Summer is upon us and that means days spent sunbathing at the park and nights spent sweating on the sofa as you binge-watch Love Island. It also means holidays which, if our calendars are anything to go by, will be bigger and better than ever after two years stuck at home thanks to COVID. So, with all those poolside cocktails to look forward to now that the pandemic is (somewhat) over, there's not much that could possibly go wrong, right? Cue Aunt Flo. Shark week. The red wedding. That time of the month. Yep, your period.
It's a situation that many of us will relate to. You're just about to [insert summertime adventure here] when Mother Nature rears her bloody head, putting quite the literal dampener on your plans. But does a ride on the crimson wave mean your holiday hopes are done for? Well, thanks to Boots' new period delay service, the answer to that question is: Hell no!
Period delay pill
"Get period delay tablets so you can postpone your period, not your plans," Boots says of its new period delay service which offers just that – pills to delay the onset of your period – in just a few easy steps.
"If you want to delay your period for a big event or holiday, we can provide access to treatment through our Boots Online Doctor service," says Boots Pharmacist and women's health expert, Bina Mehta.
"The treatment contains a synthetic version of the hormone progesterone," the pharmacist says of how the pills work. "Periods are triggered each month by a drop in progesterone levels, therefore by keeping your progesterone level elevated, you can delay your period for up to 17 days through this treatment."
Why use a period delay pill?
"Period delay medication can be used if you want to be period-free for a big event or holiday," adds Mehta, giving your summer plans the green light.
How do period delay pills work?
"Period delay tablets are a type of progesterone called norethisterone," Dr Deborah Lee at Dr Fox Online Pharmacy tells us. "In a normal menstrual cycle (when you are not using hormonal contraception) your period starts when your own levels of progesterone start to fall, towards the end of the month. When progesterone levels fall, this triggers the onset of the monthly bleed."
But, Dr Lee adds, "When you take additional progesterone by mouth, towards the end of the cycle, this keeps your own progesterone levels elevated, and stops the period from getting started."
As for how to take period delay pills, Dr Lee explains that: "To delay your period, you are advised to take norethisterone, three times a day, starting three days before you would expect your period to start. You then keep taking the tablets for the next two to three weeks, and when you stop, you should start bleeding a few days later."
Are period delay pills safe?
"The medication has a good safety profile when used correctly and as prescribed, but it is important to read the Patient Information Leaflet that comes with your medication to understand side effects and how to take the medicine," Mehta tells us when asked if period delay pills are safe.
But, that's not to say that everyone will be able to take period delay pills. "Treatment is not suitable for people on certain medicines or with certain medical conditions," Mehta adds, also pointing out that you should not use this medicine if you’re pregnant, could be pregnant, trying to get pregnant or if you’ve given birth within the last six weeks. The expert also explains that, "if you take this medicine while breastfeeding, there may be a temporary reduction in your milk."
As for whether there are any side effects to taking period delay pills, Metha reminds us that, "As with any other medication, some people may experience side effects while others may not experience any at all."
With that in mind, side effects of taking period delay pills can include:
A lower sex drive
An upset stomach
"The longer you take the tablets for, the more likely you’ll experience side effects," the expert adds. "You should always read the Patient Information Leaflet before starting any medication so that you are familiar with the treatment and the side-effects to be aware of. If you have any concerns speak to your pharmacist."
Do period delay tablets work as a contraceptive?
"It’s very important to note that period delay tablets such as norethisterone are not contraceptive," Dr Lee advises, telling us that they should "not be relied upon for this purpose."
Instead, she recommends using barrier methods – like condoms – if you're planning on having sex, or taking the Combined Pill. Although, she points out that you'll need to have to be started taking the pill at least seven days in advance to ensure protection, and these should not be used in conjunction with period delay pills. Instead, you can back-to-back your contraceptive pill to avoid having your monthly bleed.
How often can you take period delay pills?
"Period delay tablets should not be taken more than once every three months," Dr Lee notes. "If you want to reduce or get rid of your periods, this can be achieved using other types of hormonal contraception," she adds, pointing out that this can be discussed with your GP or at your local Sexual Health Clinic.
Who can use Boots' period delay service?
"This service is for those who menstruate and want to delay a period," Mehta says of who is eligible to use the service. "It is for people aged 16 years and over, subject to a clinician assessing suitability."
But, the pharmacist adds, "Period delay medicine can increase the risk of developing blood clots, so if you’ve got a history of blood clots, this medicine is not suitable for you, so please talk to your GP."
How much does the service cost?
Boots' period delay service includes the price of a consultation with a doctor, a prescription for the medicine, the medicine itself and any follow up care needed – costing £18 with a prescription for 30 tablets and £27 with a prescription for 60 tablets.
So, there you have it. Happy holidaying!
This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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