Norethisterone is a form of synthetic progesterone, similar to the progesterone women produce naturally in their bodies. The progesterone can help with hormone imbalance which can alleviate the symptoms of many menstrual problems. Norethisterone is the name of the active ‘progesterone’ ingredient. Norethisterone is commonly known as the period delay pill. You start taking it 3 days before the start of your period and it can delay your period by up to 17 days. This can be useful for a special event or holiday. Your period will come 2 to 3 days after you stop taking it. Norethisterone can also help with Pre-Menstrual Tension (PMT) and a variety of period disorders, or in the treatment of endometriosis and breast cancer. (see next section for further details)
Do you suffer from painful irregular periods? Normal periods are painful enough, but if you suffer from particularly painful or irregular periods or have endometriosis or another condition with these symptoms then you are likely to be on the lookout for help in the form of medication to alleviate or treat the symptoms of the disorder.
Looking to delay the start of your period? There are any number of reasons as to why you might want to delay your period. No time for painful cramps, bloating and mood swings. An important week at work? A holiday you just want to enjoy without the hassle of having your period. I’m sure you can come up with a hundred reasons, but is it possible? It is and there are several solutions, including getting a prescription for Norethisterone.
What is Norethisterone?
Norethisterone is a form of synthetic progesterone, similar to the progesterone women produce naturally in their bodies. The progesterone can help with hormone imbalance which can alleviate the symptoms of many menstrual problems. Norethisterone is the name of the active ‘progesterone’ ingredient.
Norethisterone is commonly known as the period delay pill. You start taking it 3 days before the start of your period and it can delay your period by up to 17 days. This can be useful for a special event or holiday. Your period will come 2 to 3 days after you stop taking it.
Norethisterone can also help with Pre-Menstrual Tension (PMT) and a variety of period disorders, or in the treatment of endometriosis and breast cancer. (see next section for further details)
When is Norethisterone used?
Norethisterone is used for treating conditions caused by hormone imbalance. It is prescribed to women who are having problems with or who would like to delay their menstrual cycle. It is generally used by women who are of child-bearing age.
It can be used tin the following situations:
- To treat dysfunctional uterine bleeding (heavy, painful or irregular periods);
- To treat the symptoms of endometriosis;
- To ease the symptoms of PMT
Norethisterone can also be taken to delay your period by up to 17 days or for the treatment of breast cancer.
It can be used for something as simple as preventing your period whilst on holiday or for a special event.
Norethisterone is also used to treat breast cancer.
How do you use Norethisterone?
Norethisterone is an oral medicine that comes in 5mg tablets. The tablet should be swallowed whole without chewing and taken with water and food, it is usually taken several times a day for a specific time-frame. The amount you take will depend on the condition you are taking it for, see the dosages section for more information. Always follow the instructions of your doctor.
What dosages are there?
The dose you take and the length of the treatment for Norethisterone will depend what you are taking it for:
- To stop dysfunctional uterine bleeding: 5mg, 3 times a day for 10 days;
- To prevent dysfunctional bleeding: 5mg, 2 times a day, from day 19 to day 26 of your menstrual cycle;
- For painful periods: 5mg, 3 times a day, from day 5 to day 24 of your cycle;
- For the treatment of endometriosis: 5mg, 3 times a day for at least 6 months;
- For breast cancer: 8, 5mg tablets a day (your doctor may increase this to 12 tablets);
- To delay your period: 5mg, 3 times a day, starting 3 days before your period is due.
- To ease the symptoms of PMT: 5mg once a day for 10 days starting 16 days after the beginning of your last period.
Please note the dosages above are given as a guide. You should always follow the advice of the doctor prescribing the medicine when it comes to the correct dose and timeframe for taking medication.
What are the side effects of Norethisterone?
Like all medicines Norethisterone can cause side effects, although not everyone taking the medication gets them.
Serious side effects. In rare cases Norethisterone can cause severe allergic reaction, be on the look-out for:
- Breathing issues
- Feeling faint
- Swelling of the face, tongue, hands or feet
- An itchy rash
If you experience any of these symptoms seek medical assistance immediately.
You should stop taking Norethisterone and seek medical help straight away if you experience any of the signs of Blood clots and Deep-Vein Thrombosis (DVT) below:
Blood clot in the lungs:
- Sudden sharp pain in your chest
- Sudden shortness of breath
- Coughing up blood
- Your heart beat is faster than normal
Blood clot in the brain (a stroke):
- An unusually long or severe headache
- Sight problems
- Difficulty speaking
- Numbness in any part of your body
- You collapse or faint
- Severe pain or tenderness in your foot, ankle or calf;
- Purple or red warm skin on the leg.
You should also be vigilant for yellowing skin (jaundice) or eyes as it could be a sign of liver problems, and for migraines if you’ve never had them before.
Other side effects:
- Bleeding and spotting between periods
- Unusual vaginal bleeding
- Missing periods
- Changes in cervical discharge
- Cervical erosions (will be detected during a smear test)
- Breast pain and tenderness
- Milky discharge from the breasts
- Difficulty sleeping
- Extreme happiness
- Problems with vision
- Skin rashes
- Increased body hair
- Hair loss
- Changes in blood sugar levels
- Fluid retention
- Weight gain
- Altered appetite
- Altered sex drive
If you experience any side effects, you should consult your doctor.
When shouldn’t you use Norethisterone?
Do not take Norethisterone if you are allergic to any of the ingredients listed on the information leaflet.
Norethisterone should not be used if you have any of the following conditions:
- Blood clots, or you have an illness that puts you more at risk of blood clots
- Liver disease or a history of liver disease
- Any hormone-related cancer or a history of hormone-related cancer
- Diabetes or damaged blood vessels
- Vaginal bleeding of unknown cause
You should always inform the prescribing doctor of any medication you are taking including supplements and vitamins.
- Norethisterone should not be taken whilst you are pregnant or trying for a baby. Tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding
- Norethisterone should not affect your ability to drive or operate heavy machinery
- Norethisterone does not interact with alcohol so you can drink whilst taking this medication
Does Norethisterone interact with other medications?
There are no specific medications listed to avoid taking with Norethisterone on the patient leaflet, however you should always talk to your doctor about any other medication you are taking, including vitamins and supplements, so that they can check the combination is ok.
Where can I buy Norethisterone?
Norethisterone is a prescription medicine, it is not available over the counter without a prescription. Once you have a prescription you can order Norethisterone from any pharmacy or online.
Can I get Norethisterone without a prescription?
The short answer is no, Norethisterone is a prescription only drug.
To delay your period, you will need to start taking Norethisterone 3 days before your period is due, so it is worth bearing this in mind when trying to get a prescription and purchase the medicine.
Bayer PLC (2008, December) Retrieved from https://downloads.dokteronline.com/leaflets/en/patient_information_leaflet-404-primolut-uk.pdf-1562074561.pdf?_ga=2.39784355.1442913771.1601361456-2071352208.1599043266
National Institute for Healthcare and Excellence, (2018) Retrieved from https://bnf.nice.org.uk/drug/norethisterone.html