Estradiol Side Effects

by on March 13, 2012


Patients who are considering taking estradiol for the treatment of symptoms related to menopause should be aware of the wide range of side effects that are associated with the use of this drug. Common estradiol side effects include headache, stomach pain, mild nausea and breast pain or tenderness. These estradiol side effects often go away entirely or become less bothersome as the body adjusts to treatment. Patients should also be mindful of serious, but uncommon, side effects.

Common Estradiol Side Effects

The following estradiol side effects are common and do not usually require medical attention. Most estradiol users experience mild side effects that abate with continued treatment as the body adjusts to the medication regimen. You may not experience all, or even any, of these side effects, depending on your tolerance to the drug.

  • Breast pain or tenderness
  • Hair loss
  • Headache
  • Mild nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach cramps
  • Bloating
  • Weight changes
  • Abnormal hair growth
  • Changes in sex drive
  • Lightheadedness
  • Cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Joint pain
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Spotting or breakthrough bleeding

Consult your doctor if these common side effects become bothersome or severe. Your doctor may suggest lifestyle, diet or medication changes to help minimize your discomfort.

Serious Estradiol Side Effects

Estradiol Side Effects Some individuals may experience a severe allergic reaction to estradiol. Consult your doctor immediately if you experience estradiol side effects associated with an allergy to the drug. These side effects include:

  • Rash
  • Hives
  • Itching
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Swelling of the mouth, face, lips or tongue

Other serious side effects that require immediate medical attention include:

  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding
  • Breast lumps
  • Calf pain or tenderness
  • Changes in speech or vision
  • Confusion
  • Chest pain
  • Coughing up blood
  • Mental or mood changes, such as depression or memory loss
  • Numbness in the arms or legs
  • Weakness on one side of the body
  • Stomach pain, swelling or tenderness
  • Severe headache
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Vomiting
  • Sudden shortness of breath
  • Unusual vaginal discharge, itching or odor
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
  • Swelling of the hands and feet
  • Discharge from the nipples
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Dark urine
  • Painful or difficult urination
  • Fever
  • Muscle pain
  • Sunburn-like rash
  • Increased thirst

Estradiol and Other Conditions

Estradiol is not suitable for all patients. Discussing your medical history will your doctor will help him or her determine if estradiol is the right treatment for you. Make sure to tell your doctor about any of the following medical conditions:

  • Heart disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Migraines
  • Asthma
  • Endometriosis
  • Porphyria
  • Lupus
  • Underactive thyroid
  • Epilepsy
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding
  • Recent history of heart attack or stroke
  • History of blood clots
  • History of jaundice caused by pregnancy or hormones

Your doctor will assess your medical history and various other factors before prescribing estradiol medications for the treatment of menopause symptoms, breast cancer or advanced prostate cancer. If your doctor finds that you are not a suitable candidate for estradiol treatment, he or she will suggest an alternative medication.

Estradiol and Cancer

Although estradiol can be used in treatment plans for certain types of cancer, long-term use of estradiol medications may result in an increased risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer or uterine cancer. Your doctor may order regular physical examinations, mammograms or blood tests to monitor you for these and other serious estradiol side effects. In many cases, doctors will prescribe progestin to reduce a woman’s risk of developing uterine cancer while taking estradiol medications.

Despite a veritable laundry list of possible side effects, estradiol medications are generally well tolerated by most patients. Many of the most common side effects associated with estradiol go away on their own, without the need for medical attention. However, certain individuals may be at an increased risk for some of the more serious estradiol side effects. Talking with your doctor will help you evaluate the pros and cons of estradiol to decide if it is the right drug for the treatment of your menopausal symptoms or cancer.