What Is Norethisterone Used For?
Norethisterone is a period delay tablet that can be helpful if you are planning to go on holiday or attend an event. The medication can also be used to treat menstrual problems such as endometriosis, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and painful or irregular periods.
In this article, we will provide an insight into what norethisterone is used for, how it works, how you should use it, and how long you should take it.
What Is Norethisterone?
Norethisterone is a medication that is mainly used to delay periods. If you have a big event coming up or are planning a holiday you might want to take a period delay tablet such as norethisterone to ensure you are period-free during this time.
The only active ingredient in norethisterone is norethisterone. The medication is also sold under the brand name Utovlan in the UK.
Norethisterone is not considered a suitable form of contraception. It is still possible to get pregnant while taking norethisterone. To stop getting pregnant, women who are using norethisterone should also use contraception (e.g. condoms).
What Is Norethisterone Used for and How Does It Work?
Norethisterone is used to delay periods. It can also be used to treat menstrual problems including endometriosis (when the tissue of the womb lining grows in other parts of the body), PMS (a condition that involves uncomfortable symptoms in the five days before starting your period), and painful, irregular or heavy periods.
A synthetic form of progestin, norethisterone mimics progesterone, one of the main female hormones. It works to delay your period by preventing the lining of the womb from shedding. Norethisterone does this by keeping progesterone levels up, causing the body to wait longer before starting your period.
Norethisterone can provide relief for endometriosis symptoms by stimulating the production of certain hormones in the uterus and preventing the lining of the uterus from growing. It can suppress ovulation, which can provide relief from PMS symptoms and make periods lighter and less painful.
Can Norethisterone Stop a Period Once Started?
Norethisterone can be used to delay your periods, but no type of medication, including norethisterone, can stop your period once it has begun. This is because your womb lining has started to shed as your levels of progesterone (a hormone that supports menstruation) have dropped. This leads to bleeding which occurs during a period.
How Long After Taking Norethisterone Will My Period Start?
Norethisterone – which you start taking three to four days before your period - can allow you to stop your period, usually for up to 17 days. It could delay your period for longer than 17 days, but if you wish to take the tablets for longer than a month, you should consult with your doctor. He or she might advise you to take a combined contraceptive pill, such as Rigevidon and Loestrin.
You can expect your period to start within two to three days of stopping taking norethisterone. Sometimes a woman's menstrual cycle may change as a result of taking norethisterone, but this will usually settle down. If there are changes to your cycle, you should inform your doctor.
Can You Take Norethisterone and the Pill Together?
If you are currently taking a combined contraceptive pill, you shouldn’t take norethisterone. However, it is fine to take with the mini pill (progesterone-only pill). If you want to delay your period while on a combined contraceptive pill, you should take the pill for 21 days, before starting a new packet of pills immediately after you finish the last pill, missing out on the usual seven-day break.
Do not delay your period in this way repeatedly without speaking to your doctor. Norethisterone is not a contraceptive. This means if you are taking norethisterone and wish to prevent getting pregnant, you will also need to use another form of contraception, such as a condom.
Is Norethisterone Safe?
Provided you have received advice on taking norethisterone from a doctor or pharmacist, take the medication as prescribed and aren’t using it regularly, norethisterone tablets are safe.
Norethisterone has certain interactions with other medicines. You should always tell your doctor or pharmacist about any other medicines you are taking before starting to take norethisterone. The effect of norethisterone may be affected by:
- Antibiotics medicines (including cotrimoxazole, rifampicin and tetracyclines)
- Medicines for epilepsy (including carbamazepine and phenytoin)
- Anticancer medicines
- Antiviral medicines for HIV
- Herbal medicine containing St John’s wort
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Ciclosporin (used to treat the immune system)
- Aminoglutethimide (which controls the symptoms of Cushing's syndrome)
- Medicines for high blood pressure
You may be unsuitable for norethisterone if:
- You are pregnant
- You are hypersensitive to maize starch or lactose
- You suffer from undiagnosed vaginal bleeding
- You have blood clots in your veins
- You have impaired liver function
- You have had angina (chest pain caused by reduced blood flow to the heart)
- Have had a myocardial infarction (a heart attack)
Side Effects of Norethisterone
Norethisterone does have some potential side effects. More common side effects of norethisterone can affect between 1 in 10 and 1 in 100 users. They include:
- Breakthrough bleeding or spotting
- Periods stopping
Rare side effects of norethisterone include:
- Breast pain
- Skin reactions
- Oedema (when fluid retention results in swelling)
How Long Can You Take Norethisterone For?
You shouldn’t take norethisterone for longer than 20 days (starting three days before your period, and up to 17 days after). You may take norethisterone for a shorter time if you want to delay your period for less than 17 days.
If you are taking norethisterone for period delay, you’ll be prescribed 5 mg tablets. Take one tablet, three times per day, with a meal. You start taking norethisterone for period delay three days before your period is expected. If you miss a dose, take it when you remember, unless it is nearly time for the next dose. If it’s almost time for your next dose, skip the dose you missed. Don’t take a double dose to make up for the dose you missed.
Using norethisterone regularly for long durations is not recommended. This is because long-term use may increase the risk of side effects. If you wish to use norethisterone for longer than 20 days to delay your periods, ask your doctor for advice.
How to Take Norethisterone
Norethisterone tablets should be taken with food. Swallow the tablets whole with water, and never crush, split or chew the tablets.
In the UK, norethisterone is only available on prescription. You can purchase the medication quickly and conveniently at Cloud Pharmacy. You’ll just need to complete a quick consultation, allowing one of our online pharmacists to assess your eligibility. Once your suitability for norethisterone has been confirmed, we can dispense your medication and send it in a discreet package via our next-day delivery service.