Health Guide
Drug Guide

Estrogen (Oral route, parenteral route, topical application route, transdermal route)

Brand Names:

Dosage Forms:

Uses of This Medicine:

Estrogens are female hormones. They are produced by the body and are necessary for the normal sexual development of the female and for the regulation of the menstrual cycle during the childbearing years.

The ovaries begin to produce less estrogen after menopause (the change of life). This medicine is prescribed to make up for the lower amount of estrogen. Estrogens help relieve signs of menopause, such as hot flashes and unusual sweating, chills, faintness, or dizziness.

Estrogens are prescribed for several reasons:

Estrogens may also be used for other conditions as determined by your doctor.

There is no medical evidence to support the belief that the use of estrogens will keep the patient feeling young, keep the skin soft, or delay the appearance of wrinkles. Nor has it been proven that the use of estrogens during menopause will relieve emotional and nervous symptoms, unless these symptoms are caused by other menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes or hot flushes.

Estrogens are available only with your doctor's prescription.

Once a medicine has been approved for marketing for a certain use, experience may show that it is also useful for other medical problems. Although these uses are not included in product labeling, estrogen is used in certain patients with the following medical conditions:

Before Using This Medicine:


Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to medicines in this group or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.


Use of this medicine before puberty is not recommended. Growth of bones can be stopped early. Girls and boys may develop growth of breasts. Girls may have vaginal changes, including vaginal bleeding.

This medicine may be used to start puberty in teenagers with some types of delayed puberty.

Older adults

Elderly people are especially sensitive to the effects of estrogens. This may increase the chance of side effects during treatment, especially stroke, invasive breast cancer, and memory problems.


Estrogens are not recommended for use during pregnancy or right after giving birth. Becoming pregnant or maintaining a pregnancy is not likely to occur around the time of menopause.

Certain estrogens have been shown to cause serious birth defects in humans and animals. Some daughters of women who took diethylstilbestrol (DES) during pregnancy have developed reproductive (genital) tract problems and, rarely, cancer of the vagina or cervix (opening to the uterus) when they reached childbearing age. Some sons of women who took DES during pregnancy have developed urinary-genital tract problems.


Use of this medicine is not recommended in nursing mothers. Estrogens pass into the breast milk and their possible effect on the baby is not known.

Other medicines

Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. When you are taking any of these medicines, it is especially important that your healthcare professional know if you are taking any of the medicines listed below. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.

Using medicines in this class with any of the following medicines is not recommended. Your doctor may decide not to treat you with a medication in this class or change some of the other medicines you take.

Using medicines in this class with any of the following medicines is usually not recommended, but may be required in some cases. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.

Other interactions

Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. Discuss with your healthcare professional the use of your medicine with food, alcohol, or tobacco.

Other medical problems

The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of medicines in this class. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:

For all patients

For males treated for breast or prostate cancer:

Proper Use of This Medicine:

Take this medicine only as directed by your doctor. Do not take more of it and do not take or use it for a longer time than your doctor ordered. For patients taking any of the estrogens by mouth, try to take the medicine at the same time each day to reduce the possibility of side effects and to allow it to work better.

This medicine usually comes with patient information or directions. Read and follow the instructions in the insert carefully. Ask your doctor if you have any questions.

For patients taking any of the estrogens by mouth or by injection:

For patients using the transdermal (skin patch):

For patients using the topical emulsion (skin lotion):

If you are using the Evamist® transdermal spray:


The dose medicines in this class will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of these medicines. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.

The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.

Missed dose

If you miss a dose of this medicine, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not double doses.

If you miss a dose of this medicine, apply it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule.

If you forget to wear or change a patch, put one on as soon as you can. If it is almost time to put on your next patch, wait until then to apply a new patch and skip the one you missed. Do not apply extra patches to make up for a missed dose.


Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light. Keep from freezing.

Keep out of the reach of children.

Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.

Ask your healthcare professional how you should dispose of any medicine you do not use.

Precautions While Using This Medicine:

It is very important that your doctor check your progress at regular visits to make sure this medicine does not cause unwanted effects. These visits will usually be every year, but some doctors require them more often.

In some patients using estrogens, tenderness, swelling, or bleeding of the gums may occur. Brushing and flossing your teeth carefully and regularly and massaging your gums may help prevent this. See your dentist regularly to have your teeth cleaned. Check with your medical doctor or dentist if you have any questions about how to take care of your teeth and gums, or if you notice any tenderness, swelling, or bleeding of your gums.

Although the incidence is low, the use of estrogens may increase you chance of getting cancer of the breast, ovaries, or uterus (womb). Therefore, it is very important that you regularly check your breasts for any unusual lumps or discharge. Report any problems to your doctor. You should also have a mammogram (x-ray pictures of the breasts) done if your doctor recommends it. Because breast cancer has occurred in men taking estrogens, regular breast self-exams and exams by your doctor for any unusual lumps or discharge should be done.

If your menstrual periods have stopped, they may start again. This effect will continue for as long as the medicine is taken. However, if taking the continuous treatment (0.625 mg conjugated estrogens and 2.5 mg medroxyprogesterone once a day), monthly bleeding usually stops within 10 months.

Also, vaginal bleeding between your regular menstrual periods may occur during the first 3 months of use. Do not stop taking your medicine. Check with your doctor if bleeding continues for an unusually long time, if your period has not started within 45 days of your last period, or if you think you are pregnant.

Tell the doctor in charge that you are using this medicine before having any laboratory test because some results may be affected.

Check with your child's doctor right away if your child starts to have the following symptoms: nipple or breast swelling or tenderness in females, or enlargement of the breasts in males. Your child may have been exposed to Evamist® transdermal spray.

Do not allow your pets to lick or touch the arm where Evamist® transdermal spray was applied. Small pets may be sensitive to this medicine. Call your pet's veterinarian if your pet starts to have the following symptoms: nipple or breast enlargement, swelling of the vulva, or any signs of illness.

Side Effects of This Medicine:

Women rarely have severe side effects from taking estrogens to replace estrogen. Discuss these possible effects with your doctor:

The prolonged use of estrogens has been reported to increase the risk of endometrial cancer (cancer of the lining of the uterus) in women after menopause. This risk seems to increase as the dose and the length of use increase. When estrogens are used in low doses for less than 1 year, there is less risk. The risk is also reduced if a progestin (another female hormone) is added to, or replaces part of, your estrogen dose. If the uterus has been removed by surgery (total hysterectomy), there is no risk of endometrial cancer.

Although the incidence is low, the use of estrogens may increase you chance of getting cancer of the breast. Breast cancer has been reported in men taking estrogens.

Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

The following side effects may be caused by blood clots, which could lead to stroke, heart attack, or death. These side effects occur rarely, and, when they do occur, they occur in men treated for cancer using high doses of estrogens.

Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur:

More common
Breast pain (in females and males)
fast heartbeat
increased breast size (in females and males)
irritation of the skin
itching of the skin
joint pain, stiffness, or swelling
redness of the skin
shortness of breath
swelling of the eyelids, face, lips, hands, or feet
swelling of the feet and lower legs
tightness in the chest
troubled breathing or swallowing
weight gain (rapid)
Less common or rare
Changes in vaginal bleeding (spotting, breakthrough bleeding, prolonged or heavier bleeding, or complete stoppage of bleeding)
chest pain
heavy non-menstrual vaginal bleeding
lumps in, or discharge from, breast (in females and males)
pains in the stomach, side, or abdomen
yellow eyes or skin
(for males being treated for breast or prostate cancer only)
Headache (sudden or severe)
loss of coordination (sudden)
loss of vision or change of vision (sudden)
pains in the chest, groin, or leg, especially in the calf of leg
shortness of breath (sudden and unexplained)
slurring of speech (sudden)
weakness or numbness in the arm or leg
Incidence not known
Abdominal or stomach bloating
abdominal or stomach cramps
acid or sour stomach
blistering, peeling, or loosening of the skin
blue-yellow color blindness
blurred vision
change in vaginal discharge
changes in skin color
changes in vision
chest discomfort
clay-colored stools
clear or bloody discharge from nipple
dark urine
decrease in the amount of urine
decreased vision
difficulty with breathing
difficulty with speaking
dimpling of the breast skin
double vision
dry mouth
eye pain
fluid-filled skin blisters
full feeling in upper abdomen or stomach
full or bloated feeling or pressure in the stomach
inability to move the arms, legs, or facial muscles
inability to speak
incoherent speech
increased urination
inverted nipple
irregular heartbeats
light-colored stools
loss of appetite
loss of bladder control
lump under the arm
metallic taste
migraine headache
mood or mental changes
muscle cramps in the hands, arms, feet, legs, or face
muscle pain
muscle spasm or jerking of all extremities
muscle weakness
noisy breathing
numbness or tingling of the hands, feet, or face
pain in the ankles or knees
pain or discomfort in the arms, jaw, back or neck
pain or feeling of pressure in the pelvis
pain, tenderness, swelling of the foot or leg
painful or tender cysts in the breasts
painful, red lumps under the skin, mostly on the legs
pains in the chest, groin, or legs, especially calves of the legs
partial or complete loss of vision in the eye
pelvic pain
persistent crusting or scaling of nipple
pinpoint red or purple spots on the skin
prominent superficial veins over affected area
red, irritated eyes
redness or swelling of the breast
sensitivity to the sun
severe headaches of sudden onset
skin thinness
skin warmth
slow speech
sore on the skin of the breast that does not heal
sore throat
sores, ulcers, or white spots in the mouth or on the lips
stomach discomfort, upset, or pain
sudden loss of consciousness
sudden loss of coordination
sudden onset of shortness of breath for no apparent reason
sudden onset of slurred speech
sudden vision changes
swelling of the abdominal or stomach area
swelling of the fingers or hands
unpleasant breath odor
unusual tiredness or weakness
vomiting of blood
weight loss

Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:

More common
Abnormal growth filled with fluid or semisolid material
accidental injury
bladder pain
bloated full feeling
bloody or cloudy urine
body aches or pain
coating or white patches on tongue
cough producing mucus
decrease in amount of urine
difficult, burning, or painful urination
dryness of the throat
ear congestion or pain
excess air or gas in the stomach or intestines
feeling of warmth
feeling sad or empty
frequent urge to urinate
general feeling of discomfort or illness
headache, severe and throbbing
increased clear or white vaginal discharge
itching of the vaginal, rectal or genital areas
lack of appetite
lack or loss of strength
loss of interest or pleasure
mild dizziness
neck pain
pain during sexual intercourse
painful or difficult urination
pain or tenderness around the eyes and cheekbones
passing gas
redness of the face, neck, arms, and occasionally, upper chest
runny nose
skin irritation or redness where skin patch was worn
sore mouth or tongue
stuffy nose
sudden sweating
tender, swollen glands in the neck
thick, white vaginal discharge with no odor or with a mild odor
trouble concentrating
trouble sleeping
unable to sleep
voice changes
Less common
Blemishes on the skin
burning, crawling, itching, numbness, prickling, "pins and needles", or tingling feelings
burning or stinging of the skin
diarrhea (mild)
difficulty with moving
dizziness (mild)
increased hair growth, especially on the face
lower abdominal or stomach pain or pressure
mood or mental changes
muscle stiffness
painful cold sores or blisters on the lips, nose, eyes, or genitals
pounding in the ears
problems in wearing contact lenses
slow heartbeat
tooth or gum pain
unusual decrease in sexual desire (in males)
unusual increase in sexual desire (in females)
white or brownish vaginal discharge
Incidence not known
Abnormal turning out of cervix
changes in appetite
dull ache or feeling of pressure or heaviness in the legs
flushed, dry skin
fruit-like breath odor
increased hunger
large amount of triglyceride in the blood
leg cramps
patchy brown or dark brown discoloration of the skin
poor insight and judgment
problems with memory or speech
trouble recognizing objects
trouble thinking and planning
trouble walking
twitching, uncontrolled movements of the tongue, lips, face, arms, or legs
unexpected or excess milk flow from the breasts

Also, many women who are taking estrogens with a progestin (another female hormone) will start having monthly vaginal bleeding, similar to menstrual periods, again. This effect will continue for as long as the medicine is taken. However, monthly bleeding will not occur in women who have had the uterus removed by surgery (total hysterectomy).

This medicine may cause loss or thinning of the scalp hair in some people.

Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Last Updated: 10/12/2016

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