By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD
The use of estradiol in medications such as the contraceptive pill or hormone replacement therapy is associated with several adverse effects and some of these are described below:
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding
- Painful periods or dysmenorrhea
- Fibroid enlargement
- Vaginal infections such as candidiasis
- Changes in the amount of vaginal secretion
- Cervical ectropion or cervical erosion/abrasion
- Galactorrhea or the spontaneous flow of milk from the nipple when a woman is not nursing
- Nipple discharge
In cases of prolonged use, the risk of the following side effects is also raised:
- Ovarian cancer, endometrial cancer, breast cancer
- Endometrial hyperplasia or thickening of the womb lining
- Chest pain
- Deep vein thrombosis
- Pulmonary embolism
- Heart attack or myocardial infarction
- High blood pressure or hypertension
Skin related side effects include skin pigmentation, chloasma and melasma. Other skin effects include loss of scalp hair, erythema multiforme, erythema nodosum, hirsuitism (growth of body hair), itching and rash.
When taken orally, the gastrointestinal side effects may include nausea, vomiting, bloating, diarrhea, water retention, jaundice, gall stones, gastritis, dyspepsia, pancreatitis, liver enlargement and liver tumors. Weight gain may also be noted in some women.
Estradiol medication can cause depression, mood swings, irritability, anger, dizziness and headaches. Epileptic patients may also experience worsening of seizures.
Reviewed by Sally Robertson, BSc
Last Updated: Jul 30, 2014