Diethylstilbesterol (DES) was given to pregnant women in the United States from 1938 to 1971 to prevent miscarriage and premature labor. Females who received DES or who were exposed in utero to DES (DES daughters) are at increased risk for certain health problems.

DES was prescribed from 1938 to 1971 in the United States. It continued to be available outside the US for several more years. A woman who received DES should inform her children of this fact, since both sons and daughters can be affected.


Problems for women who received DES:

(1) slight increase in relative risk for breast cancer


Problems for women exposed to DES in utero (DES daughters):

(1) infertility

(2) uterine malformations, include T-shaped uterus

(3) cervical malformations, including a "cockscomb". cervical collar

(4) increased risk for ectopic pregnancy, premature delivery or miscarriage in the second trimester if urogenital malformations present

(5) benign vaginal adenosis

(6) clear cell adenocarcinoma of the vagina or cervix


Monitoring recommendations for women who received DES:

(1) monthly breast self-exams with annual medical examination and mammogram after age 40


Monitoring recommendations for women exposed to DES in utero:

(1) examination for cervical and uterine malformations, including hysterosalpingogram

(2) annual breast and pelvic examinations

(3) monitoring for clear cell adenocarcinoma of vagina or cervix

(4) preconception counseling

(5) reproductive consultation if infertile

(6) close monitoring during early pregnancy

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