My Experience with Norethisterone: the "Period Delay Pill"

I realise everybody is different - especially when it comes to hormones - but before I decided to use the 'period delay pill', I was searching for some 'reviews' (of sorts), but to no avail. So I thought I'd share my own experience.

Some admin, first... I have a very specific phobia of women's internal reproductive organs. Weird, I know. I've been this way since I was little. I passed out in year 5 sex education class, and multiple times throughout my secondary education in biology classes. I can't even say - or, in this instance, type - the names of the internal bits. So apologies if I'm being vague with the technicalities. 

In October, my boyfriend and I went to Disneyland Paris for the Halloween party. My period is always the end of the month and I really wanted to delay it, dreading the thought of having to queue for Disneyland toilets every couple of hours. 
My doctor prescribed me 30 days worth of Norethisterone. You take 1 pill, three times a day. I was told to space them as evenly as possible, but because I'm not using hormonal contraceptives, I don't need to be extremely strict about the timings. From my understanding, norethisterone works by releasing synthetic progestogen, which thickens the bit that usually sheds during your period, effectively 'tricking' your body into thinking it's not ready to let that all go yet. You can read more about that on Pharmacy2u.

In the past, hormonal contraception hasn't been my friend. Whilst I've never been pregnant, it has made me bleed excessively, gain weight, and had a noticeable negative impact on my mood. I currently have the sans hormone copper IUD, which - despite multiple nurses telling me it'd make my periods heavier and last longer - has actually made my periods lighter and more regular. Because the copper IUD has been so good, I hoped that introducing a hormone wouldn't be as troublesome as it has been in the past. 

In short: it didn't work. I got my period anyway. But it was significantly lighter; very thin and watery, and I wasn't really bleeding 'out', there was just a tiny bit of blood on the toilet paper sometimes after I'd been to the loo. I was quite comfortably able to just wear a panty liner all day, and save for hygienic reasons, I didn't 'need' to change it. It wasn't saturated or leaking. I'm prescribed tranexmic acid monthly (a pill that stops bleeding - it's brilliant, ask your GP about it if you have heavy periods), which I'd take a dose of before bed and I'd be fine all night.  

I read online that taking the period delay pill for 48 hours will 'definitely' get rid of your period, so I persisted even when I'd started bleeding. It didn't clear it up, but as it transpired, I'm glad I did carry on with the pill. I stopped taking it when we got back home, thinking because I'd been bleeding the whole time (about 4 days by that point), that I wouldn't really have much longer to go. Turns out that was wishful thinking: all hell let loose. Not only did I have a 'proper' period as if it started from scratch - it lasted another 5 days. And it was heavier than usual. Not to mention the other side effects I experienced from using norethisterone: I had a terrible acne break out a couple of days after stopping taking it, headaches and nausea. If I'd have known this would have been the outcome, I'd have skipped the delay pill, accepted my period, but been very stringent about taking my tranexmic acid. To be honest, it would have had the same effect: a light, barely noticeable, non-bothersome period. 

So here I am, nearly 4 weeks after I stopped taking the delay pill, and I'm currently on my second period of the month, despite having already bled from the end of October through to the first week of November for around 10 days. As you can imagine, this is a barrel of laughs! 

Just thought I'd share my anecdotal experience with norethisterone, it's the kind of thing I'd have liked to have known before using it. But bare in mind I knew I have issues using hormones anyway, so it was a risk I willingly took. Just bare in mind your own experience with hormonal contraception and your GPs advice before making a decision!

Please let me know if this is the kind of content you like, I'd be happy to talk more about ways I've been negatively affected by hormonal contraception, and how good the copper IUD is.

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