Side Effects

Drug information provided by: Merative, Micromedex®

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

  1. Breast pain (in females and males)
  2. fast heartbeat
  3. fever
  4. hives
  5. hoarseness
  6. increased breast size (in females and males)
  7. irritation of the skin
  8. itching of the skin
  9. joint pain, stiffness, or swelling
  10. rash
  11. redness of the skin
  12. shortness of breath
  13. swelling of the eyelids, face, lips, hands, or feet
  14. swelling of the feet and lower legs
  15. tightness in the chest
  16. troubled breathing or swallowing
  17. weight gain (rapid)
  18. wheezing

Less common or rare

  1. Changes in vaginal bleeding (spotting, breakthrough bleeding, prolonged or heavier bleeding, or complete stoppage of bleeding)
  2. chest pain
  3. chills
  4. cough
  5. heavy non-menstrual vaginal bleeding
  6. lumps in, or discharge from, breast (in females and males)
  7. pains in the stomach, side, or abdomen
  8. yellow eyes or skin


  1. Headache (sudden or severe)
  2. loss of coordination (sudden)
  3. loss of vision or change of vision (sudden)
  4. pains in the chest, groin, or leg, especially in the calf of leg
  5. shortness of breath (sudden and unexplained)
  6. slurring of speech (sudden)
  7. weakness or numbness in the arm or leg

Incidence not known

  1. Abdominal or stomach bloating
  2. abdominal or stomach cramps
  3. acid or sour stomach
  4. anxiety
  5. backache
  6. belching
  7. blindness
  8. blistering, peeling, or loosening of the skin
  9. blue-yellow color blindness
  10. blurred vision
  11. change in vaginal discharge
  12. changes in skin color
  13. changes in vision
  14. chest discomfort
  15. clay-colored stools
  16. clear or bloody discharge from nipple
  17. confusion
  18. constipation
  19. convulsions
  20. dark urine
  21. decrease in the amount of urine
  22. decreased vision
  23. depression
  24. diarrhea
  25. difficulty with breathing
  26. difficulty with speaking
  27. dimpling of the breast skin
  28. dizziness
  29. double vision
  30. dry mouth
  31. eye pain
  32. fainting
  33. fluid-filled skin blisters
  34. full feeling in upper abdomen or stomach
  35. full or bloated feeling or pressure in the stomach
  36. headache
  37. heartburn
  38. inability to move the arms, legs, or facial muscles
  39. inability to speak
  40. incoherent speech
  41. increased urination
  42. indigestion
  43. inverted nipple
  44. irregular heartbeats
  45. light-colored stools
  46. lightheadedness
  47. loss of appetite
  48. loss of bladder control
  49. lump under the arm
  50. metallic taste
  51. migraine headache
  52. mood or mental changes
  53. muscle cramps in the hands, arms, feet, legs, or face
  54. muscle pain
  55. muscle spasm or jerking of all extremities
  56. muscle weakness
  57. nausea
  58. noisy breathing
  59. numbness or tingling of the hands, feet, or face
  60. pain in the ankles or knees
  61. pain or discomfort in the arms, jaw, back or neck
  62. pain or feeling of pressure in the pelvis
  63. pain, tenderness, swelling of the foot or leg
  64. painful or tender cysts in the breasts
  65. painful, red lumps under the skin, mostly on the legs
  66. pains in the chest, groin, or legs, especially calves of the legs
  67. partial or complete loss of vision in the eye
  68. pelvic pain
  69. persistent crusting or scaling of nipple
  70. pinpoint red or purple spots on the skin
  71. prominent superficial veins over affected area
  72. red, irritated eyes
  73. redness or swelling of the breast
  74. sensitivity to the sun
  75. severe headaches of sudden onset
  76. skin thinness
  77. skin warmth
  78. slow speech
  79. sore on the skin of the breast that does not heal
  80. sore throat
  81. sores, ulcers, or white spots in the mouth or on the lips
  82. stomach discomfort, upset, or pain
  83. sudden loss of consciousness
  84. sudden loss of coordination
  85. sudden onset of shortness of breath for no apparent reason
  86. sudden onset of slurred speech
  87. sudden vision changes
  88. swelling of the abdominal or stomach area
  89. swelling of the fingers or hands
  90. thirst
  91. tremor
  92. unpleasant breath odor
  93. unusual tiredness or weakness
  94. vomiting
  95. vomiting of blood
  96. 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

  1. Abnormal growth filled with fluid or semisolid material
  2. accidental injury
  3. bladder pain
  4. bloated full feeling
  5. bloody or cloudy urine
  6. body aches or pain
  7. coating or white patches on tongue
  8. congestion
  9. cough producing mucus
  10. decrease in amount of urine
  11. difficult, burning, or painful urination
  12. discouragement
  13. dryness of the throat
  14. ear congestion or pain
  15. excess air or gas in the stomach or intestines
  16. fear
  17. feeling of warmth
  18. feeling sad or empty
  19. frequent urge to urinate
  20. general feeling of discomfort or illness
  21. headache, severe and throbbing
  22. increased clear or white vaginal discharge
  23. irritability
  24. itching of the vaginal, rectal or genital areas
  25. lack of appetite
  26. lack or loss of strength
  27. loss of interest or pleasure
  28. mild dizziness
  29. neck pain
  30. nervousness
  31. pain
  32. pain during sexual intercourse
  33. painful or difficult urination
  34. pain or tenderness around the eyes and cheekbones
  35. passing gas
  36. redness of the face, neck, arms, and occasionally, upper chest
  37. runny nose
  38. skin irritation or redness where skin patch was worn
  39. shivering
  40. sleeplessness
  41. sneezing
  42. sore mouth or tongue
  43. stuffy nose
  44. sudden sweating
  45. tender, swollen glands in the neck
  46. thick, white vaginal discharge with no odor or with a mild odor
  47. tiredness
  48. trouble concentrating
  49. trouble sleeping
  50. unable to sleep
  51. voice changes

Less common

  1. Blemishes on the skin
  2. burning, crawling, itching, numbness, prickling, "pins and needles", or tingling feelings
  3. burning or stinging of the skin
  4. diarrhea (mild)
  5. difficulty with moving
  6. dizziness (mild)
  7. increased hair growth, especially on the face
  8. lower abdominal or stomach pain or pressure
  9. mood or mental changes
  10. muscle stiffness
  11. painful cold sores or blisters on the lips, nose, eyes, or genitals
  12. pimples
  13. pounding in the ears
  14. problems in wearing contact lenses
  15. slow heartbeat
  16. tooth or gum pain
  17. unusual decrease in sexual desire (in males)
  18. unusual increase in sexual desire (in females)
  19. white or brownish vaginal discharge

Incidence not known

  1. Abnormal turning out of cervix
  2. changes in appetite
  3. dull ache or feeling of pressure or heaviness in the legs
  4. flushed, dry skin
  5. fruit-like breath odor
  6. increased hunger
  7. irritability
  8. large amount of triglyceride in the blood
  9. leg cramps
  10. patchy brown or dark brown discoloration of the skin
  11. poor insight and judgment
  12. problems with memory or speech
  13. trouble recognizing objects
  14. trouble thinking and planning
  15. trouble walking
  16. twitching, uncontrolled movements of the tongue, lips, face, arms, or legs
  17. 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.