The menstrual cycle is a normal part of a woman’s life, but there are times when one would prefer not to get their period: a holiday, a wedding, an event. For others, the wish to delay their period is about reducing the debilitating pain or heavy blood flow.
Roughly 15-25% of females in the U.S. experienced menstrual irregularities. A much higher percentage complain of cramps or mood swings, before or during their period.
Luckily, there are ways to delay your period. If you are going on holiday or have a big event coming up. You could take your regular combined oral contraceptive back-to-back, without a seven-day break, keeping in mind that this may cause some spotting.
If you are on a progesterone-only pill, you cannot delay your period by taking two packs back-to-back. You could consider swapping to a combined pill if you are currently on the mini pill.
It is not advisable to delay your period frequently. If you suffer from endometriosis or very heavy and painful periods, Provera may be a better solution.
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What is Provera?
Provera is the brand name for a type of progesterone hormone called medroxyprogesterone acetate which treats irregular menstruation and abnormal bleeding. It can also be used to address endometriosis. Provera comes in doses of 2.5 mg, 5 mg, and 10 mg.
Who should take Provera?
Women who experience very heavy, painful periods may benefit from taking Provera. The active ingredient, medroxyprogesterone, has been shown to help balanced hormone levels and regulate menstruation. Provera may also be a good option for women with endometriosis – a condition during which the tissue lining the womb grows outside of the womb. Provera stops the growth of abnormal endometrial tissue.
Provera may also be prescribed at very high doses to treat endometrial, breast and kidney cancer.
How should you take Provera?
Dosage and treatment duration with Provera will vary depending on the condition you are treating. It’s best to speak to a healthcare provider about your individual needs.
To treat heavy or painful periods, you should take Provera each month for 5 to 10 days starting on the first day of your period. Your period should come on as soon as you stop taking the pill. After 2 months on Provera, your periods should return to normal.
If you are treating endometriosis, your doctor may prescribe the highest dose of Provera to be taken 3 times a day for 3 months. It’s important to follow your doctor’s advice on how to take the pill.
What are the side effects?
Some of the most common side effects associated with Provera include:
- Sickness and nausea
- Breast tenderness
- Weight gain
- Depression or tiredness
- Acne or rash
As with most hormonal medications, there’s an increased risk of blood clots. Certain patients should not take Provera. Do not take Provera if you have:
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding
- Hormone-related cancer
- Liver conditions
- A history of blood clot or stroke
Avoid smoking while on Provera, and seek medical help if you accidentally take a higher dose than recommended. Stop taking Provera immediately and seek medical help if you experience an allergic reaction.
Certain drugs are known to interact with Provera. If you take any of the following, make sure you tell your doctor about them before going on Provera.
- Blood thinners
- Medicines to treat Cushing’s syndrome
- Phenobarbital, phenytoin, and carbamazepine
- Ritonavir and nelfinavir
- Medication to treat infections (rifampicin, rifabutin, efavirenz, nevirapine)
- "Reproductive health: what women say". in , , 2019, <https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/reproductive-health-what-women-say> [accessed 22 October 2019].
- "Women often keep impact of menstrual pain, bleeding to themselves". in , , 2019, <https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-menstruation/women-often-keep-impact-of-menstrual-pain-bleeding-to-themselves-idUSKCN1RH2EL> [accessed 22 October 2019].
- "Provera Uses, Side Effects & Warnings - Drugs.com". in , , 2019, <https://www.drugs.com/mtm/provera.html> [accessed 22 October 2019].
- in Medicines.org.uk, , 2019, <https://www.medicines.org.uk/emc/files/pil.3547.pdf> [accessed 22 October 2019].
Reviewed by Dr Roy Kedem, MD
Information last reviewed 12/06/21