GENERIC NAME: ESTROGEN/PROGESTIN - ORAL (ES-tra-DYE-ol/nor-JEST-tih-mate)
BRAND NAME(S): Activella, Femhrt, Ortho-Prefest, Premphase, Prempro
WARNING: Estrogens, either used alone or with a progestin, have rarely caused very serious side effects. Discuss the risks and benefits of hormone treatment with your doctor. Estrogens and progestins should not be used to prevent heart disease or dementia.
In postmenopausal women, estrogen when used with a progestin can increase the risk of heart disease (such as heart attacks), stroke, serious blood clots in the lungs/legs, dementia, and cancer of the breast/ovaries.
The risk for serious side effects may depend on the dose of estrogen and the length of time it is used. Therefore, this medication should be used at the lowest effective dose and for the shortest amount of time. Discuss the use of this medication with your doctor regularly (for example, every 3 to 6 months) to see if you still need to use it. If you will be using this medication long-term, you should have regular complete physical exams (for example, once a year) as directed by your doctor. See also Notes section.
USES: This medication contains 2 female hormones: an estrogen (such as conjugated estrogen, estradiol) and a progestin (such as medroxyprogesterone, norethindrone, norgestimate). It is used by women to help reduce symptoms of menopause (such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness). These symptoms are caused by the body making less estrogen. The progestin in this medication helps to reduce the risk of cancer of the uterus which can be caused by using estrogen. Women who have had their uterus removed do not need the progestin and therefore should not use this combination medication.If you are using this medication to treat symptoms only in and around the vagina, products applied directly inside the vagina should be considered before medications that are taken by mouth, absorbed through the skin, or injected.This medication may also be used by women after menopause to prevent bone loss (osteoporosis). However, there are other medications (such as raloxifene, bisphosphonates including alendronate) that are also effective in preventing bone loss and may be safer. These medications should be considered for use before estrogen/progestin treatment.
HOW TO USE: Read the Patient Information Leaflet if available from your pharmacist before you start using this medication and each time you get a refill. If you have any questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist.Take this medication by mouth with or without food as directed by your doctor, usually once daily. You may take it with food or right after a meal to prevent stomach upset.The dosage is based on your medical condition and response to treatment.Take this medication regularly to get the most benefit from it. To help you remember, take it at the same time each day. Follow your dosing schedule carefully. Do not increase your dose or take this medication more often or for a longer time than directed.Tell your doctor if your condition does not improve or if it worsens.
SIDE EFFECTS: See also Warning section.Stomach upset, nausea/vomiting, bloating, breast tenderness, headache, or weight changes may occur. If any of these effects persist or worsen, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly.Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.Tell your doctor right away if you have any serious side effects, including: mental/mood changes (such as depression, memory loss), breast lumps, unusual vaginal bleeding (such as spotting, breakthrough bleeding, prolonged/recurrent bleeding), increased or new vaginal irritation/itching/odor/discharge, severe stomach/abdominal pain, persistent nausea/vomiting, yellowing eyes/skin, dark urine, swelling hands/ankles/feet, increased thirst/urination.This medication may rarely cause serious problems from blood clots (such as heart attacks, strokes, deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism). Get medical help right away if you have any serious side effects, including: chest/jaw/left arm pain, unusual sweating, sudden/severe headache, weakness on one side of the body, confusion, slurred speech, sudden vision changes (such as partial/complete blindness), pain/redness/swelling of legs, tingling/weakness/numbness in the arms/legs, trouble breathing, coughing up blood, sudden dizziness/fainting.A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, get medical help right away if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.In the US -Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.In Canada - Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to Health Canada at 1-866-234-2345.
PRECAUTIONS: Before taking this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of: vaginal bleeding of unknown cause, certain cancers (such as breast cancer, cancer of the uterus/ovaries), blood clots, stroke, heart disease (such as heart attack), liver disease, kidney disease, family medical history (especially breast lumps, cancer, blood clots, angioedema), blood clotting disorders (such as protein C or protein S deficiency), high blood pressure, diabetes, high blood cholesterol/triglyceride levels, obesity, lupus, underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism), mineral imbalance (low or high level of calcium in the blood), a certain hormone problem (hypoparathyroidism), uterus problems (such as fibroids, endometriosis), gallbladder disease, asthma, seizures, migraine headaches, a certain blood disorder (porphyria), mental/mood disorders (such as dementia, depression).Do not smoke or use tobacco. Estrogens combined with smoking further increases your risk of stroke, blood clots, high blood pressure, and heart attack, especially in women older than 35.Tell your doctor if you just had or will be having surgery, or if you will be confined to a chair or bed for a long time (such as a long plane flight). These conditions increase your risk of getting blood clots, especially if you are using an estrogen product. You may need to stop this medication for a time or take special precautions.This drug may cause blotchy, dark areas of the skin on the face (melasma). Sunlight may worsen this effect. Avoid prolonged sun exposure, tanning booths, and sunlamps. Use a sunscreen and wear protective clothing when outdoors.If you are nearsighted or wear contact lenses, you may develop vision problems or trouble wearing your contact lenses. Contact your eye doctor if these problems occur.This medication must not be used during pregnancy. If you become pregnant or think you may be pregnant, tell your doctor immediately.This medication passes into breast milk. It may reduce the quality and amount of breast milk produced. Consult your doctor before breast-feeding.
DRUG INTERACTIONS: Drug interactions may change how your medications work or increase your risk for serious side effects. This document does not contain all possible drug interactions. Keep a list of all the products you use (including prescription/nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicines without your doctor's approval.Some products that may interact with this drug include: aromatase inhibitors (such as anastrozole, exemestane, letrozole), fulvestrant, ospemifene, raloxifene, tamoxifen, toremifene.This medication may interfere with certain laboratory tests (including metyrapone test), possibly causing false test results. Make sure laboratory personnel and all your doctors know you use this drug.
OVERDOSE: If overdose is suspected, contact a poison control center or emergency room immediately. US residents can call their local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. Canada residents can call a provincial poison control center. Symptoms of overdose may include: severe nausea/vomiting, unusual vaginal bleeding.
NOTES: Do not share this medication with others.Keep all regular medical and laboratory appointments. You should have regular complete physical exams (for example, once a year) which include laboratory and medical tests (such as blood pressure, breast exam/mammogram, pelvic exam, pap smear) to monitor your progress and check for side effects. Follow your doctor's instructions for examining your own breasts, and report any lumps right away. Consult your doctor for more details.Preventing or controlling high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes can help to reduce your chances of heart disease and stroke. Lifestyle changes that can help to control or prevent these diseases include reducing stress, eating a low fat/salt diet, losing weight if overweight, exercising regularly, and stopping smoking. Keep your mind active with mental exercises (such as reading, solving crossword puzzles) to help prevent dementia. Talk to your doctor about lifestyle changes that might benefit you.Lifestyle changes that may help reduce hot flashes include stopping smoking, dressing lightly or in layers, avoiding/limiting certain foods (spicy foods, caffeine, alcohol), reducing stress, and exercising regularly.Lifestyle changes that help promote healthy bones include increasing weight-bearing exercise, stopping smoking, limiting alcohol, and eating well-balanced meals that contain adequate calcium and vitamin D. Since you may also need to take calcium and vitamin D supplements and make lifestyle changes, consult your doctor for specific advice.
MISSED DOSE: If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it is near the time of the next dose, skip the missed dose and resume your usual dosing schedule. Do not double the dose to catch up.
STORAGE: Store at room temperature away from light and moisture. Do not store in the bathroom. Keep all medications away from children and pets.Do not flush medications down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. Properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist or local waste disposal company.
Information last revised May 2013. Copyright(c) 2013 First Databank, Inc.
Multimedia: Slideshows, Images & Quizzes
Menopause & Perimenopause: Symptoms, Signs
What is menopause? What are the signs of menopause? What age does menopause start? Learn about menopause and perimenopause...
Menopause Quiz: Symptoms & Signs
The Menopause Quiz challenges your knowledge about the time in a woman’s life when menstruation ceases. Menopause can bring many...
What Is Osteoporosis? Treatment, Symptoms, Medication
Osteoporosis is a disease characterized by low bone mass and density. Osteoporosis causes symptoms of weak, thin, fragile bones....
Women’s Health: 13 Hormone Imbalance Symptoms and Signs
Hormone imbalance involves changes in estrogen, progesterone, and other hormone levels. Hormonal imbalance may cause symptoms...
Related Disease Conditions
A dry socket is a potential complication that can occur when a blood clot in the gums becomes dislodged after a tooth extraction....
Menopause is the time in a woman's life when menstrual periods permanently stop, also called the "change of life." Menopause...
Migraine headache is a type of headache associated with a sensitivity to light, smells, or sounds, eye pain, severe pounding on...
Breast cancer is an invasive tumor that develops in the mammary gland. Breast cancer is detected via mammograms, breast...
Learn about osteoporosis, a condition characterized by the loss of bone density, which leads to an increased risk of bone...
Perimenopause (Symptoms, Signs, Remedies, and Treatments)
Perimenopause is the time in a woman's life when she is approaching menopause. During this time a woman starts to develop...
Vaginal dryness and vaginal atrophy occurs in women during perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause. With vaginal atrophy, the...
Natural Remedies for Hot Flashes
Hot flashes are experienced by many women, especially at night. However, not all women undergoing menopause experience hot...
Sexual health information including birth control, impotence, herpes, sexually transmitted diseases, staying healthy, women's...
Treatment & Diagnosis
Medications & Supplements
Prevention & Wellness
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.