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Ethinyl Estradiol

Generic Name: Ethinyl Estradiol (ETH in il es tra DYE ole)

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Jan 31, 2021.

Uses of Ethinyl Estradiol:

  • It is used to treat symptoms of low estrogen levels in women who have been through menopause (change of life).
  • It is used to add estrogen to the body when the ovaries have been taken out or do not work the right way.
  • It is used to put off soft, brittle bones (osteoporosis) in women after change of life.
  • It is used to treat prostate cancer.
  • It is used to treat abnormal period (menstrual) cycles.
  • It may be given to you for other reasons. Talk with the doctor.

What do I need to tell my doctor BEFORE I take Ethinyl Estradiol?

  • If you are allergic to ethinyl estradiol; any part of ethinyl estradiol; or any other drugs, foods, or substances. Tell your doctor about the allergy and what signs you had.
  • If you have had any of these health problems: Bleeding disorder, blood clots, a higher risk of having a blood clot, breast cancer, liver problems or liver tumor, heart attack, stroke, or a tumor where estrogen makes it grow.
  • If you have thickening of the endometrium (lining of the uterus).
  • If you have unexplained vaginal bleeding.
  • If you have porphyria.
  • If you have a rare hereditary problem of galactose intolerance, Lapp lactase deficiency, or glucose-galactose malabsorption.
  • If you are pregnant or may be pregnant. Do not take ethinyl estradiol if you are pregnant.
  • If you are breast-feeding. Do not breast-feed while you take ethinyl estradiol.

This is not a list of all drugs or health problems that interact with ethinyl estradiol.

Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all of your drugs (prescription or OTC, natural products, vitamins) and health problems. You must check to make sure that it is safe for you to take ethinyl estradiol with all of your drugs and health problems. Do not start, stop, or change the dose of any drug without checking with your doctor.

What are some things I need to know or do while I take Ethinyl Estradiol?

  • Tell all of your health care providers that you take ethinyl estradiol. This includes your doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and dentists.
  • Use estrogens with or without progestin for the shortest time needed at the lowest useful dose.
  • There may be a higher chance of breast cancer.
  • Be sure to have regular breast exams and gynecology check-ups. You will also need to do breast self-exams as you have been told.
  • This medicine may raise the chance of blood clots, a stroke, or a heart attack. Talk with the doctor.
  • Talk with your doctor if you will need to be still for long periods of time like long trips, bedrest after surgery, or illness. Not moving for long periods may raise your chance of blood clots.
  • Have blood work checked as you have been told by the doctor. Talk with the doctor.
  • This medicine may affect certain lab tests. Tell all of your health care providers and lab workers that you take ethinyl estradiol.
  • High blood pressure has happened with drugs like this one. Have your blood pressure checked as you have been told by your doctor.
  • If you have high blood sugar (diabetes), you will need to watch your blood sugar closely.
  • If you have any signs of pregnancy or if you have a positive pregnancy test, call your doctor right away.

How is this medicine (Ethinyl Estradiol) best taken?

Use ethinyl estradiol as ordered by your doctor. Read all information given to you. Follow all instructions closely.

  • Take with or without food. Take with food if it causes an upset stomach.
  • Keep taking ethinyl estradiol as you have been told by your doctor or other health care provider, even if you feel well.

What do I do if I miss a dose?

  • Take a missed dose as soon as you think about it.
  • If it is close to the time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your normal time.
  • Do not take 2 doses at the same time or extra doses.

What are some side effects that I need to call my doctor about right away?

WARNING/CAUTION: Even though it may be rare, some people may have very bad and sometimes deadly side effects when taking a drug. Tell your doctor or get medical help right away if you have any of the following signs or symptoms that may be related to a very bad side effect:

  • Signs of an allergic reaction, like rash; hives; itching; red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin with or without fever; wheezing; tightness in the chest or throat; trouble breathing, swallowing, or talking; unusual hoarseness; or swelling of the mouth, face, lips, tongue, or throat.
  • Signs of liver problems like dark urine, feeling tired, not hungry, upset stomach or stomach pain, light-colored stools, throwing up, or yellow skin or eyes.
  • Chest pain or pressure.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Very upset stomach or throwing up.
  • Weakness on 1 side of the body, trouble speaking or thinking, change in balance, drooping on one side of the face, or blurred eyesight.
  • Swelling, warmth, numbness, change of color, or pain in a leg or arm.
  • Signs of high blood pressure like very bad headache or dizziness, passing out, or change in eyesight.
  • Change in how contact lenses feel in the eyes.
  • Spotting or vaginal bleeding that is very bad or does not go away.
  • A lump in the breast, breast pain or soreness, or nipple discharge.
  • Breast pain.
  • Low mood (depression).
  • Mood changes.

What are some other side effects of Ethinyl Estradiol?

All drugs may cause side effects. However, many people have no side effects or only have minor side effects. Call your doctor or get medical help if any of these side effects or any other side effects bother you or do not go away:

For all patients taking ethinyl estradiol:

  • Upset stomach or throwing up.
  • Headache.
  • Vaginal bleeding or spotting.
  • Weight gain.

Men:

  • Enlarged breasts.
  • Not able to get or keep an erection.

These are not all of the side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, call your doctor. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects.

You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-332-1088. You may also report side effects at https://www.fda.gov/medwatch.

If OVERDOSE is suspected:

If you think there has been an overdose, call your poison control center or get medical care right away. Be ready to tell or show what was taken, how much, and when it happened.

How do I store and/or throw out Ethinyl Estradiol?

  • Store at room temperature.
  • Store in a dry place. Do not store in a bathroom.
  • Keep all drugs in a safe place. Keep all drugs out of the reach of children and pets.
  • Throw away unused or expired drugs. Do not flush down a toilet or pour down a drain unless you are told to do so. Check with your pharmacist if you have questions about the best way to throw out drugs. There may be drug take-back programs in your area.

Consumer information use

  • If your symptoms or health problems do not get better or if they become worse, call your doctor.
  • Do not share your drugs with others and do not take anyone else's drugs.
  • Some drugs may have another patient information leaflet. Check with your pharmacist. If you have any questions about ethinyl estradiol, please talk with your doctor, nurse, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
  • If you think there has been an overdose, call your poison control center or get medical care right away. Be ready to tell or show what was taken, how much, and when it happened.

Frequently asked questions

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.