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Norethindrone is used to treat disorders of the uterus (womb) lining such as endometriosis (appearance of inner lining of womb outside the womb), heavy or irregular bleeding, abnormal absence of menses (amenorrhea) and pain during menses (dysmenorrhea). It is also used as contraception to prevent pregnancy and as treatment for breast cancer.

How it works

Norethindrone belongs to a class of drugs called progestins. It works as a contraceptive by suppressing ovulation (the formation of female eggs), increasing the thickening of cervical mucus preventing sperm entry, lowering levels of female hormones and modifying the womb lining. It helps relieve womb lining disorders by preventing the lining of the uterus from growing.

Common side effects

Vomiting, Nausea, Liver enzyme increased, Abdominal pain, Abnormal hair growth on a women face and body, Acne, Anxiety, Breast discomfort, Cataract, Decreased libido, Dizziness, Edema, Unusual production of breast milk in women and men, Increased glucose level in blood, Increased blood pressure, Irregular menstrual cycle, Jaundice, Mood changes, Uterine myomata, Vaginal infection, Weight loss


Expert advice

  • Make sure you take the tablet every day at the same time.
  • In case of missed dose, take the dose as soon as you remember. Do not take two doses at one time.
  • Inform your doctor, that you are on norethindrone, if you have any planned surgery including dental surgery.
  • Inform your doctor, if you underwent any recent surgery, or if you have a history of breast cancer, unexplained bleeding from vagina, abortion, blood clots in lungs, or brain, or legs, heart disease, fits, headaches, depression, asthma, high cholesterol, diabetes, kidney or liver disease. Seek immediate medical attention if you experience skin rash, sudden or severe pain in the stomach or abdomen, unexpected or increased flow of blood.
  • Avoid smoking as it may worsen the side effects.Inform your doctor if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Do not take if allergic to norethindrone, any other progestins, oral contraceptives or any of its ingredients.
  • Do not take if pregnant or are planning to be pregnant.
  • Do not take if suffering with benign or malignant liver cancer or poor liver conditions, breast cancer, undiagnosed abnormal vaginal bleeding.
  • Do not take if  under treatment of epilepsy and tuberculosis.
  • Do not take if have history of or suffering from severe heart conditions such as myocardial infarction or stroke.

Frequently asked questions


Q. Is norethindrone safe and is norethindrone called as mini pill?
Noretindrone is safe to use when prescribed as per doctor’s advice. Yes, it is also known as minipill.

Q. Is norethindrone androgenic?
Norethindrone is known to cause body, scalp or facial hair growth. Inform your doctor, if you experience the same.

Q. Is norethindrone a progesterone?
Norethindrone belongs to a class of drugs called progestins, which are artificially prepared steroid hormones that have the same effect as natural female hormone, progesterone.

Content on this page was last updated on 30 September, 2016, by Dr. Varun Gupta (MD Pharmacology)