Norethindrone acetate


This medication is used to treat abnormal uterine bleeding due to hormonal imbalance.

It helps to bring on normal menstrual periods in women who have experienced an absence of periods in a row (amenorrhea) but are not pregnant or not going through menopause.

In addition, this medication is used to treat endometriosis, a condition in which tissues present in the lining of the uterus grow out of the uterus in the pelvic area and abdomen area which may cause irregular or painful menstruation.

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IUPAC name: 17-(Acetyloxy)-19-nor pregn-4-en-20-yn-3-one

Drug class: Progestins

Brand name: Aygestin

Route of administration: Oral (tablet form)

Is it a drug that needs a prescription? YES

Is it an Over Counter Drug? NO

Mechanism of action

Norethindrone acetate acts similar to the female hormone, progestin and is the synthetic form of progesterone (a hormone naturally produced after ovulation). It works by stopping the proliferation and breakdown of the endometrium that forms the inner lining of the uterus during the menstrual periods. Thus, it is used to prevent menstrual bleeding.

Side Effects

Common side effects that may be caused by this medication are as follows: vomiting, nausea, acne, stomach upset, difficulty in sleeping, breast tenderness or swelling, weight gain or loss, growth of hair on the face.

Sometimes, serious side effects may occur that include: skin rash/ itching/ hives, alteration in the vaginal bleeding or spotting, changes in vaginal discharge, dizziness, mood swings, skin/eyes swelling, depression, swelling of arms/ feet/ ankle/ hands, severe abdominal pain.


Signs & symptoms of overdose may include severe vomiting, nausea, and trouble breathing.


Following precautions should be taken before using this medication:

  1. If you are allergic to this medication, any other medications, or if you have any other kind of allergies.  
  2. If you have or ever had a medical history of breast cancer, blood clots in your brain, lungs, or legs, liver disease, bleeding in the brain, vaginal bleeding, loss of pregnancy, strokes or heart attack, migraine, high blood pressure (hypertension), seizures, depression, kidney problems, obesity, asthma, diabetes.
  3. Limit alcoholic consumption as it makes you dizzier and loss of alertness may occur.
  4. Do not smoke as it will increase the risk of blood clots, high blood pressure, stroke/ heart attacks.
  5. If you are taking any other medication (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products).
  6. It may cause melasma, hence avoid going out in the sunlight as it may worsen the effect.
  7. This medication should not be used to test for pregnancy.

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