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Norethindrone and Levonorgestrel

Side Effects of Norethindrone and Levonorgestrel

Common side effects of norethindrone can include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stomach cramping or bloating
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Tiredness
  • Breast tenderness
  • Decreased breast size
  • Acne
  • An oily scalp
  • Hair loss
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Vaginal infections
  • Change in sexual desire
  • Change in menstrual flow

More serious but less common side effects of norethindrone include:

  • Depression
  • Unwanted facial or body hair
  • Swelling of the ankles or feet

If you experience any of these side effects, please contact your health care provider immediately. In very rare cases, women taking norethindrone experience serious (even fatal) problems related to blood clots; women taking this medication should seek immediate medical help if they have experience a sudden shortness of breath; chest, jaw or left arm pain; confusion; coughing up blood; sudden dizziness or fainting; pain, swelling or warmth in the groin or calf; tingling, weakness or tiredness in the arms or legs; unusual headaches (e.g., headaches accompanied by vision changes or lack of coordination; slurred speech; weakness on one side of the body; vision problems or changes; stomach, abdominal or pelvic pain; breast lumps; dark urine; yellowing skin or eyes; or unusual tiredness.

Severe side effects from levonorgestrel when used as emergency contraception are uncommon. However, some side effects that may not require medical attention include:

  • Abdominal pain or cramping
  • Breast tenderness
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Spotting

Common side effects of the levonorgestrel oral contraceptive can include:

  • Upset stomach; feeling or being sick
  • Irregular vaginal bleeding or spotting
  • Changes in menstruation timing, or not having a period
  • Breast tenderness
  • Headache or migraine
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Loss of interest in sex
  • Weight changes
  • Liver problems
  • Allergic reactions

There are also more serious but less common side effects of the levonorgestrel oral contraception. If you have any of these, discontinue use of the contraceptive (use another method of pregnancy prevention, such as a condom) and call your doctor:

  • Upper abdominal pain
  • Yellowing of the skin or eyes
  • Itching
  • Signs of pregnancy
  • Unusual migraines
  • Unusually bad or more frequent headaches
  • Sudden changes in the senses of eyesight, hearing, speech, smell, taste or touch
  • Symptoms of a blood clot (e.g., unusual leg pain or swelling of the arms or legs, sharp chest pain, sudden shortness of breath, crushing pain or heaviness in the chest, unusual coughing, dizziness or becoming weak on one side of the body)
  • Increased blood pressure

The levonorgestrel IUD may also have side effects. Minor but common side effects that generally do not require medical attention include:

  • Acne
  • Breast pain
  • Changes in sex drive or performance
  • Weight changes
  • Cramping, dizziness or faintness while the device is being inserted
  • Headaches
  • Irregular menstrual bleeding in the first three to six months of use
  • Nausea

More serious side effects that do require medical attention can include:

  • Allergic reactions such as skin rash, itching, hives, or swelling of the face, lips or tongue
  • Fever or flu-like symptoms
  • Genital sores
  • High blood pressure
  • No menstrual period for six weeks during use
  • Pain, swelling or warmth in the leg
  • Pelvic pain or tenderness
  • Severe or sudden headache
  • Signs of pregnancy
  • Stomach cramping
  • Sudden shortness of breath
  • Difficulty with talking, walking or balance
  • Unusual vaginal bleeding or discharge
  • Yellowing of the skin or eyes

Locations for Norethindrone and Levonorgestrel