. PlushCare has doctors who will evaluate your health situation and suggest the most suitable method for you, if applicable.

Medications to Help Postpone Menstruation

If you want to delay your period, there are specific hormonal contraceptives that can help you postpone your menstruation, including norethindrone, the contraceptive patch, combined oral contraceptive pills with estrogen and progestin, and the vaginal ring.

Each hormonal contraceptive method functions uniquely to lessen or prevent menstruation. Keep in mind that all methods come with potential side effects and limitations. Avoid unproven herbal remedies or internet shortcuts, as they might not work and could be harmful.

Norethindrone

Norethindrone is a form of progesterone prescribed by doctors to delay periods for those not taking combined contraceptives. Research shows norethindrone might be more effective than combined oral contraceptives to delay periods, especially if taken in the middle of a menstrual cycle. It also helps prevent breakthrough bleeding associated with hormonal birth control.

Doctors typically recommend three tablets daily, starting 3-4 days before the expected period day. After stopping the medication, periods usually return within 2-3 days. Note this doesn't work as a birth control, so it's critical to use additional contraceptives such as condoms. Some individuals experience side effects such as mood changes, headaches, nausea, altered sex drive, and breast tenderness.

Norethisterone (Primolut N)

Norethisterone, also known as Primolut N, is another prescription medication for delaying periods. It’s sometimes known as “the honeymoon pill”. Primolut N contains synthetic hormone-mimicking progesterone, a vital female hormone for regulating menstruation and supporting pregnancy.

It is also used to treat other hormonal-related health conditions:

  • Irregular menstrual periods with heavy bleeding

  • The absence of menstrual bleeding

  • Alleviating premenstrual symptoms (PMS)

  • Relieving menopausal symptoms when combined with estrogen in hormone replacement therapy

  • Treating endometriosis (a condition where tissue from the womb's lining grows outside the uterus)

Noresthisterone Potential Side Effects and Interactions

Primolut N should not be used by individuals with jaundice, migraines, heart issues, or a history of heart problems. Inform your doctor about kidney problems, diabetes, or other medical conditions. Avoid this medication if pregnant or planning pregnancy. Breastfeeding mothers should consult their doctor before taking this medicine.

While this medication is safe for most people, like any medication, it comes with the risk of adverse side effects. Typically, side effects are more prevalent in the initial month of Primolut N usage and tend to diminish with continued treatment. Talk to your doctor if you notice any the following symptoms:

Combined Birth Control Pills 

If you already take hormonal birth control, talk to your doctor about possible ways to use the pill to skip or postpone their menstrual cycle. Progestogen-only pills do not allow for this method. 

For those using combined oral contraceptive pills, continuing the pill packets without a break can delay or skip menstruation. Using combination birth control pills to delay your period varies in approach based on the pill type:

  • Monophasic 21-day pills: After the standard 21-day cycle, skip the 7-day break and start a new pack immediately to delay your periods.

  • Daily (ED) pills: Avoid inactive pills and take only the active ones to delay periods.

  • Phasic 21-day pill: Since it contains varying hormone levels each week, it's essential to consult your doctor before using these pills.

Contraceptive Patch 

The contraceptive patch delivers hormones through the skin. It is applied once a week for three weeks, with the fourth week being hormone-free to allow for a period. To postpone your periods, talk to your doctor about skipping the hormone-free week and applying a new patch.

Birth Control Ring

This is a small, flexible device inserted into the vagina and remains in place for three weeks before removal for a week to allow for menstruation. Doctors suggest continuous use of the ring, changing it every 3–5 weeks to skip periods potentially. There are two methods to follow:

  • Select a consistent date for ring changes, irrespective of the month's length. For instance, if the first ring is inserted on the first day of the month, subsequent changes should also occur on the first day of each month.

  • Wear the ring for 3, 4, or 5 weeks, consistently changing it on the same weekday each time. For example, if the ring is inserted on a Wednesday, it should be replaced on a Wednesday every 3, 4, or 5 weeks.


Although spotting or bleeding may occur initially, prolonged use typically improves these symptoms within a few months.

Can Plan B Delay My Period? 

While Plan B can impact your menstrual cycle, it is not recommended for period delay and is not a reliable method for doing so. This is because Plan B contains a high dose of the hormone levonorgestrel, primarily halting ovulation (release of an egg) if taken within 72 hours of unprotected intercourse. In instances where ovulation has already happened, it may influence implantation (attachment of a fertilized egg to the uterus).

Plan B can disrupt your hormonal balance, leading to potential delays or unexpected early periods. This unpredictability makes it unreliable for cycle planning. Additional side effects may include spotting, breast tenderness, and mood swings. Therefore, avoid using Plan B to delay your menstruation. Its purpose is emergency contraception, not cycle manipulation. Note also that Plan B does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Avoid using it repeatedly within a single menstrual cycle due to possible hormonal imbalances. Always review the package insert for comprehensive details and potential side effects.

Medications that May Inadvertently Cause Menstrual Delays

Although not designed for such outcomes, certain medications can unintentionally affect your menstrual cycle, possibly leading to delays in your period. These impacts are definite and should not be depended upon to delay your menstruation.

  • Clotrimazole (medication for yeast infection): This does not impact your menstrual cycle, though some women experience brief spotting caused by vaginal irritation.

  • Blood thinners (for instance, aspirin): While these boost menstrual flow, chances of causing delays are minimal. If you experience heavy bleeding, call your healthcare provider.

  • NSAIDS (such as ibuprofen): While they may slightly reduce or lighten periods in some people, delays are rare. Also, prolonged use could disrupt ovulation in isolated cases, affecting menstrual regularity.

  • Hormone Therapy: Specific hormones can impact your menstrual cycle differently, such as causing irregularities. Consult your doctor first, so you understand potential changes in your menstruation.

  • Thyroid Medications: Both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can affect your menstrual cycle, causing delayed or missed periods. 

  • Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy may lead to several side effects on the reproductive system, such as temporary or even permanent amenorrhoea (lack of menstrual periods). Your doctor will guide you on potential menstrual alterations during and post-treatment.


Different medications affect people differently; common medications can affect your period in unpredictable ways.

Can I Delay My Period Naturally?

Unfortunately, there are no scientifically proven natural methods to delay menstruation, even for a brief period. Despite the common myths circulating and online remedies suggesting the use of certain herbs, fruits, or practices to delay your periods, these lack credible research and may even be risky to your reproductive health. Here is why you shouldn’t rely on these "natural" methods:

  • They need more reliability and efficacy. What works for one person could prove ineffective for another, leading to unpredictable results and causing cause and disappointment.

  • Some proposed remedies, such as consuming excessive amounts of specific herbs or fruits, could have adverse interactions with medications or unintended side effects.

  • Your menstrual cycle is vital to your health status, conveying crucial information. Disrupting it could upset the hormonal equilibrium and obscure potential underlying health concerns.


Here are some common myths you may come across:

  • Drinking lemon juice, vinegar, or ginger tea (while beneficial for your health, they do not delay your period.)

  • Taking hot baths or saunas (these can ease cramps temporarily but do not halt your period.)

  • Douching or using vaginal herbs (these practices are risky and can cause infections.)


Avoid myths by fostering open communication with your doctor. It's crucial for navigating your period comfortably and safely. Your doctor can assist in finding tailored solutions and ensuring a healthy, well-informed approach to managing your cycle.

Common Myths About Things That Can Delay Period 

Here are some common myths people often tell about possible things that delay your period that we must set straight.

  • Antibiotics: Antibiotics target bacteria, not the hormones that regulate your menstrual cycle. Although side effects like nausea or fatigue may alter your symptom perception, they do not consistently influence the timing of your period.

  • Sex: Engaging in sexual activity, regardless of where you are in your cycle, does not postpone your period. Conception, potentially delaying your period by preventing its onset, requires fertilization during ovulation. Sex outside the ovulation phase does not affect when your period arrives.

  • Yeast Infections: The infection itself doesn't impact your menstrual cycle, but antifungal medications, such as clotrimazole, can lead to temporary spotting due to vaginal irritation. This spotting is not usually a delay in your period, nor should you rely on it for the same.

  • UTIs: Similar to yeast infections, UTIs do not delay your period. However, the stress and discomfort that comes with it might create the perception of a delayed period. Also, stress can influence hormone levels and potentially affect your cycle.


Call your doctor if you have concerns about your period or suspect any delays. They can evaluate your unique circumstances and identify any underlying medical issues or medication interactions that could impact your menstrual cycle. Book an online consultation with Plushcare, and our qualified doctors will help you in this process.

Natural Causes of Period Delays

Different things can cause missed periods, and if you are too concerned or worried, call your doctor as a precaution. Many women sometimes get missed or delayed periods; here are some typical causes for missed or delayed periods.

Stress: Prolonged stress periods can lead to changes in the length of a woman's menstrual cycle, causing it to be longer, shorter, or even a missed period. Some women note increased discomfort during their periods when stressed.

Weight Loss: Weight loss or vigorous exercise can lead to menstrual irregularities in women. Insufficient weight or low body fat levels can disrupt reproductive hormone balance, hindering ovulation and menstruation.

Birth Control: Birth control methods, primarily hormonal ones, can lead to missed periods for women. Typically, hormonal birth control involves a combination of estrogen and progesterone for a specific duration, followed by hormone-free days to induce a period. At times, these hormones thin the uterine lining so much that it's insufficient to prompt a period. This effect is shared across all hormonal birth control forms like pills, patches, shots, implants, and rings.

Perimenopause: This is a transitional phase before menopause, typically occurring around age 52 when a woman has not menstruated for 12 consecutive months. Symptoms can manifest 10 to 15 years before menopause, signaling fluctuating estrogen levels. These hormonal shifts often lead to irregular menstrual cycles, with women in perimenopause commonly experiencing irregular or missed periods. Menopause is officially reached after a whole year without menstruation.

Hormonal Conditions: Certain hormones, like prolactin or thyroid hormones, can lead to menstrual irregularities in women. A simple blood test can identify if a hormonal imbalance is the reason behind a missed or delayed period. A healthcare professional should investigate the root cause of these hormonal imbalances. While some imbalances may be hereditary or benign, others could indicate more serious issues like a brain tumor. Medication facilitates the restoration of a regular menstrual cycle.

PCOS: Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a prevalent hormonal disorder in women of childbearing age. While symptoms can vary among individuals, those with PCOS often experience irregular hormone levels, leading to the formation of small ovarian cysts, acne, excessive facial and body hair, male-pattern baldness, and obesity. Another common characteristic is irregular or absent menstrual cycles.

Obesity: Obesity can impact a woman's menstrual cycle, potentially leading to missed periods. This could be a sign of an underlying medical issue like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Seeking a proper diagnosis from a doctor is crucial. Diagnostic measures such as blood tests or ultrasound scans may be recommended to rule out any medical conditions affecting menstrual regularity.

Pregnancy: Conception is still possible despite correct birth control use. If a sexually active woman experiences a delayed period, taking a home pregnancy test is recommended. It's essential to understand that no birth control method is foolproof. If you get a negative result on a home pregnancy test but still not getting your period, call your doctor.

If you are worried about missed periods, keep a written record of your menstrual cycles. Include the start and end dates, along with any accompanying symptoms. This record can help the doctor make a quicker diagnosis. While a simple calendar can suffice, smartphone apps are also available for this purpose. While a late period may sometimes be an isolated incident, specific symptoms necessitate medical attention. These include missing multiple periods, a positive pregnancy test, signs of PCOS, significant weight changes, and excessive stress.

Schedule a Convenient, Online Doctor Appointment Today

Always seek medical advice for proper treatment. Inadequate care may lead to recurring severe complications, such as clots. Accessing healthcare online for period delay treatment has evolved into a seamless process. With the ease and cost-effectiveness of our Plushcare virtual services, you can access our top-notch medical care from the comfort of your home, office, or even your car.

FAQs

How do I delay periods for a week?

There are no reliable and safe ways to delay your periods for a week without medical supervision. You can only achieve this with prescription medicines such as norethindrone for short-term delays. However, these come with potential side effects. Consult your doctor to understand possible risks to help you make an informed decision.

Is delaying your periods safe?

Depends. Occasional short-term delays under your doctor's supervision using appropriate medications such as norethindrone might be safe for some individuals. On the other hand, long-term or frequent delays can disrupt your cycle, potentially leading to other health risks. Always consult your doctor to understand your options.

How can I buy norethindrone over the counter?

Norethisterone is a prescription medicine in most countries, including the US. It's unavailable over the counter due to its potential side effects and the need for proper medical evaluation before use.

How do I delay periods with ibuprofen?

Ibuprofen does not delay periods. It might lighten or shorten flow in some individuals, but not consistently or significantly enough for actual postponement. Always consult your doctor and follow their advice on the proper medication.

How long are periods delayed due to stress?

Stress sometimes impacts your cycle, potentially leading to shorter delays for a few days. However, this is an unpredictable and unreliable way to control your periods.  Manage stress through health practices for your overall well-being, but not for period control.

How do you delay periods with home remedies?

There are no safe or even effective home remedies that can help to delay periods. Popular suggestions such as herbal concoctions, douching, or extreme dietary changes lack scientific evidence and could be harmful. Avoid all these unproven methods by consulting your doctor.

Which medicine helps delay my period?

Prescription medicines, such as norethindrone, are the only medically sound options for delaying your period. However, you should never use them as a routine due to potential side effects. Consult your doctor for personalized advice and safe methods. 

What is a honeymoon pill?

The "Honeymoon Pill", or the prescription Norethisterone, is a pill specifically created to postpone a person's period. It earned this nickname due to its appeal to individuals seeking to avoid menstruation during their honeymoon. Honeymoon Pills can delay your period for up to 17 days by maintaining progesterone levels. Take the pill three times a day, starting three days before your expected period. Your period should resume a few days after stopping the pill.

How long do periods usually delay?

If you don't have any underlying health issues impacting your menstrual cycle, your period typically arrives within 24 to 38 days of your last one, based on your regular cycle length. A period is considered late if it's seven days past your expected due date. Once six weeks have passed, a late period can be classified as a missed period.

Sources:

PlushCare is dedicated to providing you with accurate and trustworthy health information.

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  4. National Library of Medicine, "Depression and Its Effect on the Menstrual Cycle," Accessed on February 20, 2024, at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8378322/ 

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  10. University Health Service, University of Michigan, "What are birth control pills?" Accessed on February 20, 2024, at https://uhs.umich.edu/contraception-pill

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