Nortrel Warnings and Precautions

Specific Precautions and Warnings for Nortrel

Some of the warnings and precautions to be aware of prior to using Nortrel include the following:
  • Combined oral contraceptives (including Nortrel) increase the risk of life-threatening problems, such as heart attacks, strokes, and blood clots. This risk is minimal for healthy, young, nonsmoking women. Make sure to tell your healthcare provider if you have ever had a blood clot, stroke, heart attack, or chest pain. Smoking cigarettes greatly increases the risk of these serious Nortrel side effects. This risk is particularly high for smokers over the age of 35.
  • Nortrel can interact with a number of different medications (see Nortrel Drug Interactions for more information). Many of these interactions are severe enough to increase the risk of unintentional pregnancy.
  • When you take Nortrel correctly, your risk of pregnancy is quite low. However, if you take Nortrel incorrectly, your risk of pregnancy significantly increases. Make sure you understand exactly how to take Nortrel (including how and when to start it and what to do if you miss any pills).
  • Nortrel does not protect against HIV, AIDS, or other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). In many cases, it is advisable to use condoms in addition to Nortrel.
  • Combined oral contraceptives may slightly increase the risk of breast cancer or cervical cancer, although this is an unresolved and controversial issue. However, combined oral contraceptives seem to help protect women against ovarian and uterine cancer.
  • Oral contraceptives increase the risk of benign (non-cancerous) liver tumors. Very rarely, these tumors can rupture and cause serious problems.
  • Hormonal contraceptives (such as Nortrel) can make gallbladder disease worse. If you have had a problem with your gallbladder, Nortrel may not be the best contraceptive method for you.
  • Nortrel may increase blood sugar levels, particularly in women with diabetes. Your healthcare provider may need to monitor you more closely. Let your healthcare provider know if you have any sudden vision changes, as this may be a sign of a blood clot in the eyes (a possible side effect of Nortrel and other hormonal contraceptives).
  • Hormonal contraceptives (including Nortrel) can increase your blood pressure. This can be a problem if you already have high blood pressure.
  • Nortrel can change your menstrual bleeding patterns. Some women have breakthrough bleeding (bleeding between periods), while others may not have a period at all. It is normal to have shorter and lighter periods while using Nortrel. If you notice any unusual changes in your bleeding patterns, let your healthcare provider know. If you miss a period, you should make sure you are not pregnant.
  • Nortrel can affect your cholesterol. Your healthcare provider may need to check your cholesterol levels after you start Nortrel, especially if you already have high cholesterol.
  • Sometimes, hormonal contraceptives can make depression worse. Let your healthcare provider know if you develop new or worsening symptoms of depression.
  • Occasionally, Nortrel (as well as any other hormonal contraceptive) can cause eye changes that make it more difficult to wear contact lenses.
  • Nortrel is considered a pregnancy Category X medication. This means that it should not be used during pregnancy (see Nortrel and Pregnancy).
  • Contraceptive hormones (such as the ones in Nortrel) do pass through breast milk. Therefore, if you are breastfeeding or plan to start breastfeeding, discuss this with your healthcare provider prior to taking Nortrel (see Nortrel and Breastfeeding). Combined hormonal contraceptives (such as Nortrel) are not usually recommended for women who are breastfeeding.
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD
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