Estradiol Side Effects
Not all side effects for estradiol may be reported. You should always consult a doctor or healthcare professional for medical advice. Side effects can be reported to the FDA here.
For the Consumer
Applies to estradiol: vaginal cream, vaginal insert extended release, vaginal tablet
Other dosage forms:
In addition to its needed effects, some unwanted effects may be caused by estradiol. In the event that any of these side effects do occur, they may require medical attention.
You should check with your doctor immediately if any of these side effects occur when taking estradiol:Less common
- Vaginal yeast infection
- Change in vaginal discharge
- clear or bloody discharge from the nipple
- decrease in the amount of urine
- dimpling of the breast skin
- fast heartbeat
- inverted nipple
- joint pain, stiffness, or swelling
- lump in the breast or under the arm
- noisy, rattling breathing
- pain or feeling of pressure in the pelvis
- pain, redness, or swelling in the arm or leg
- persistent crusting or scaling of the nipple
- redness of the skin
- redness or swelling of the breast
- shortness of breath
- sore on the skin of the breast that does not heal
- swelling of the eyelids, face, fingers, lips, hands, feet, or lower legs
- tightness in the chest
- troubled breathing at rest
- troubled breathing or swallowing
- vaginal bleeding
Some of the side effects that can occur with estradiol may not need medical attention. As your body adjusts to the medicine during treatment these side effects may go away. Your health care professional may also be able to tell you about ways to reduce or prevent some of these side effects. If any of the following side effects continue, are bothersome or if you have any questions about them, check with your health care professional:More common
- Abdominal or stomach pain
- back pain
- itching or pain of the vagina or genital area
- thick, white vaginal discharge with mild or no odor
- weight gain
- Body aches or pain
- ear congestion
- loss of voice
- nasal congestion
- runny nose
- sore throat
- unusual tiredness or weakness
- Feeling sad or empty
- headache, severe and throbbing
- hives or welts
- lack of appetite
- trouble concentrating
- trouble sleeping
For Healthcare Professionals
Applies to estradiol: compounding powder, intramuscular solution, oral tablet, transdermal emulsion, transdermal film extended release, transdermal gel, transdermal spray, vaginal ring
Cases of oral pigmentation and ischemic colitis have been reported rarely.
Gastrointestinal side effects have included nausea, abdominal cramps, bloating and vomiting. Some studies have demonstrated a 2 to 4 fold increase in gallbladder disease in postmenopausal women taking estrogen therapy. Cholestatic jaundice, pancreatitis, and enlargement of hepatic hemangiomas have been reported. Postmarketing experience with the vaginal ring has included a few cases of bowel obstruction and vaginal ring use. Postmarketing side effects with Vivelle-Dot include nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, bloating, cholelithiasis and diarrhea.
Oncologic side effects have included reports of an increased risk of endometrial carcinoma in patients with an intact uterus and less persuasively, with an increased risk of breast cancer.
A number of studies have suggested that the risk of endometrial carcinoma is removed (or delayed) by the administration of progestins in combination with estrogen therapy.
The increased risk of breast cancer due to use of estrogens is controversial. Several studies have suggested that long-term estrogen therapy may be associated with a slightly increased risk of breast cancer. Meta analysis of 51 studies (epidemiological data) supports a modest risk increase associated with long-term hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
One study of Swedish women has reported that a 10% increase in the relative risk of breast cancer may occur and that the risk is related to increasing duration of estrogen therapy. In that study, women with more than nine years of estrogen use had a 70% greater relative risk of breast cancer than controls. That study, however, examined use of a variety of estrogen preparations of which estradiol was the most frequently prescribed. In addition, women who took progestins did not demonstrate a decreased risk of breast cancer and may even have been at higher risk.
The Toronto Breast Cancer Study has reported that women who receive unopposed conjugated estrogens for less than 15 years are not at increased risk of breast cancer. In that study, an increase in the risk of breast cancer for women who used conjugated estrogens for more than 15 years was not ruled out.
The Case-Control Surveillance Study has reported that there is "no evidence that the use of unopposed conjugated estrogens increases the risk of breast cancer, even after long duration of use or long latent intervals, but the possibility of a modest increase (less than a doubling) could not be excluded."
Follow-up to the Nurses' Health Study of 1992 concluded, however, that there is an increased risk of breast cancer in women taking estrogen replacement therapy and that the risk is not reduced by concurrent use of progestins. (In that study, greater risk was associated with advanced age and prolonged duration of hormonal therapy.)
A study of middle-aged women in the Puget Sound area concluded that "on the whole, the use of estrogen with progestin HRT [hormone replacement therapy] does not appear to be associated with an increased risk of breast cancer in middle-aged women."
A prospective cohort study (11 years) of 37,105 women by Gapstur et al evaluated the histology of the breast cancer in women who ever used HRT. No association was found between duration of ever HRT use and the incidence of ductal carcinoma in situ or invasive ductal/lobular carcinoma. The duration of ever HRT use was associated with risk of invasive carcinoma with a favorable prognosis (relative risk (RR) = 1.81, 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.07 to 3.07 for HRT use less than or equal to 5 yrs and RR = 2.65, CI, 1.32 to 5.23 for HRT use > 5 yrs, p = 0.005). The relative risk of invasive carcinoma with a favorable prognosis for current users (adjusted for age and other risk factors) was 4.42, CI, 2.00 to 9.76 for less than or equal to 5 yrs and 2.63, CI, 1.18 to 5.89 for > 5 yrs). Risk of invasive ductal or lobular carcinoma for current users less than or equal to 5 yrs was RR = 1.38, CI, 1.03 to 1.85.
The reported effects of estrogens on cardiovascular activity are variable. Alterations in lipid profiles in treated women are thought to be responsible for reducing cardiovascular risks. Data suggest estrogen use may increase blood pressure, particularly in patients receiving high doses, decrease blood pressure, or result in no change. In addition, noncontraceptive use of estrogens in young women (particularly smokers) may substantially increase the risk of nonfatal myocardial infarction. Other studies have concluded that no increased risk of myocardial infarction exists.
Cardiovascular side effects have included studies suggesting that unopposed estrogen therapy decreased the risk of coronary heart disease by as much as 35%. Combination therapy with a progestin may have also decreased coronary risk. However, the extent of risk reduction with combination therapy has not been determined. Data are available that suggest combination therapy does not reduce the overall rate of coronary heart disease in postmenopausal women with established coronary disease. Postmarketing side effects with Vivelle-Dot include deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism and thrombophlebitis.
Metabolic side effects have included reports of generally favorable alterations in plasma lipid profiles. Specifically, increased HDL and decreased cholesterol and LDL levels have occurred. Estrogen therapy may have led to increased serum triglyceride levels resulting in pancreatitis in patients with familial lipoprotein metabolic defects.
Metabolic adverse effects such as hypercalcemia have occurred in patients with breast cancer and bone metastases.
Endocrine side effects have included increased levels of thyroxin-binding globulin which led to increased total thyroid serum levels and a decreased in resin uptake of T3. Free thyroid hormone levels remained unchanged. Other endocrine effects have included decreased fasting plasma glucose.
General side effects have included fluid retention and mastodynia. Alterations in libido have occurred. Postmarketing experience with the vaginal ring has included a few cases of toxic shock syndrome. Postmarketing side effects with Vivelle-Dot include decrease in weight, reduced carbohydrate tolerance and edema.
Many of the reports of hepatic tumors have occurred in women taking long-term oral contraceptives. However, some tumors have been reported in women taking isolated estrogen therapy.
Hepatic side effects have included reports of focal nodular hyperplasia, liver cell adenomas, hepatic hemangiomas, and well-differentiated hepatocellular carcinomas. Aggravation of porphyria has been reported. Postmarketing side effects with Vivelle-Dot include abnormal liver function tests.
Hematologic side effects have included hypercoagulability and an increase in venous thromboembolism.
The clinical significance of such hypercoagulability in postmenopausal women taking estrogens has not been determined.
Ocular side effects have included alterations in corneal curvature and contact lens discomfort. Retinal vascular thrombosis has been reported. Postmarketing side effects with Vivelle-Dot include intolerance to contact lenses.
Hypersensitivity side effects have included reports of reactions including anaphylaxis. Some reports have implicated the dyes contained in some conjugated estrogen formulations. Urticaria and angioedema have also been reported.
Postmarketing reports concerning a transdermal product (Climara) have included a few cases in which there were a combination of the symptoms of generalized hives or rash with swelling of the throat or eyelid edema.
Other side effects have included reports of a possible increase in the risk of "fibrocystic breast disease" by as much as twofold. Postmarketing side effects with Vivelle-Dot include breast enlargement and pain, nipple discharge, fibrocystic breast changes and breast cancer.
Psychiatric side effects have included case reports of rapid mood cycling in patients with severe depression. Postmarketing side effects with Vivelle-Dot include nervousness, affect liability and irritability.
Nervous system side effects have included dementia, dizziness, mental depression, headache, nervousness, irritability exacerbation of epilepsy and new onset or exacerbation of migraine headaches. A case of chorea has been reported in association with estrogen therapy.
Dermatologic side effects have included chloasma or melasma, which did not always resolve following discontinuation of estrogen therapy. Scalp hair loss, hirsutism, erythema nodosum, and hemorrhagic eruptions have occurred. Postmarketing side effects with Vivelle-Dot include erythema multiforme, pruritus, purpura and rash.
Genitourinary side effects have included abnormal uterine bleeding and dysmenorrhea. In some cases, this was bleeding related to endometrial carcinoma. In addition, estrogens have increased the size of preexisting uterine leiomyomata. Postmarketing experience with the vaginal ring has included a few cases of ring adherence to the vaginal wall, making removal difficult. Postmarketing side effects with Vivelle-Dot include vaginal hemorrhage, abnormal withdrawal bleeding or flow, breakthrough bleeding, spotting, uterine leiomyomata, vaginitis, vaginal discharge, ovarian cancer and endometrial hyperplasia.
Musculoskeletal side effects have included arthralgias. Postmarketing side effects with Vivelle-Dot include leg cramps.
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