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9.4 What Is DES?

DES (diethylstilbestrol) is a synthetic estrogen drug that was given to
millions of pregnant women primarily from 1938-1971. Use of DES
during pregnancy was thought to prevent miscarriage and ensure a
healthy pregnancy. DES did not work, and women who took DES and
the children they carried are at risk for certain health problems and
may need special care. Find out if you were exposed to DES and if you
were, tell your doctor.

Find Out If You Were Exposed to DES

There may be no obvious signs of DES exposure. If you were born between
1938 and 1971, ask your mother (or other relatives who might know her
pregnancy history) if she took any medications during her pregnancy, or if
she had any problems such as bleeding, miscarriage, premature birth, or
diabetes. Find out if you or your mother can get her medical records to see if
she took DES. For information on how to do so, contact DES Action at or 1-800-DES-9288.

If you took DES while you were pregnant, tell your children about their DES
exposure. Even if these children have not had health problems, they need to
know about DES so they can get the health care they may need now or in the

Following are some names under which DES and other Nonsteroidal
Estrogens have been sold in the United States (some of these drugs do not
contain DES, but, like DES, are nonsteroidal estrogen drugs and may have
similar effects):