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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

For Consumers

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Medication Safety for Women

Millions of people benefit from FDA-approved medicines. However, when medicines are not used correctly, they can cause serious health problems or even death. Many of these problems can be prevented. Follow these four steps to avoid common medication mistakes:


1. Ask Questions

Ask your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist to tell you the facts about each medicine you take. Good questions to ask about your prescription and over-the-counter medicines:

  • What is the name of the medicine?
  • What is the medicine for?
  • How much do I take? When should I take it?
  • Are there any side effects or special warnings?
  • What other medicines or foods should I avoid?
  • Can I take it if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?


 Materials to help you talk to your healthcare provider.  


  • Use Medicines Wisely - Important questions to ask your doctor and other helpful tips.
  • Medicine and Pregnancy - Questions to ask before using medicines when you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Medicine Booklets - Information to help you talk to your doctor about prescription medicines for high blood pressure, depression, diabetes, birth control, high cholesterol, menopause, and smoking cessation.
  Woman talking to a female pharmacist


2. Keep a Medicine List

Write down the name and important facts about each medicine, vitamin, and herb you take. Keep the list with you all the time. Show it to you doctor, nurse, and pharmacist so that they know about all of the medicines you take.


 My Medicines Record Keeper  

Use the My Medicines brochure to help you keep track of the medicines you take. This brochure is available in English, Spanish, Arabic, Polish, and 10 Asian/Pacific Islander languages.  


 woman putting the my medicines brochure in her purse 


3. Follow Directions

It is important that you use your medicine as directed. Your medicine may not work if you don't follow the directions. Talking too much or too little can make you sick.


  • Read the directions on the label and ask your healthcare provider how much you should take and when to take it.
  • Only take the suggested dose.
  • Learn how to read the drug facts label for the over-the-counter medicines.


4. Safely Store and Throw Out Medicines

Ask your doctor or pharmacist where you should keep your medicines at home. Also ask how you should throw out unused medicines that you don't need. Some medicines should not be put is the trash or flushed down the toilet or sink.




Spread the Word!

You can help promote information to help keep women and their families safe: share our infographic, watch a video, and download our publications related to medicine use.


Share our infographic!

The graphic lists information you can use to promote the safe and proper use of prescription and over-the-counter medications. Visit our infographic page to see a larger image or flickr disclaimer icon  for even more sizes.

Graphic with four women describing safe medication use and medication use facts. Click for full description.


Watch and share a video on medicine safety.


Download or order free fact sheets and brochures. Click the link or go to the Free Publications for Women website.



 Woman reading pamphlet on High Blood Pressure




Contact FDA

Food and Drug Administration Office of Women's Health

10903 New Hampshire Avenue


Silver Spring, MD 20993