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Norethindrone Side Effects

In Summary

Commonly reported side effects of norethindrone include: ectopic pregnancy. See below for a comprehensive list of adverse effects.

For the Consumer

Applies to norethindrone: oral tablet

As well as its needed effects, norethindrone may cause unwanted side effects that require medical attention.

Major Side Effects

If any of the following side effects occur while taking norethindrone, check with your doctor immediately:

More common:
  • Frequent and irregular bleeding
  • menstrual changes
Incidence not known:
  • Abdominal or stomach pain
  • blindness
  • blue-yellow color blindness
  • blurred vision
  • breast pain
  • changes in menstrual period
  • changes in vision
  • chills
  • clay-colored stools
  • confusion
  • cough
  • dark urine
  • decreased vision
  • diarrhea
  • difficulty with swallowing
  • discouragement
  • dizziness
  • double vision
  • eye pain
  • fast heartbeat
  • feeling sad or empty
  • fever
  • general tiredness and weakness
  • headache
  • heavy non-menstrual vaginal bleeding
  • hives, itching, or rash
  • irritability
  • lack of appetite
  • light-colored stools
  • light vaginal bleeding between regular menstrual periods
  • loss of interest or pleasure
  • migraine headache
  • nausea and vomiting
  • numbness of the hands
  • pain, redness, or swelling in the arm or leg
  • puffiness or swelling of the eyelids or around the eyes, face, lips, or tongue
  • swelling
  • tightness in the chest
  • trouble concentrating
  • trouble sleeping
  • unpleasant breath odor
  • unusual tiredness or weakness
  • upper right abdominal or stomach pain
  • vomiting of blood
  • yellow eyes and skin

Minor Side Effects

Some norethindrone side effects may not need any medical attention. As your body gets used to the medicine these side effects may disappear. Your health care professional may be able to help you prevent or reduce these side effects, but do check with them if any of the following side effects continue, or if you are concerned about them:

More common:
  • Breast tenderness
  • increased hair growth, especially on the face
  • pimples
  • weight gain
Incidence not known:
  • Brown, blotchy spots on exposed skin
  • enlarged breasts
  • hair loss or thinning of the hair
  • mood swings
  • nervousness
  • weight changes

For Healthcare Professionals

Applies to norethindrone: compounding powder, oral tablet


Genitourinary side effects have included breakthrough bleeding, spotting, change in menstrual flow, amenorrhea, changes in cervical erosion and secretion, and breast tenderness. Changes in the cervical squamocolumnar junction and cervical secretions have also been reported.[Ref]


Endocrine side effects have included increases in PBI, BEI levels, and a decrease in T3 uptake.[Ref]


Hematologic side effects have included an increase in prothrombin time and clotting factors VII, VIII, IX, and X.[Ref]


Hepatic side effects have included hepatic adenomas and cholestatic jaundice.[Ref]


Dermatologic side effects have included acne, melasma, chloasma, and pruritus.[Ref]


General side effects have included weight gain/loss and hirsutism.[Ref]


The psychiatric side effects have included mental depression.[Ref]


Cardiovascular side effects have included edema[Ref]


Gastrointestinal side effects have included nausea.[Ref]

Nervous system

Nervous system side effects have included insomnia, headache and dizziness.[Ref]


1. "Product Information. Nor-QD (norethindrone)" Watson Laboratories Inc, Corona, CA.

2. "Product Information. Aygestin (norethindrone)." ESI Lederle Generics, Philadelphia, PA.

3. "Product Information. Micronor (norethindrone)" Ortho McNeil Pharmaceutical, Raritan, NJ.

It is possible that some side effects of norethindrone may not have been reported. These can be reported to the FDA here. Always consult a healthcare professional for medical advice.

Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided is accurate, up-to-date and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. In addition, the drug information contained herein may be time sensitive and should not be utilized as a reference resource beyond the date hereof. This material does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients, or recommend therapy. This information is a reference resource designed as supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill , knowledge, and judgement of healthcare practitioners in patient care. The absence of a warning for a given drug or combination thereof in no way should be construed to indicate safety, effectiveness, or appropriateness for any given patient. does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of materials provided. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the substances you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist.