With any medication, some people will get side effects and others will not. If you do get side effects, they will usually be mild and go away after a few weeks. If they do not go away or impact your life, talk to your doctor about alternative HRT options.
Taking HRT can increase your risks of certain illnesses. Attending regular check-ups and letting your doctor know about any changes you notice is essential.
The following side effects can be serious. You should stop taking tibolone and see a doctor immediately if they happen to you:
Common (up to 1 in 10) side effects reported by women include:
- signs of allergic reaction such as wheezing and shortness of breath, hives and itchy nose or eyes, and swollen lips, tongue, eyes or face
- symptoms of jaundice such as your skin or whites of your eyes going yellow
- symptoms of a blood clot such as sudden chest pain, swollen legs and difficulty breathing
- new migraine-type headaches
- an increase in blood pressure
Uncommon side effects affect up to 1 in 100 women and include:
- vaginal bleeding or spotting
- stomach or pelvis pain
- unusual hair growth
- thrush, itching, secretions
- breast pain
- inflammation of the vulva and vagina (vulvovaginitis)
- weight gain
- changes or thickening to the womb or cervix
- abnormal results from a smear test
- vaginal infections
- fungal infections
- retaining fluid in hands, ankles and feet
- feeling or being sick or having diarrhoea
- painful nipples
Women also report depression, joint pain, muscle pain, rashes, blurred or lost vision, dizziness and headaches as side effects of taking tibolone. The occurrence of these is not known.
The patient information leaflet has more information on the side effects and risks of taking tibolone.
Is there an increased risk of getting a blood clot or having a stroke from taking tibolone?
There is a very slight increase in the risk of a blood clot in the vein if you are taking tibolone. Your risk is 1.3 to 3 times higher than if you are not taking tibolone.
The risk of having a stroke is 1.5 times higher if you are taking tibolone.
Is there an increased risk of getting cancer from taking tibolone?
There is a small increase in the risk of getting breast cancer from taking tibolone, but this risk is lower than if you take combined oestrogen-progestogen HRT or oestrogen-only HRT. The increased risk depends on how long you take HRT and declines once you stop taking it.
There is an even smaller increase in the risk of getting ovarian cancer (which is a much rarer form of cancer). In women aged 50 to 54 who are not taking HRT, the incidence of ovarian cancer is 2 in 2000; for those women taking combined HRT, the incidence is 3 in 2000. The increased risk from taking tibolone is similar to other types of HRT.
The risk of getting cancer from taking HRT will depend on different factors in your personal and family medical history. Your doctor can advise you on the benefits and risks of taking HRT.
Will taking tibolone make me put on weight?
Some women report that taking HRT makes them put on weight. There is no scientific evidence to back this up, although weight gain is commonly associated with the menopause. Eating a balanced diet and taking regular exercise will help you maintain a healthy weight.
Will taking tibolone make me depressed?
Some women report that taking tibolone makes them depressed, whereas others report that taking it helps with the low mood they have experienced during the menopause. If you think taking tibolone is affecting your mental health, talk to your doctor about other options for managing your menopause symptoms.
Will taking tibolone cause hair loss?
Women report that tibolone causes both hair loss and hair growth. Although it is not listed as an official side effect, tibolone has androgenic characteristics, which means it can stimulate male traits such as hair loss. If you believe taking tibolone is causing hair loss, talk to your doctor or a trichologist (a specialist in hair and scalp).
Does tibolone cause bleeding?
It is possible to experience bleeding when you start taking tibolone, although this usually stops when your body has adapted to the new hormone levels. If the bleeding continues after 6 months or starts after taking tibolone for six months, talk to your doctor.
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