Norethisterone: Uses, Dosage, Side Effects, and More

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Norethisterone is a synthetic form of the hormone progesterone, commonly used in various hormonal treatments for women. It plays a critical role in regulating menstruation and reproductive functions. This blog post explores the uses, dosage, side effects, and important considerations associated with norethisterone.

Uses of Norethisterone

  1. Menstrual Disorders: Norethisterone is frequently prescribed to manage menstrual disorders such as irregular periods, heavy menstrual bleeding (menorrhagia), and painful periods (dysmenorrhea). It helps in stabilizing the endometrium (the lining of the uterus), reducing excessive menstrual bleeding and associated pain.
  2. Endometriosis: Endometriosis is a condition where the tissue similar to the lining inside the uterus starts growing outside it, causing pain and irregular bleeding. Norethisterone helps in reducing the growth of this tissue and alleviating the associated symptoms.
  3. Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD): Norethisterone can be used to alleviate severe PMS and PMDD symptoms, including mood swings, bloating, and breast tenderness, by regulating hormone levels.
  4. Contraception: Norethisterone is a component of some contraceptive pills. It prevents pregnancy by inhibiting ovulation, thickening cervical mucus to block sperm entry, and altering the uterine lining to prevent implantation.
  5. Delay of Menstruation: Women may use norethisterone to delay menstruation for various reasons, such as during vacations, special events, or athletic competitions. It allows postponement of periods for convenience and comfort.
  6. Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT): In postmenopausal women, norethisterone is used as part of hormone replacement therapy to manage menopausal symptoms like hot flashes and to prevent osteoporosis.

Dosage of Norethisterone

The dosage of norethisterone varies depending on the condition being treated. Below are general guidelines:

For Menstrual Disorders:

  • Heavy Menstrual Bleeding and Irregular Periods:
    • Adults: 5 mg taken three times daily for 10 days during the menstrual cycle.

For Endometriosis:

  • Adults: 5 mg taken two to three times daily for a period prescribed by the healthcare provider, usually for several months.

For Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD):

  • Adults: 5 mg taken once daily during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle (from day 16 to day 25).

For Contraception:

  • Combined Oral Contraceptives:
    • Adults: Typically, one tablet daily as directed by the specific product instructions.
  • Progestogen-only Pills (Mini-Pill):
    • Adults: One tablet daily without a break.

For Delay of Menstruation:

  • Adults: 5 mg taken three times daily, starting three days before the expected start of the period. Continue until the delay is no longer needed, up to a maximum of 14 days.

For Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT):

  • Adults: Dosage varies based on the combination product and individual patient needs. Follow specific product guidelines and healthcare provider recommendations.

Dosage Adjustments: Patients with liver impairment or other underlying health conditions may require dosage adjustments. It’s crucial to follow a healthcare provider’s guidance.

Side Effects of Norethisterone

Common Side Effects:

  • Gastrointestinal Issues: Nausea and vomiting are common, especially when starting the medication.
  • Breast Tenderness: Some women may experience breast tenderness or enlargement.
  • Mood Changes: Mood swings, depression, or anxiety can occur.
  • Weight Gain: Fluid retention and increased appetite may lead to weight gain.
  • Headache: Mild to moderate headaches are common.

Serious Side Effects:

  • Thromboembolic Events: Norethisterone can increase the risk of blood clots, leading to conditions like deep vein thrombosis (DVT), pulmonary embolism, and stroke. Women with a history of thromboembolic disorders should use it with caution.
  • Liver Dysfunction: Signs of liver problems include jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes), severe abdominal pain, and dark urine. Immediate medical attention is required if these symptoms occur.
  • Allergic Reactions: Although rare, some women may experience severe allergic reactions, including rash, itching, swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, and difficulty breathing.

Special Considerations

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: Norethisterone is not recommended for use during pregnancy, as it can cause harm to the fetus. Women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant should avoid using norethisterone. It is also excreted in breast milk, so breastfeeding mothers should consult their healthcare provider before using this medication.

Drug Interactions: Norethisterone can interact with other medications, potentially altering its effectiveness or increasing the risk of side effects. Notable interactions include:

  • Anticoagulants: Norethisterone can affect blood clotting, requiring careful monitoring when used with anticoagulants like warfarin.
  • Anticonvulsants: Medications like phenytoin, carbamazepine, and phenobarbital can reduce the effectiveness of norethisterone.
  • Antibiotics: Some antibiotics, particularly rifampicin and rifabutin, can decrease norethisterone’s effectiveness by increasing its metabolism.
  • St. John’s Wort: This herbal supplement can reduce the effectiveness of norethisterone by increasing its breakdown in the liver.


  • Medical History: Women with a history of heart disease, liver disease, breast cancer, or thromboembolic disorders should inform their healthcare provider before starting norethisterone.
  • Monitoring: Regular check-ups and monitoring are essential for women using norethisterone long-term, especially for those on hormone replacement therapy or managing endometriosis.

Administration Tips:

  • Consistency: Take norethisterone at the same time each day to maintain stable hormone levels.
  • Missed Dose: If a dose is missed, take it as soon as you remember. If it’s close to the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue with your regular schedule. Do not double the dose to catch up.
  • Storage: Store at room temperature away from light and moisture. Keep out of reach of children.


Norethisterone is a versatile medication used to manage a variety of menstrual and hormonal disorders, from heavy menstrual bleeding to endometriosis and beyond. While it offers significant benefits, it is crucial to use it under the guidance of a healthcare provider due to the potential for serious side effects and interactions with other medications.

By understanding the correct dosage, being aware of potential side effects, and taking necessary precautions, women can safely and effectively use norethisterone to improve their quality of life. Always consult a healthcare provider for personalized advice tailored to your specific health needs.

Also read: Levocetirizine Tablet: Uses, Side Effects, Dosage, Precautions and More

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