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Menopause: Medicines to Help You

Menopause: Medicines to Help You

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Menopause (sometimes called “the change of life”) is a normal time in a woman’s life when her period stops. During menopause, a woman’s body makes less of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. Lower hormone levels may lead to symptoms like night sweats, hot flashes, and vaginal dryness along with thin bones.

Some women choose to treat their menopause symptoms with hormone medicines sometimes called Hormone Therapy. The following lists some basic information about the FDA-approved hormone medicines for menopause. Use this information to help you talk to your healthcare provider about whether hormone medicines are right for you.

Do not take hormone therapy if you:

  • have problems with vaginal bleeding
  • have or have had certain cancers such as breast cancer or uterine cancer
  • have or have had a blood clot, stroke or heart attack
  • have a bleeding disorder
  • have liver disease
  • have allergic reactions to hormone medicine

Menopause Hormone Therapy

There are different types of hormone medicines used during and after menopause:

Information about non-hormone medicines for menopause is not included. Ask your healthcare provider about the FDA-approved non-hormone medicine for menopause called Brisdelle (paroxetine).


Side Effects

Hormone medicines have side effects. Serious health problems can happen in women who take menopause hormone therapy.

  • For some women, hormone medicines may raise their chances of blood clots, heart attacks, strokes, and breast cancer.
  • For some women who are 65 years old or older, hormone medicines may raise their chances of dementia.
  • For women who still have their uterus, taking estrogen-only medicines raises their chance of getting cancer of the lining of the uterus or endometrial cancer. These women need to take progestin to prevent endometrial cancer.

All side effects and warnings for each hormone medicine are not listed. Ask your healthcare provider about all the risks of taking hormone medicines.


Estrogen-Only Medicines

Brand Name Generic Name Product Type
Alora estradiol Patch
Cenestin synthetic conjugated estrogens Pill
Climara estradiol Patch
Delestrogen estradiol valerate Injection (Shot)
Divigel estradiol Gel
Elestrin estradiol Gel
Enjuvia synthetic conjugated estrogens Pill
Esclim estradiol Patch
Estrace estradiol Pill
Vaginal Cream
Estraderm estradiol Patch
Estrasorb estradiol Skin Cream
(Emulsion)
Estring estradiol Vaginal Insert
EstroGel estradiol Gel
Evamist estradiol Skin Spray (Transdermal)
Femring estradiol acetate Vaginal Ring
Femtrace estradiol acetate Pill
Menest esterified estrogen Pill
Menostar
(only used to prevent osteoporosis)
estradiol Patch
Minivelle estradiol Patch
Ogen estropipate Pill
Vaginal Cream
Ortho-Est estropipate Pill
Osphena (not estrogen only) ospemifene Pill
Premarin conjugated estrogens Pill
Vaginal Cream
Injection (Shot)
Vagifem estradiol Vaginal Tablet
Vivelle estradiol Patch
Vivelle-Dot estradiol Patch

Estrogen-Only Medicines

Do not use if you:

  • have unusual vaginal bleeding
  • have or have had certain cancers such as breast cancer or uterine cancer
  • have or have had blood clots in the legs or lungs
  • have a bleeding disorder
  • have had a stroke or heart attack
  • have liver problems
  • have serious reactions to estrogen medicines
  • think you are pregnant

Serious Side Effects

  • Stroke or blood clots
  • Endometrial Cancer in women who still have their uterus and who do not use progestin with estrogen-only medicines
  • Dementia in women 65 years and older
  • Gallbladder disease or high triglyceride (cholesterol) levels that could lead to problems with your pancreas
  • Vision loss caused by a blood clot in the eye
  • Liver Problems
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Severe allergic reactions

Less Serious, Common Side Effects

  • Headaches
  • Painful or tender breasts
  • Vaginal spotting
  • Stomach cramps/ Bloating  
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Hair loss
  • Fluid retention 
  • Vaginal yeast infection

For more information about the risks and side effects for each drug, check Drugs@FDA


Progestin-Only Medicines

Brand Name Generic Name Product Type
Prometrium micronized progesterone Pill
Provera medroxyprogesterone acetate Pill

Progestin-Only Medicines

Estrogen-only medicines are usually taken with progestin-only medicines to lower the chance of getting endometrial cancer in women who still have their uterus.

The side effects listed below are for women who take a progestin-only medicine and an estrogen-only medicine.

Do not use if you:

  • have unusual vaginal bleeding
  • have or have had certain cancers such as breast cancer or uterine cancer
  • have or have had blood clots in the legs or lungs
  • have a bleeding disorder
  • have had a stroke or heart attack
  • have liver problems
  • have serious reactions to estrogen medicines
  • think you are pregnant

Serious Side Effects

  • Heart attack or stroke
  • Blood clots
  • Breast cancer
  • Dementia in women 65 years and older
  • Gallbladder disease or high triglyceride (cholesterol) levels that could lead to problems with your pancreas
  • Vision loss caused by a blood clot in the eye
  • Liver problems
  • High blood pressure
  • Severe allergic reactions

Less Serious, Common Side Effects

  • Headaches
  • Painful or tender breasts
  • Vaginal spotting
  • Stomach cramps/bloating
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Hair loss
  • Fluid retention
  • Vaginal yeast infection
     

For more information about the risks and side effects for each drug, check Drugs@FDA.


Combination Estrogen and Progestin Medicines

Brand Name Generic Name Product Type
Activella estradiol/
norethindrone acetate
Pill
Angeliq estradiol/ drospirenone Pill
Climara Pro estradiol/
levonorgestrel
Patch
Combipatch estradiol/
norethindrone acetate
Patch
Femhrt norethindrone acetate/
ethinyl estradiol
Pill
Prefest estradiol/
norgestimate
Pill
Prempro conjugated estrogen/
medroxyprogesterone
Pill

Combination Estrogen and Progestin Medicines

Do not use if you:

  • have unusual vaginal bleeding
  • have or have had certain cancers such as breast cancer or uterine cancer
  • have or have had blood clots in the legs or lungs
  • have a bleeding disorder
  • have had a stroke or heart attack
  • have liver problems
  • have serious reactions to estrogen medicines
  • think you are pregnant

Serious Side Effects

  • Heart attack or stroke
  • Blood clots
  • Breast Cancer
  • Dementia in women 65 years and older
  • Gallbladder disease or high triglyceride (cholesterol) levels that could lead to problems with your pancreas
  • Vision loss caused by a blood clot in the eye
  • Liver problems
  • High blood pressure
  • Severe allergic reactions

Less Serious, Common Side Effects

  • Headaches
  • Painful or tender breasts
  • Vaginal spotting
  • Stomach cramps/bloating
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Hair loss
  • Fluid retention
  • Vaginal yeast infection

For the most recent information about each drug, check Drugs@FDA


Combination Estrogen and Hormone Medicines

Brand Name Generic Name Product Type
Duavee conjugated estrogen/bazedoxifene Pill

You should not use Duavee if you are taking medicines that have estrogen, progestin or both hormones.

Do not use if you:

  • have unusual vaginal bleeding
  • have or have had certain cancers such as breast cancer or uterine cancer
  • have or have had blood clots in the legs or lungs
  • have a bleeding disorder
  • have or have had a stroke or heart attack
  • have liver problems
  • have had a serious allergic reaction to estrogen medicines
  • think you are pregnant or may become pregnant
  • are breastfeeding (nursing)

Serious Side Effects

  • Stroke or blood clots
  • Dementia in women 65 years and older
  • Gallbladder disease or high triglyceride (cholesterol) levels that could lead to problems with your pancreas
  • Vision loss caused by a blood clot in the eye
  • Liver problems
  • High blood pressure
  • Severe allergic reaction

Less Serious, Common Side Effects

  • Muscle spasms
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Upset stomach/stomach pain
  • Throat pain
  • Dizziness
  • Neck Pain

For more information about the risks and side effects for each drug, check Drugs@FDA.


Important Questions to Ask about Menopause Hormone Medicines

  • Are hormones right for me? Why?
  • What are the benefits?
  • What are the serious risks and common side effects?
  • How long should I use hormone therapy?
  • What is the lowest dose that will work for me?
  • Are there any non-hormone medicines that I can take?

Want more information about menopause? Check the FDA website at: www.fda.gov/menopause

The drug and risk information in this booklet may change. Check Drugs@FDA for the latest facts on each product listed in this booklet.

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