Precautions and Warnings With Heather
It is important to know that as a progestin-only birth control pill, Heather is less effective than combined oral contraceptives (that contain an estrogen and a progestin). Other warnings and precautions for Heather involve things like an increased risk of ectopic pregnancy and potential drug interactions. You should not use this form of contraception if you have breast cancer, liver tumors, or undiagnosed abnormal genital bleeding.
What Should I Tell My Healthcare Provider Before Taking Heather?You should talk with your healthcare provider prior to using Heather® (norethindrone) if you have:
- Migraines or other unusual or severe headaches
- Liver disease, including liver failure, cirrhosis, hepatitis, or liver tumors
- Cancer (or if you have had cancer in the past)
- Unexplained vaginal bleeding.
Also, let your healthcare provider know if you are:
- Pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant
You should also make sure to tell your healthcare provider about any other medications you are taking, including prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
Specific Heather Precautions and WarningsSome warnings and precautions to be aware of prior to using Heather include the following:
- Heather is a progestin-only birth control pill and is not as effective as combined birth control pills (which contain both a progestin and an estrogen).
- If you happen to get pregnant while taking Heather, you may have a higher risk of ectopic pregnancy (when a fertilized egg implants outside of the uterus, often called a "tubal pregnancy"). Make sure to let your healthcare provider know if you have any signs of an ectopic pregnancy, such as severe abdominal pain (stomach pain) or back pain.
- Heather does not protect against HIV, AIDS, or other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). In many cases, it is advisable to use condoms in addition to Heather.
- It is normal to experience irregular menstrual bleeding while taking Heather. Your period may be early or late, and you may have bleeding or spotting between periods. If your period is late and you have missed any pills or took them late, you should take a pregnancy test. Also, if you miss two periods in a row, you should take a pregnancy test.
- Heather can cause ovarian cysts (noncancerous, fluid-filled sacs in the ovary). Usually, these cysts go away without treatment and rarely cause problems.
- Combined oral contraceptives may increase the risk of breast cancer and cervical cancer. It is not clear if progestin-only contraceptives (such as Heather) also increase these risks, but it may be a good idea to avoid any hormonal contraceptives if you have a history of these types of cancers.
- Heather can interact with a number of different medications (see Drug Interactions With Heather for more information). Some of these interactions are severe enough to lead to unintentional pregnancy.
- When taken correctly, Heather is very effective for preventing pregnancy. However, it becomes much less effective if taken incorrectly. Make sure you understand exactly how to take this birth control pill (including how and when to start it and what to do if you miss any pills). It is very important to take it at the exact same time each day, as taking it just a few hours late can increase the risk of pregnancy.
- Oral contraceptives increase the risk of benign (noncancerous) liver tumors. Very rarely, these tumors can rupture and cause serious problems.
- Heather may increase blood sugar levels, which can be a problem for women with diabetes. Your healthcare provider may need to monitor you more closely if you have diabetes.
- Let your healthcare provider know if you start having migraines or other unusual or severe headaches while taking Heather (or if headaches you previously had start to get worse). You may have to stop taking Heather.
- Heather is considered a pregnancy Category X medication. This means that it should not be used during pregnancy (see Nor-QD and Pregnancy).
- Although Heather is usually considered safe for women who are nursing, discuss this with your healthcare provider before taking the drug if you are breastfeeding or plan to start (see Nor-QD and Breastfeeding).