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What Is Norethindrone?
Norethindrone is a form of progesterone, one of the main female sexual hormones. It is available in drug form as Norethindrone acetate, which provides the body with a synthetic form of this hormone.
It is one of the most common birth control medications in the US and is popularly sold under the brand Aygestin. Other generic brand names include Camila, Jolivette, Heather, and Errin.
This drug is ingested through the mouth and helps prevent pregnancy while tackling a variety of other female sexual health problems.
How Does Norethindrone Work?
Norethindrone falls under a class of medication called progestins. Medications like this work by encouraging the uterus to produce specific hormones that prevent the lining from growing.
In this case, Norethindrone increases progesterone production, which can delay periods and prevent ovulation from occurring. Due to elevated progesterone levels, the egg cannot fully develop and therefore will not be fertilized.
What Is Norethindrone Used For?
Norethindrone is largely used as a contraceptive pill to prevent pregnancy.
However, Norethindrone may also be used to treat some of these common issues:
- Menstrual disorders
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding
Some individuals may also use this medication to delay periods, though you should always consult with a doctor before doing this.
What Are The Side Effects Of Norethindrone?
The most common side effects of Norethindrone are:
- Irregular vaginal bleeding/periods
- Stomach pain
- Breast swelling and tenderness
- Mood swings
- Weight gain
- Vaginal itching/discharge
While this list is long, there’s no guarantee you will see any of these side effects. It varies from person to person, and most issues will clear up within a few hours or days. You should only consult a doctor when you experience these common side effects regularly and they do not go away or worsen. Then, you should seek medical attention and guidance.
A few of the more severe side effects of Norethindrone to be aware of include:
- Blood clots
- Missed periods
- Excessive weight gain
- Vision loss
- Unusual vaginal bleeding
- Lumps in the breasts
- Issues with your liver
It’s crucial to seek immediate medical attention the moment you notice any of these side effects. They are rare and can have severe consequences unless treated. Stop taking Norethindrone until you have spoken to a medical professional.
How Do You Take Norethindrone?
As with all birth control prescriptions, your doctor will go through the correct dosages and how to take your medication. It’s also wise to read through the informational sheet that comes with your Norethindrone as it details what not to take or do while using this medication.
This particular drug is taken orally, typically once daily. You can choose any time of day to take this and no food is needed. It’s important to keep taking your Norethindrone at the same time every day to see the best results for birth control.
If you run into any issues with Norethindrone or don’t notice any changes, consult with your doctor right away. You may be taking it wrong or you might need a different dose to see the full effects.
For more detailed information about Norethindrone, you can refer to the following sources:
The content on this page has been medically reviewed for accuracy and comprehensiveness by Amy Dougherty, FNP-BC, AGAC
Content on the DrHouse website is written by our medical content team and reviewed by qualified MDs, PhDs, NPs, and PharmDs. We follow strict content creation guidelines to ensure accurate medical information. However, this content is for informational purposes only and not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. For more information read our medical disclaimer.
Always consult with your physician or other qualified health providers about medical concerns. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it based on what you read on this website.
If you are experiencing high fever (>103F/39.4C), shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chest pain, heart palpitations, abnormal bruising, abnormal bleeding, extreme fatigue, dizziness, new weakness or paralysis, difficulty with speech, confusion, extreme pain in any body part, or inability to remain hydrated or keep down fluids or feel you may have any other life-threatening condition, please go to the emergency department or call 911 immediately.
Frequently asked questions
What Does Norethindrone Do to the Female Body?
Norethindrone can help with a variety of different female sexual health issues through its main effect—the increase in progesterone.
It helps to prevent ovulation from occurring and also stops the uterine lining from growing, which prevents sperm from entering and fertilizing an egg.
What to Avoid While Taking Norethindrone?
When taking Norethindrone, it’s important to avoid any activities that can interfere with its effectiveness or increase the risk of its side effects.
Some of the things you should avoid are:
- Smoking – Smoking can increase the risk of serious cardiovascular side effects like blood clots, stroke, or heart attack
- Alcohol – Excessive alcohol consumption may exacerbate some side effects and could potentially interfere with the medication’s effectiveness.
- Strenuous Activities – Due to the increased risk of blood clots, you might be advised to avoid long periods of immobility or certain strenuous activities.
- Skipping Doses – Make sure to take your Norethindrone at the same time every day to ensure it works effectively.
- Taking Other Medications – Some medications (such as antibiotics, anticonvulsants, and antifungals for example) can react with Norethindrone and increase its side effects, so make sure to discuss any other drugs or supplements you are taking with your doctor before starting on this medication.
The list above is just a quick summary of some of the things you should avoid while taking Norethindrone. Make sure to discuss any other precautions with your healthcare provider before starting your medication.
How Long Does It Take for Norethindrone to Work?
The exact time it takes for norethindrone to become effective will depend on what it is being used for and how consistently it is taken.
If you are using it as a contraceptive, it should be effective immediately if taken within the first five days of your menstrual cycle.
If you start taking it after this five-day period, however, you should use a backup form of contraception for the first 2 days.
What Is the Typical Dosage for Norethindrone?
The dosage will depend on what the medication is being used for. For contraception, a single tablet is taken orally every day for 28 days. For other conditions, a doctor will recommend the appropriate dosage.
It is important to follow the instructions given by your healthcare provider as it can vary from person to person and depending on the condition being treated.
Do You Need a Prescription for Norethindrone?
Yes, you will need a prescription from a licensed healthcare provider in order to obtain Norethindrone.
Who Can Prescribe Norethindrone?
Any licensed healthcare provider can prescribe Norethindrone. This includes doctors, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants.
Can You Get Norethindrone Over-The-Counter (OTC)?
No, you can’t get Norethindrone over-the-counter as it is not available without a valid prescription.
Can I Get Norethindrone Online?
Yes, you can get both a prescription for Norethindrone and purchase the medication itself online.
With DrHouse you can get prescriptions online from a licensed healthcare provider fast and conveniently. Once you get your prescription, you can have it sent to your local pharmacy or have it delivered directly to your door.
How Do I Get an Online Prescription for Norethindrone?
Getting an online prescription for Norethindrone is simple and straightforward with DrHouse. All you need to do is:
- Sign up online and download our telehealth app
- Start an on-demand video consultation with one of our licensed healthcare providers
- Describe your medical condition and answer any questions the provider may have
- Receive a prescription for Norethindrone
All within 20 minutes!