Why Is Norethisterone Not Working?

Norethisterone is a medication that enables period delay.

Menstrual bleeding is often quite messy and changing sanitary products can be difficult in some circumstances.  Many women take Norethisterone if their period is due on their wedding day, music festival, beach holiday or a romantic weekend.  Others may take it if they have unusually long-lasting periods and would like to take a break.

This medication is prescription only and can only be taken if your doctor feels that you are healthy enough to take them.  

What Is Norethisterone?

Norethisterone is a progestogen that prevents periods from starting by maintaining a certain level of progesterone.  Your womb will not shed blood if the progesterone levels do not drop.  It is not marketed as a contraceptive pill and should not be taken if you are currently taking the pill.  

Norethisterone is taken for medical reasons as well as festivals and holidays.  Women who need to regulate their periods take them so their menstrual cycle can become more predictable.  If you suffer heavy bleeding that is making you anaemic and ill you may be prescribed norethisterone. Occasional use of a progestogen is not harmful but they shouldn’t be taken in the long term.  They do not prevent the other symptoms of menstruation such as; bloating, PMT and some period pains.  

Side effects include; wheezing, difficulty breathing, feeling faint, swelling of the face, tongue, hands and feet and itchy rash.  There is also a danger of increased clotting if you fall into the following categories; overweight, have a history of blood clots, family history, you are immobile, had a serious injury or surgery and a history of miscarriage.

Why Isn’t It Working

One 5 mg Norethisterone tablet is taken three times a day to prevent a period from starting. The course should be taken between 4 and 5 days before your period is due to start.  Once you stop taking the medication your period should start within 2 to 3 days.  

If you forget to take the correct dose of Norethisterone your period may start earlier than expected.  This is because your body will not be able to maintain a high enough level of progesterone to delay your period.  If you make sure that you follow the instructions properly then the medication should work correctly.

Some women take Norethisterone to relieve the symptoms of endometriosis. This is a condition where menstrual bleeding occurs outside the womb.  The intention is to stop the bleeding and relieve the pain.  However, this solution does not always work for everyone who takes the medication and can sometimes make the symptoms worse.  If you are finding that you are suffering discomfort even when taking Norethisterone you must consult your doctor. (NHS)

If you are undergoing fertility treatment you may be prescribed Norethisterone to regulate your periods. This is because the progestogen is able to stop a period from occurring. You may find that after delaying your periods for a significant amount of time that it takes time for your body to adjust. This may mean that your periods don’t start when you would expect them to.  If you are worried please ask your doctor.

Sometimes medication just doesn’t work for some people in the way it should.  This could be due to the way your body responds to the drugs or you may have an underlying health condition that requires investigation.  If you have any concerns about any side effects or whether your treatment is working please contact your doctor.

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