Before initiating dydrogesterone treatment for abnormal bleeding the etiology for the bleeding should be clarified. Breakthrough bleeding and spotting may occur during the first months of treatment. If breakthrough bleeding or spotting appears after some time on therapy, or continues after treatment has been discontinued, the reason should be investigated, which may include endometrial biopsy to exclude endometrial malignancy.
Conditions which need supervision: If any of the following conditions are present, have occurred previously, and/or have been aggravated during pregnancy or previous hormone treatment, the patient should be closely supervised. It should be taken into account that these conditions may recur or be aggravated during treatment with dydrogesterone and ceasing the treatment should be considered: Porphyria; Depression; Abnormal liver function values by acute and chronic liver disease.
Other conditions: Patients with rare hereditary problems of galactose intolerance, Lapp lactase deficiency or glucose-galactose malabsorption should not take this medicine.
The following precautions apply when using dydrogesterone in combination with estrogens for hormone replacement therapy (HRT): See precautions in the product information of the estrogen preparation.
For the treatment of postmenopausal symptoms, HRT should only be initiated for symptoms that adversely affect quality of life. In all cases, a careful appraisal of the risks and benefits should be undertaken at least annually and HRT should only be continued as long as the benefit outweighs the risk.
Evidence regarding the risks associated with HRT in the treatment of premature menopause is limited. Due to the low level of absolute risk in younger women, however, the balance of benefits and risks for these women may be more favorable than in older women.
Medical examination/follow-up: Before initiating or reinstituting HRT, a complete personal and family medical history should be taken. Physical (including pelvic and breast) examination should be guided by this and by the contraindications and warnings for use. During treatment, periodic check-ups are recommended of a frequency and nature adapted to the individual woman. Women should be advised what changes in their breasts should be reported to their doctor or nurse (see 'Breast cancer' as follows).
Investigations, including appropriate imaging tools, e.g., mammography, should be carried out in accordance with currently accepted screening practices, modified to the clinical needs of the individual.
Endometrial hyperplasia and carcinoma: In women with an intact uterus the risk of endometrial hyperplasia and carcinoma is increased when estrogens are administered alone for prolonged periods.
The addition of a progestogen such as dydrogesterone cyclically for at least 12 days per month/28 day cycle or continuous combined estrogen-progestogen therapy in nonhysterectomized women can prevent the excess risk associated with estrogen-only HRT.
Breast cancer: The overall evidence suggests an increased risk of breast cancer in women taking combined estrogen-progestogen and possibly also estrogen-only HRT, that is dependent on the duration of taking HRT.
Combined estrogen-progestogen therapy: The randomized placebo-controlled trial, Women's Health Initiative study (WHI), and epidemiological studies are consistent in finding an increased risk of breast cancer in women taking combined estrogen-progestogen for HRT that becomes apparent after about 3 years. The excess risk becomes apparent within a few years of use but returns to baseline within a few (at most five) years after stopping treatment. HRT, especially estrogen-progestogen combined treatment, increases the density of mammographic images which may adversely affect the radiological detection of breast cancer.
Ovarian cancer: Ovarian cancer is much rarer than breast cancer. Epidemiological evidence from a large meta-analysis suggests a slightly increased risk in women taking oestrogen-only or combined oestrogen-progestogen HRT, which becomes apparent within 5 years of use and diminishes over time after stopping. Some other studies including the WHI trial suggest that use of combined HRTs may be associated a similar, or slightly smaller, risk.
Venous thrombo-embolism: HRT is associated with a 1.3-3 fold risk of developing venous thromboembolism (VTE), i.e.deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism. The occurrence of such an event is more likely in the first year of HRT than later.
Patients with known thrombophilic states have an increased risk of VTE and HRT may add to this risk. HRT is therefore contraindicated in these patients.
Generally recognized risk factors for VTE include, use of estrogens, older age, major surgery, prolonged immobilization, obesity (BMI > 30 kg/m2), pregnancy/postpartum period, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), and cancer. There is no consensus about the possible role of varicose veins in VTE.
As in all postoperative patients, prophylactic measures need be considered to prevent VTE following surgery. If prolonged immobilization is to follow elective surgery temporarily stopping HRT 4 to 6 weeks earlier is recommended. Treatment should not be restarted until the woman is completely mobilized.
In women with no personal history of VTE but with a first degree relative with a history of thrombosis at young age, screening may be offered after careful counseling regarding its limitations (only a proportion of thrombophilic defects are identified by screening).
If a thrombophilic defect is identified which segregates with thrombosis in family members or if the defect is 'severe' (e.g., antithrombin, protein S, or protein C deficiencies or a combination of defects) HRT is contraindicated.
Women already on chronic anticoagulant treatment require careful consideration of the benefit risk of use of HRT.
If VTE develops after initiating therapy, the drug should be discontinued. Patients should be told to contact their doctors immediately when they are aware of a potential thromboembolic symptom (e.g., painful swelling of a leg, sudden pain in the chest, dyspnea).
Coronary artery disease (CAD): There is no evidence from randomized controlled trials of protection against myocardial infarction in women with or without existing CAD who received combined estrogen-progestogen or estrogen-only HRT.
Combined estrogen-progestogen therapy: The relative risk of CAD during use of combined estrogen-progestogen HRT is slightly increased. As the baseline absolute risk of CAD is strongly dependent on age, the number of extra cases of CAD due to estrogen-progestogen use is very low in healthy women close to menopause, but will rise with more advanced age.
Ischemic stroke: Combined estrogen-progestogen and estrogen-only therapy are associated with an up to 1.5-fold increase in risk of ischemic stroke. The relative risk does not change with age or time since menopause. However, as the baseline risk of stroke is strongly age-dependent, the overall risk of stroke in women who use HRT will increase with age.
Effects on ability to drive and use machines: Dydrogesterone has minor influence on the ability to drive and use machines.
Infrequently, dydrogesterone may cause mild somnolence and/or dizziness, especially within the first few hours after intake. Therefore, care should be taken when driving or using machines.