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Side effects of hormone therapies for dysfunctional uterine bleeding

Hormone therapy for dysfunctional uterine bleeding is used to balance progesterone and estrogen levels, reducing irregular menstrual bleeding. Most women gain some relief from irregular menstrual bleeding while using hormone therapy. Side effects are common but often mild.

Progestin side effects

Common side effects of high-dose progestins include:

High-dose progestin pills used to treat uterine bleeding are not the same progestin pills used for birth control. If you wish to prevent pregnancy, use a dependable form of birth control. A levonorgestrel intrauterine device (IUD) or a combination estrogen-progestin birth control pill is a better choice for preventing pregnancy.1

Levonorgestrel (LNg) IUD side effects

The levonorgestrel IUD is less likely to cause troublesome side effects than high-dose progestin.

Common levonorgestrel-related side effects include bloating, weight gain, and breast tenderness.

Other possible side effects include:2

  • Absence of menstrual periods (amenorrhea).
  • A change in your menstrual period.
  • A temporary increase in menstrual bleeding (including the number of menstrual days and bleeding between periods). This side effect usually subsides after the first few months of use.

Birth control pills

Side effects of estrogen-progestin birth control pills are generally mild. When they occur, they are usually the most severe during the first few months of use and then, in most cases, gradually disappear. The most common side effects are:

  • Breast tenderness.
  • Nausea.
  • Weight gain, which is thought to be uncommon.

Rare, but more serious, side effects are:

Smoking increases your risk of developing serious side effects.


  1. Speroff L, Fritz MA (2005). Dysfunctional uterine bleeding. In L Speroff, MA Fritz, eds., Clinical Gynecologic Endocrinology and Infertility, 7th ed., pp. 548-571. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

  2. Duckitt K, Collins S (2006). Menorrhagia, search date September 2006. Online version of BMJ Clinical Evidence. Also available online:

Author Kathe Gallagher, MSW
Author Debby Golonka, MPH
Editor Susan Van Houten, RN, BSN, MBA
Associate Editor Pat Truman, MATC
Associate Editor Terrina Vail
Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Liisa Honey, MD, FRCSC - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Last Updated February 12, 2008

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: February 12, 2008
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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