No one likes when that time of the month comes around, however for many people it arrive at fairly inopportune moments. Scientists estimate that the average woman will experience about 450 periods throughout her lifetime, and you can be sure they won’t all arrive when (or where) we want them to!
However, in an era where there is a pill for just about anything, many women are choosing to postpone their periods for a few days to work around their schedules. It can be done though manipulating existing birth control (skipping your “off” week on the pill and moving straight on to your next pack) or by specifically using medication as a one-off solution.
From an upcoming holiday or an important work event, there are various reasons why they might choose to do this. While it’s not something which should be done regularly, it can be an attractive option should the need arise. However, it comes with its own set of risks alongside the benefits.
The Potential Benefits
While most women will experience varying degrees of the benefits, some of the more common upsides include:
Different women experience varying levels of pain when menstruating. For some, the pain may be unbearable and disruptive to their schedules and may spoil an event or important trip. Choosing to delay the discomfort may be an attractive option to allow you to enjoy the event.
Periods are characterised by bleeding, but some women bleed more profusely than others. If left unchecked, profuse bleeding can lead to low blood pressure levels and other associated complications. It’s a common side effect for the next couple of periods to be a little lighter following the use of period delay medication like Norethisterone.
Reduced Menstrual Symptoms
Women experience diverse symptoms before and after their periods. Common symptoms include acne, migraines, and endometriosis. These symptoms are often suppressed when periods are delayed.
As mentioned, periods may come at the most inconvenient times. Using birth control or period delay medication can allow you to plan your cycles around any upcoming events.
As with most things in life, there’s a downside to the upside. These symptoms may or may not present themselves in varying degrees in different women, but the more common side effects of period delay include:
- Breakthrough bleeding – A woman's body often takes some time to get used to the disruptions in its menstrual cycle. As such, they may experience breakthrough bleeding at certain times before the body adjusts to the new routine.
- Swollen breasts
- Cyclical migraines
- Sleep disruption
- Ovarian and endometrial cysts
The downsides of delaying periods depend significantly on the method you use. Norethisterone is one of the best known treatments, and can be used as a contraceptive pill as well as a period delay medication. It belongs to a group of medicines which work by mimicking the effects of progesterone, a naturally occurring hormone. As such, it helps to maintain the lining of the uterus and delays the menstrual cycle when the body's natural progesterone levels fall.
The other option is open to those taking the pill regularly. Most packs will have 3 weeks of pills with a week off, during which you’ll have your normal cycle. By skipping this week off you can delay your period until the next break, usually up to 3 weeks later.
As with any medication, you should consult a doctor before taking the pill as there are several factors to take into consideration including allergic reactions and other general health risks.