Norethisterone Effects

Norethisterone, commonly known by the brand name Norethindrone, is an oral contraceptive, also known as a birth control pill. Norethisterone contains hormones that prevent pregnancy. Their primary function is to prevent a woman's egg from developing. This means that the egg cannot be fertilised by a man's sperm. As an additional safeguard, norethisterone makes it more difficult for sperm to come into contact with the egg. It does this by thickening the cervical mucus. When considering this medication, talk to your doctor about all the possible side effects.

Side Effects

You may experience some side effects as a result of taking this medication. Some women experience a change in their menstruation, such as decreased bleeding, a cessation of bleeding or spotting between periods. If menstruation does cease completely, have your doctor do a pregnancy test.

You may also experience abdominal cramps, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, breast pain, tenderness or swelling, acne, fatigue and swelling of the feet and ankles. In addition, Norethisterone may also cause headaches, migraines, vaginal infection, vaginal itching and discharge, as well as an increased blood pressure and a change in libido. See your doctor if any side effects are bothersome or persistent.

Rare Side Effects

If you experience more serious side effects, see your doctor immediately. These less common side effects may include sudden and severe abdominal pain, loss of coordination, change of vision, loss of vision, coughing up blood, shortness of breath, slurred speech, sudden pains in your legs, chest or groin, jaundice, and sudden weakness or numbness.

Other rare side effects may include an increased sensitivity to light, brown spots on the skin, change in your body or facial hair and an unexplained weight loss or gain. Women who have a history of breast disease may also notice breast lumps.

Pre-existing Conditions

Disclose your complete medical history and pre-existing conditions to your doctor before taking norethisterone. Some conditions may affect your ability to safely use this medication, especially fibroid tumours of the uterus, blood clots, circulation disease, heart disease, endometriosis, stroke, breast disease, cancer, gallbladder disease or gallstones, liver disease, depression, high cholesterol, a seizure disorder, hypertension, migraines and diabetes.

If you become pregnant, stop taking this medication. If you are not breastfeeding, you may resume taking the drug two weeks after giving birth. Talk to your doctor about using an oral contraceptive while breastfeeding. This medication can appear in breast milk.


Norethisterone may interact with other medications. Talk to your doctor about all other drugs you are taking, both prescription and non-prescription. In particular, norethisterone may interact with medications for infections, anabolic steroids, barbiturates, carbamazepine, oestrogen, gold salts, corticosteroids, cyclosporine, phenytoin, theophylline and phenothiazines. In addition, some of these medications may lessen the efficacy of oral contraceptives.


Oral contraceptives are intended only to prevent pregnancies. To protect yourself against sexually transmitted diseases, always use a condom. Also, you will need to use a condom while your body adjusts to the medication (the first 1 to 3 weeks) in order to provide full pregnancy protection. Be sure to follow all of your doctor's instructions carefully.

Always take this medication at the same time each day to reduce the possibility of side effects, as well as to ensure pregnancy protection. Try taking this medication with food if you experience nausea. The chances of getting a severe side effect are greatly reduced in women who don't smoke cigarettes. Women who smoke while taking norethisterone are at greater risk of developing cardiovascular side effects, as well as liver tumours and even liver cancer.

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