The information provided here is meant to give you a general idea about each of the medications listed below. Only the most general side effects are included, so ask your doctor if you need to take any special precautions. Use each of these medications as recommended by your doctor, or according to the instructions provided. If you have further questions about usage or side effects, contact your doctor.

Direct treatment of uterine fibroids attempts either to shrink them or to reduce the bleeding they cause. These drug therapies are used to treat the symptoms without eliminating the cause.

Prescription Medications

Progestins

Common names include:

  • Progesterone
  • Medroxyprogesterone acetate
  • Norethindrone acetate
  • Megestrol Acetate

Progestins are one of the active ingredients in birth control pills. They reduce menstrual blood flow by altering the hormonal balance in the body. Possible side effects include:

  • Damage to early pregnancy—Not recommended for the first four months of a pregnancy.
  • Change in menstrual pattern
  • Sleepiness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Headache
  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Nervousness
  • Depression
  • Breast enlargement
Raloxifene

Raloxifene is an estrogen-blocking agent. Because fibroids sometimes depend on the presence of estrogen to help grow or maintain themselves, blocking estrogen may stop growth or even shrink fibroid tumors.

Possible side effects include:

  • Hot flashes
  • Sweating
  • Leg cramps
  • Blood clots in the legs, lungs, or eyes—rare
Oral Contraceptives

Birth control pills may be used to control bleeding symptoms and menstrual cramps caused by uterine fibroids. They work by decreasing female hormones and preventing ovulation.

Possible side effects include:

  • Lightheadedness
  • Nausea
  • Headache
Tranexamic Acid

Tranexamic acid pills may be used to control bleeding symptoms.

Possible side effects include:

  • Indigestion
  • Diarrhea
Fadrozole

Fadrozole is an aromatase-inhibitor. Aromatase-inhibitors interfere with a crucial step in estrogen’s synthesis in the body, which decreases the amount of circulating estrogen. Deprived of estrogen, fibroids often shrink. With long-term use, possible side effects include:

  • Bone loss
  • Worsening of cardiovascular disease
Danazol

Danazol is a synthetic male hormone. It can suppress fibroid growth. But there are also a lot of side effects, such as:

  • Damage to early pregnancy
  • Life-threatening blood clots
  • Liver damage
  • Weight gain
  • Acne
  • Hirsutism—abnormal hair growth
  • Edema
  • Hair loss
  • Deepening of the voice
  • Flushing
  • Sweating
  • Vaginal dryness
Gonadotropin-releasing Hormone (GnRH) Agonists

Common names include:

  • Gonadorelin
  • Histrelin
  • Nafarelin

These drugs can reduce the size of fibroids and may be prescribed several months before surgery. GnRH agonists are given by injection, insertion under the skin, or nasal spray.

Possible side effects include:

  • Fibroid growth within six months
  • Rapid bone loss
  • Multiple pregnancy
Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

Common names include:

  • Indomethacin
  • Naproxen
  • Celecoxib

In addition to pain relief, NSAIDs may also reduce menstrual flow.

Possible side effects include:

  • Stomach irritation, ulceration, and bleeding
  • Allergic reactions
  • Kidney damage
  • Liver damage
Narcotics and Their Derivatives

Common names include:

  • Codeine
  • Pentazocine
  • Morphine
  • Meperidine
  • Fentanyl
  • Hydromorphone
  • Methadone
  • Oxycodone

If you have severe pain, your doctor may prescribe narcotics.

Most important side effects include:

  • Lightheadedness
  • Sleepiness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Allergic reactions
  • Coma or death

Over-the-Counter Medications

Pain Relief

Common names include:

  • Aspirin
  • Ibuprofen
  • Naproxen
  • Piroxicam
  • Sulindac

Possible side effects include:

  • Stomach irritation, ulceration, and bleeding
  • Allergic reactions
  • Kidney damage
  • Liver damage
Acetaminophen/Paracetamol

Common name: Tylenol

Possible side effects include:

  • Allergic reaction
  • Liver damage

Special Considerations

Whenever you are taking a prescription medication, take the following precautions:

  • Take your medicine as directed. Do not change the amount or schedule.
  • Ask what side effects could occur. Report them to your doctor.
  • Talk to your doctor before you stop taking the medicine.
  • Plan ahead for refills if you need them.
  • Do not share your medicine with anyone.
  • Drugs can be dangerous when mixed. Talk to your doctor if you are taking more than one drug, including over the counter products and supplements.
When to Contact Your Doctor

Call your doctor if:

  • Your symptoms become worse
  • Your medications are causing side effects

Revision Information

  • Fibroids. Healthy Women website. Available at: http://www.healthywomen.org/condition/fibroids. Updated August 9, 2011. Accessed January 7, 2014.

  • Uterine fibroids. Focused Ultrasound Foundation website. Available at: http://www.fusfoundation.org/Uterine-Fibroids/uterine-fibroids. Accessed January 7, 2014.

  • Uterine leiomyoma. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/. Updated November 7, 2013. Accessed January 7, 2014.