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What are Nolvadex® Side Effects?

Tricia Christensen
By
Updated May 17, 2024
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Nolvadex®, also called tamoxifen, is an oral drug that is used as part of a treatment or prevention regimen of breast cancer or reproductive tract cancers of certain types and stages. It reduces estrogens in the body, which can produce a number of side effects, most of them similar to menopausal side effects. For many women and the few men who use this drug, Nolvadex® side effects are minor enough that they do not require discontinuation of the drug. Nevertheless, anyone taking this medicine must watch for more severe reactions and be aware of tamoxifen contraindications to prevent problems.

Some of the most common Nolvadex® side effects are similar to those experienced by women undergoing menopause. The most frequently reported effect is flushing and hot flashes, which may occur in about 30-60% of drug users. Cessation of, or changes to monthly periods are fairly common, and about 10-20% of women will note this. Other side effects occur in decreasing frequency, and include symptoms like bone or joint pain, nausea, fluid retention, development of cysts on the ovaries, changes in mood — particularly depression — and poor appetite.

Men clearly experience some different Nolvadex® side effects and may be most affected sexually with a reduced libido. Other more serious side effects for both women and men are rarer. Some of these are vomiting, hypertension, increased risk for cardiac events and stroke, bone mass loss (osteoporosis), hemorrhage, rash, anemia, and headaches. It’s important to recall that these side effects aren’t expected in all people who take this medicine, and some side effects may be managed by using other medications concurrently.

The most severe adverse effects are usually those associated with developing osteoporosis, having a stroke, or the medicine causing rare forms of cancer. Instances of these are rare but are recorded, and they’re worth understanding as part of the risk of taking the tamoxifen. Some of the Nolvadex® side effects contraindicate it for use with some people.

Pregnant women cannot take tamoxifen because it may have toxic effects on the fetus. Those who have a history of stroke or deep vein thrombosis are also advised against using this medication. People who use blood thinners, especially warfarin, are at additional risk for bleeding disorders if Nolvadex® is used. Patients should present a complete list of medical conditions, histories and any medications presently taken, with any known medication sensitivities to physicians, prior to accepting this drug.

Given the small but real potential of Nolvadex® side effects to be extremely severe, patients usually require careful monitoring when on this medication. This will mean regular check-ups with the prescribing physician, and patients should report any side effects they experience at these times. Physicians will usually order regular blood tests and scans to make sure the medicine is effective and is not causing adverse effects.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen , Writer
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

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Tricia Christensen

Tricia Christensen

Writer

With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia...
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