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All about: norethindrone

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Generic Name: norethindrone (nor eth IN drone)
Brand Names: Aygestin, Nor-QD, Ortho Micronor

What is norethindrone?

Norethindrone is a form of progesterone, a female hormone. Norethindrone prevents ovulation (the release of an egg from an ovary). This medication also causes changes in your cervical mucous and uterine lining, making it harder for sperm to reach the uterus and harder for a fertilized egg to attach to the uterus.

Norethindrone is used for birth control (contraception) to prevent pregnancy. Norethindrone is also used to treat menstrual disorders, endometriosis, or abnormal vaginal bleeding caused by a hormone imbalance.

Norethindrone may also be used for purposes other than those listed in this medication guide.

What is the most important information I should know about norethindrone?

This medication can cause birth defects in an unborn baby. Do not use if you are pregnant. Use an effective form of birth control, and tell your doctor if you become pregnant during treatment. Do not use this medication if you have any of the following conditions: a history of stroke or blood clot, circulation problems, breast cancer, abnormal vaginal bleeding, liver disease, or if you have recently had an incomplete miscarriage or abortion.

You may need to use back-up birth control, such as condoms or a spermicide, when you first start using this medication. Follow your doctor's instructions.

Taking hormones can increase your risk of blood clots, stroke, or heart attack, especially if you smoke and are older than 35.

Norethindrone does not protect you from sexually transmitted diseases--including HIV and AIDS. Using a condom is the only way to help protect yourself from these diseases.

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before using norethindrone?

This medication can cause birth defects. Do not use if you are pregnant. Tell your doctor right away if you become pregnant. Do not use this medication if you have:
  • a history of a stroke, blood clot, or circulation problems;

  • breast cancer;

  • abnormal vaginal bleeding; or

  • if you have recently had an incomplete miscarriage or abortion.

Before using this medication, tell your doctor if you have any of the following conditions. You may not be able to take norethindrone, or you may need a dosage adjustment or special tests during treatment.

  • high blood pressure or a history of heart disease;

  • migraines;

  • kidney disease;

  • liver disease or liver cancer;

  • a history of depression or mental illness;

  • high cholesterol or triglycide (fatty acid) levels in your blood;

  • asthma; or

  • seizures or epilepsy.

Norethindrone can pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. Do not use if you are breast-feeding a baby. Taking hormones can increase your risk of blood clots, stroke, or heart attack, especially if you smoke and are older than 35.

How should I take norethindrone?

Take this medication exactly as it was prescribed for you. Do not take the medication in larger amounts, or take it for longer than recommended by your doctor. Follow the directions on your prescription label.

You may need to use back-up birth control, such as condoms or a spermicide, when you first start using this medication. Follow your doctor's instructions.

If you need to have any type of medical tests or surgery, or if you will be on bed rest, you may need to stop using this medication for a short time. Any doctor or surgeon who treats you should know that you are using norethindrone.

Your doctor will need to see you on a regular basis while you are using this medication. Do not miss any appointments.

Store this medication at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take the medicine at the next regularly scheduled time. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.

Missing a pill increases your risk of becoming pregnant. If you are more than 3 hours late in taking your dose, use back-up birth control such as condoms or a spermicide for at least the next 48 hours.

If you miss a period for two months in a row, call your doctor because you might be pregnant.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention if you think you have used too much of this medicine. Symptoms of an overdose may include nausea, vomiting, and vaginal bleeding.

What should I avoid while taking norethindrone?

Do not smoke while using norethindrone, especially if you are older than 35. Smoking can increase your risk of blood clots, stroke, or heart attack caused by norethindrone.

Norethindrone will not protect you from sexually transmitted diseases--including HIV and AIDS. Using a condom is the only way to protect yourself from these diseases.

Norethindrone side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat. Stop using this medication and call your doctor at once if you have any of these serious side effects:
  • sudden numbness or weakness, especially on one side of the body;

  • sudden headache, confusion, pain behind the eyes, problems with vision, speech, or balance;

  • pain or swelling in one or both legs;

  • migraine headache;

  • swelling in your hands or feet, rapid weight gain;

  • symptoms of depression (sleep problems, weakness, mood changes);

  • severe pelvic pain;

  • chest pain or heavy feeling, pain spreading to the arm or shoulder, nausea, sweating, general ill feeling; or

  • nausea, stomach pain, low fever, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).

Continue using the medication and talk to your doctor if you have any of these less serious side effects:

  • mild nausea, vomiting, bloating, stomach cramps;

  • breast pain, swelling, or tenderness;

  • dizziness;

  • freckles or darkening of facial skin;

  • increased acne or hair growth;

  • changes in weight;

  • vaginal itching or discharge;

  • skin itching or rash;

  • changes in your menstrual periods, decreased sex drive; or

  • mild headache.

Side effects other than those listed here may also occur. Talk to your doctor about any side effect that seems unusual or that is especially bothersome.

What other drugs will affect norethindrone?

Some drugs can make norethindrone less effective, which may result in pregnancy. Before using norethindrone, tell your doctor if you are using any of the following drugs:

  • griseofulvin (Fulvicin, Grisactin);

  • rifampin (Rifadin, Rifater, Rifamate, Rimactane);

  • St. John's wort;

  • ketoconazole (Nizoral) or itraconazole (Sporanox);

  • a barbiturate such as amobarbital (Amytal), butabarbital (Butisol), mephobarbital (Mebaral), secobarbital (Seconal), or phenobarbital (Luminal, Solfoton); or

  • HIV medicines such as amprenavir (Agenerase), atazanavir (Reyataz), tipranavir (Aptivus), indinavir (Crixivan), saquinavir (Invirase), lopinavir/ritonavir (Kaletra), fosamprenavir (Lexiva), ritonavir (Norvir), or nelfinavir (Viracept).

There may be other drugs not listed that can affect this medication. Tell your doctor about all the prescription and over-the-counter medications you use. This includes vitamins, minerals, herbal products, and drugs prescribed by other doctors. Do not start using a new medication without telling your doctor.

Where can I get more information?

  • Your pharmacist has additional information about norethindrone written for health professionals that you may read.

What does my medication look like?

Norethindrone is available with a prescription under the brand names Aygestin, Micronor and Nor-QD. Other brand or generic formulations may also be available. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about this medication, especially if it is new to you.

  • Micronor 0.35 mg-green, round tablets

  • Aygestin 5mg- white tablets

  • Nor-QD 0.35 mg-yellow, round tablets

  • Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.
  • Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. 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 drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.
Copyright 1996-2006 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 1.06. Revision Date: 9/13/06 2:04:41 PM.

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