Estrogen Therapy for Dysfunctional Uterine Bleeding
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Some estrogens used to treat dysfunctional uterine bleeding are taken as pills. And some can be given through a vein (intravenous).
How It Works
High levels of estrogen trigger the rapid growth of the uterine lining ( endometrium ). This stops sudden, heavy bleeding from the uterine surface.
Why It Is Used
High-dose estrogen is used to reduce sudden, heavy uterine bleeding. Usually, 24 hours of intravenous (IV) or oral (pills or tablets) estrogen therapy is followed with 7 to 10 days of oral estrogen plus progestin .
During perimenopause , when the body makes less estrogen, some women take estrogen along with progestin to regulate the menstrual cycle and reducedysfunctional uterine bleeding . For more information, see Birth Control Pills, Patch, or Ring.
How Well It Works
Estrogen therapy effectively controls sudden, heavy uterine bleeding that is not caused by disease, pregnancy complication, cancer, or another serious medical condition (dysfunctional uterine bleeding). 1
Recurrence. Dysfunctional uterine bleeding may return when treatment with estrogen and progestin is stopped.
All medicines have side effects. But many people don’t feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.
Here are some important things to think about:
- Usually the benefits of the medicine are more important than any minor side effects.
- Side effects may go away after you take the medicine for a while.
- If side effects still bother you and you wonder if you should keep taking the medicine, call your doctor. He or she may be able to lower your dose or change your medicine. Do not suddenly quit taking your medicine unless your doctor tells you to.
Call 911 or other emergency services right away if you have:
- Trouble breathing.
- Swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Call your doctor if you have:
- Pain in your chest or legs.
Common side effects of this medicine include:
- Swollen or painful breasts.
- Fast heartbeat.
- Weight gain.
- Fluid retention.
- Redness or irritation of skin.
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)
What To Think About
Estrogen therapy is typically not recommended if you have:
- Uncontrolled high blood pressure .
- Liver disease.
- History of blood clots in a vein (deep vein thrombosis) or lung (pulmonary embolism).
- History of stroke .
- History of breast cancer or uterine cancer.
- Smoked and are over 35 years old.
Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don’t take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.
There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.
Advice for women
If you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant, do not use any medicines unless your doctor tells you to. Some medicines can harm your baby. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements. And make sure that all your doctors know that you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It’s also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
- Fritz MA, Speroff L (2011). Abnormal uterine bleeding. In Clinical Gynecologic Endocrinology and Infertility, 8th ed., pp. 591–620. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
Last Revised: June 1, 2012
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: Sarah Marshall, MD – Family Medicine & Andrew Swan, MD, CCFP, FCFP – Family Medicine & Kirtly Jones, MD – Obstetrics and Gynecology