Nolvadex is often known by the name of Tamoxifen. This product is categorized as a type of hormone therapy. It helps to reduce the amount of estrogen in the body. This can slow down the progression of various health concerns so that other forms of treatment have the highest chance of successfully combatting it.

Estrogen can cause cancer cells to rapidly spread throughout the body. The use of this medication can help to isolate those cells so they are easier to treat. This gives the patient the best chances of making a full recovery.

Reasons to use

There are numerous uses for Tamoxifen. The most common one is to fight breast cancer in women. It is also used in various types of cancer treatment for men, but to a lesser degree. It can be used for a period of time by both men and women after they have been through surgery for lymph nodes.

In some instances, women who have a high risk factor for breast cancer may be taking it ongoing. This includes women who have beat the cancer but have a high risk of it returning. The same is true for women who are fighting ovarian cancer, who may be at a high risk for it developing, or who may be at a high risk for it returning.


The dose of Tamoxifen depends on the patient and what they need it for. The dose has to be carefully determined by the doctor. For fighting cancer, the dose may be higher to fight it aggressively. The stage of the cancer can also determine the dose used to help fight it. The doctor will strive to give the lowest amount of it to help but also to keep the side effects lower too.

Tamoxifen is offered in a pill format. It should be taken with food and a glass of water to reduce the risk of nausea or vomiting after taking it. For the best results, it should be taken at the same time each day. Don’t skip doses and don’t take a different dose than recommended by your doctor. It can take a few weeks to notice any improvements and then the dose can be re-evaluated with your medical professional.

The timeframe for taking Tamoxifen can be as long has 5 years. Don’t stop taking it suddenly as that can cause withdrawal symptoms and upset your hormone levels. When your doctor is ready for you to stop taking it, a plan of action will be implemented that tapers down the dose over time.

Possible Side Effects

Since Tamoxifen is taken with other medications as an overall treatment, it can be hard to determine the side effects that stem from this particular medication. Keep track of how you feel and report it to your doctor. They may need to prescribe additional medication in order to offset long lasting side effects.

The dose will influence the possible side effects from Tamoxifen. However, the possible benefits from this medication are far greater than the risk of side effects. They may go away over time as the body gets used to the medication. They may increase later on if the dose of the medicine is increased by your doctor.  Potential side effects include:

  • Changes to menstrual cycle
  • Hot flashes
  • Low libido
  • Mood changes
  • Nausea
  • Swelling of the feet, hands, or ankles
  • Weight Loss
  • Vaginal discharge

The following side effects are considered more severe and you should discuss them with your doctor:

  • Depression
  • Pain in the arms or legs
  • New lumps around the breast tissues
  • Painful menstrual cycle or excessive bleeding
  • Nausea that doesn’t go away and affects your ability to eat or take part in activities
  • Changes to your vision


Individuals at a high risk of blood clots shouldn’t take Tamoxifen. Seek immediate medical attention if you experience shortness of breath or changes to your heartbeat while taking it. If swelling is accompanied by pain or the area being hot to the touch, seek medical attention. Using Tamoxifen for long periods of time can increase the risk of uterine cancer in women if they haven’t undergone a hysterectomy. It is important for women to complete annual pap smears while taking this medication.

For males, the use of Tamoxifen may cause infertility while using it for permanently. This can hinder the ability to become a father in the future. Talk to your doctor if you are concerned about this. They may be able to assist you with preserving sperm that can be artificially inseminated at a future time if you aren’t able to produce sperm that are fertile.

Avoid excessive amounts of sunlight exposure while taking Tamoxifen. Wear sunscreen and cover skin with clothing. Wear a wide brimmed hat to keep the sunlight from beating down on your face. Avoid drinking alcohol while taking this medication. It is important to eat well and to get proper nutrition. You may have a loss of appetite, but you should continue to eat meals regularly in spite of that.

Blood work should be conducted at least every 6 months while taking Tamoxifen. This is to ensure the liver and kidneys aren’t being adversely affected by this medication. Individuals with liver or kidney problems need to be very cautious about using this medication.

Drug Interactions                    

Make sure you share with your doctor any medication you take. This includes those that are prescribed, those you buy at the store, and any herbal products. Not all of them will interact well with Tamoxifen. Once you start taking this product, don’t add anything else without discussing it with your doctor first.

If you are allergic to any types of medications, make sure your doctor is well aware of it. Let your doctor know if you think you may be pregnant or you are confirmed as pregnant. You aren’t a good candidate to take this medication during a pregnancy. You shouldn’t breastfeed a child while taking Tamoxifen either. Precautions should be taken with this medication to avoid pregnancy. Make sure your form of birth control is non-estrogenic.