What Is Norethisterone?

What Is Norethisterone?

Norethisterone is a medicine which contains progestogen, a man-made hormone similar to progesterone, which is a female sex hormone naturally produced by the body. It is used in the treatment of various conditions in women, including menstrual cycle disorders and breast cancer.

Other uses of Norethisterone include blood clotting, contraception, endometriosis and premenstrual syndrome. The drug has the effect of delaying menstruation and so is a common treatment for heavy menstrual periods. The effect depends on the dosage. In low concentrations it is used as a contraceptive or as hormone replacement therapy in pre- or post-menopausal women.

At medium strength, tablets under the brand names Primolut N or Utovlan are used in the treatment of heavy periods, or menorraghia. It is not typically the first treatment of choice in this case, but may be chosen to limit loss of blood if other treatments have not worked. At its highest strength, it is used in the treatment of some breast cancers.

Common side effects include:

  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Breast tenderness and swelling

Norethisterone is not available in the United States on its own as a prescription, but is available in specific formulations in some contraceptives, for example the brands Briellyn or Brevicon 28-day, which are formulated with norethisterone and ethinylestradiol.