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Activella® is a medication that a doctor may prescribe to ease menopause symptoms. It is a combination drug, which means that it contains two medications, estradiol and norethindrone. This treatment is hormone therapy because these two substances are synthetic forms of estrogen and progestin, respectively.
Estrogen is necessary for many functions in the body, such as the maintenance of healthy bones. It also allows for the maturing of female reproductive organs. During menopause, a woman’s estrogen levels drop. Estrogen supplements can help relieve menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes.
Supplementing with only estrogen can raise some health risks. Women may be more susceptible to uterine cancer, for example. This is why progestin is also used in Activella® to help counterbalance the effects of estrogen. Progestin lowers, but does not completely eliminate, the patient’s risk of developing uterine cancer.
Other symptoms of menopause that Activella® may help reduce include vaginal changes. These may include burning, itching, or dryness. It may also help reduce painful or difficult urination.
In addition to reducing the symptoms of menopause, Activella® may help prevent osteoporosis, or the loss of bone mass. Thin, brittle bones are more susceptible to fractures. Patients taking Activella® for the sole purpose of preventing osteoporosis should discuss alternatives with a doctor.
Women who are considering using this medication should be aware of the possible side effects. Activella® may cause nausea, vomiting, and swelling of the feet or hands. It may also result in weakness, breast tenderness or enlargement, and vaginal discomfort or irritation. It may also lead to dark spots on the skin, especially the face, as well as problems with wearing contact lenses.
Signs of a possible allergic reaction to this medication include hives, swelling of the tongue or lips, and problems breathing. Other serious side effects may include chest tightness or pain and shortness of breath. Patients may notice a lump in the breast, abnormal vaginal bleeding, or a swollen, red, and painful leg. This medication may cause dizziness, fainting, or abnormal speech or vision. Patients who experience serious side effects should contact their doctor immediately.
It is possible to overdose on Activella®. Symptoms of this include vomiting, nausea, and withdrawal bleeding. Emergency medical care may be needed in such a situation.
Not all patients are good candidates for this medication. Someone may be unable to use this drug if she also takes a blood-thinning medication, or anti-coagulant, such as warfarin. Women who have undergone a hysterectomy or who have had uterine fibroids may be unable to use Activella®. This drug may also be contraindicated for patients with diabetes, epilepsy, and asthma.
Other medical conditions that may preclude the use of this medication are kidney, gallbladder, and heart disease. Patients may be unable to take this drug if they suffer from depression, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure. Women who use it should have yearly physical exams. They should also check their breasts for lumps every month.