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What are the risks and potential complications of hormonal therapy?

Most hormonal medication therapy is monitored with periodic blood tests. This helps your doctor make sure that you take the right amount of the hormonal drug. 

Ideal doses vary from person to person. If the dose of hormonal medication is too small for you, it will not do its job correctly. If the dose is too high, it may cause side effects. Either of these situations can be serious and potentially life threatening.

Risks and potential complications of hormonal therapy include:

  • Complications from too little of a hormonal medication

  • Side effects from too much of a hormonal medication

  • Side effects not related to dose. For example, insulin injections can cause skin changes that are not related to the dose. These changes include abnormal bumps, dents or thickening of your skin. 

  • Side effects related to length of treatment. For example, menopausal hormonal therapy carries risks, such as blood clots and stroke. These risks may increase the longer you take menopausal hormonal therapy.

  • Unexpected side effects

Your healthcare provider is best one to advise you about the risks and complications of your hormonal therapy. Risks and potential complications of hormonal therapy radiation and surgery include: 

  • Adverse reaction or problems related to sedation or medications, such as an allergic reaction and problems with breathing

  • Bleeding

  • Exposure to ionizing radiation, which may harm normal tissues while treating diseased tissues

  • Infection 

Reducing your risk of complications

You can reduce the risk of certain complications by following your treatment plan and: 

  • Following activity, dietary and lifestyle restrictions and recommendations before, during, and after hormonal therapy

  • Informing your doctor or radiologist if you are nursing or if there is any possibility of pregnancy

  • Keeping all scheduled appointments, including laboratory testing to monitor hormone levels

  • Notifying your doctor right away of any concerns or symptoms, such as chest pain, palpitations, bleeding, fever, or increase in pain

  • Taking your medications exactly as directed

  • Telling all members of your care team if you have any allergies 

Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Sep 12, 2016

© 2016 Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the Healthgrades User Agreement.

View Sources

Medical References

  1. The Endocrine System: Diseases, Types of Hormones & More. The Endocrine Society. http://www.hormone.org/Endo101/index.cfm
  2. Growth Disorders. The Endocrine Society. http://www.hormone.org/Growth/growth.cfm
  3. Growth Hormone Excess & Deficiency Treatment: Hormone Therapy. The Endocrine Society. http://www.hormone.org/Growth/treatment.cfm
  4. Hyperthyroidism. The Endocrine Society. http://www.hormone.org/Thyroid/hyperthyroidism.cfm
  5. Pituitary Disorders Treatment Options. The Endocrine Society. http://www.hormone.org/Pituitary/treatment.cfm.
  6. Primary Hyperparathyroidism. The Endocrine Society. http://www.hormone.org/Other/upload/primary-hyperparathyroidiam-bilingual-030110.pdf.

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