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About period delay treatment

If you need to put your period on hold, norethisterone/Utovlan/Primolut N tablets can delay it for up to 17 days.

How do the tablets work?

Utovlan and Primolut N are branded forms of norethisterone. Norethisterone tablets contain a synthetic version of the hormone progesterone. Periods are triggered every month by a drop in progesterone levels. By keeping your hormone level high, you can delay your period for up to 17 days.

Norethisterone is a generic medication name. Your pharmacist may supply you with a branded version, such as Utovlan or Primolut N, depending on stock availability. Although different names, please don’t worry, they’re the same medication (Norethisterone) and all work in the same way.
If you have any questions about this, please discuss it with your in store pharmacist who will be happy to help.

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How do I take the tablets?

If we prescribe your period delay tablets, you would take one tablet three times a day. You would start three days before your period is due and continue taking them for up to 14 days afterwards (17 days in total). If you start the course fewer than three days before your period is due, it might not work and you’ll still have bleeding or spotting.

What are the side effects of the tablets?

Side effects are unusual but the most common ones are spotting, irregular bleeding, sore breasts, a lower sex drive and an upset stomach. The longer you take the tablets for, the more likely you’ll experience side effects.

For the full information on norethisterone/Utovlan side effects and how to take the medicine, it’s important to read the Patient Information Leaflet that comes with your tablets.

Important safety information

These tablets can increase the risk of developing blood clots, so move around as much as possible if you’re flying or on a long journey. If you’ve got a history of blood clots, this medicine is not suitable for you, so please talk to your GP.

It’s important that you tell us which other medicines you’re taking — whether they’re prescription or medicines you’ve bought without a prescription. We need to know so that we only prescribe period delay tablets if suitable for you. Treatment is not suitable for people on certain medicines or with certain conditions.

What if I’m pregnant, just given birth or breastfeeding?

If you’re pregnant, could be pregnant, or you’re trying to get pregnant, do not use this service.

If you’ve given birth within the last six weeks, do not use this service.

If you’re breastfeeding there may be a temporary reduction in your milk if you take these period delay tablets.

Do I still need to use contraception?

These tablets are not a contraceptive. You’ll need to use barrier contraception, like condoms, if you don’t have a long acting reversible contraceptive in place, like the coil or an implant. But if you’re taking the progesterone-only pill (POP or the mini pill), keep taking it and it will continue to act as a contraceptive.

You should not take period delay tablets if you’re already using the combined pill. Standard combined pills can be taken back to back, missing the pill-free week, to skip a period. If you’re not sure what kind of pill you’re on, send us a message and we can help.

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Page last reviewed by: Dr. Christina Hennessey 21/06/2021