Apri birth control is an oral contraceptive pill. It is 99% effective in preventing unwanted pregnancy with perfect use.
Each blister card of pillscontains 21 reddish pink-colored (active) pills and 7 white-colored (inactive) pills. The active ingredients in Apri are the hormones desogestrel and ethinyl estradiol.
Not only is Apri exceptionally effective at pregnancy prevention, but it can also even out painful period symptoms like menstrual cramping.
While Apri is an excellent choice of birth control, it must be coupled with a barrier contraceptive to protect against STDs or HIV (AIDS).
Apri birth control 101
Most birth control pills appear to look alike. You get a little pocket calendar of pills, stick to the prescribed regimen, and voilà! Pregnancy prevention and peace of mind.
Actually, each type of birth control is different. Each uses a unique hormonal blend to work on various parts of the highly complex reproductive system. Vienva birth control, for example, contains ethinyl estradiol and levonorgestrel. Isibloom birth control contains ethinyl estradiol and desogestrel.
Case in point: Apri birth control, is a combination oral contraceptive that works on the follicular phase of your monthly cycle to shield you from an unplanned pregnancy.
In this guide, we’ll get acquainted with the ins and outs of Apri, what makes it different, and help you work out whether it’s the best birth control pill for you.
What is Apri birth control?
Apri is a birth control pill that protects against pregnancy in sexually active people with uteruses. Each Apri blister card contains:
21 circular, reddish-pink tablets containing 0.15 mg of active ingredients desogestrel and 0.03 mg of ethinyl estradiol
7 circular, white-colored “inert” tablets with no ingredients that prevent pregnancy
Apri belongs to a class of oral contraceptives called combined hormonal contraception that works by suppressing gonadotropins. Gonadotropins are hormones that are intimately involved in the reproductive cycles of all humans. In folks with uteruses, the primary ones are:
Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH)
These hormones work in tandem to grow and release eggs from the ovaries. When suppressed, the eggs don’t get the signal from your pituitary gland to grow. This arrests ovulation, the stage of your menstrual cycle wherein an egg “drops” into your uterus and becomes available for fertilization by sperm. When ovulation is on pause, pregnancy becomes extremely unlikely.
In addition to putting your ovaries in lockdown, Apri also causes:
A thickening of the cervical mucus, which makes it harder for sperm to travel in-utero
A thinning of the endometrium, which makes it much more difficult for a fertilized egg to implant in your uterus
In a nutshell, Apri works by hitting pause on the hormonal fluctuations responsible for ovulation, your body’s preparedness for pregnancy, and some of the unpleasantness that can arise around your period.
What are the pros and cons of using Apri?
There are numerous advantages to using Apri as your birth control method. However, these rosy little pills may have an occasional thorn.
Let’s take a look at the benefits and potential pitfalls of using Apri birth control pills.
Benefits of Apri
With Apri, you may notice some of the following fringe benefits:
Regulation, lightening, and easing up of your menstrual symptoms (e.g., period cramps)
Diminished likelihood of ovarian cysts and ectopic implantation (on the off-chance that a pregnancy occurs)
Diminished likelihood of disorders like breast tumors, acute pelvic inflammatory disease, and ovarian or endometrial cancer
Though Apri can significantly mellow period symptoms, you may also experience some breakthrough bleeding between menstrual windows.
Potential disadvantages of Apri
Taking Apri might have adverse effects if the following two situations pertain to you:
If you’re breastfeeding – Some of Apri’s active ingredients have been shown to show up in your breastmilk. Mild effects of these discharged hormones have been detected in nursing babies (e.g., jaundice), but Apri may also diminish the nutritional profile and quantity of your breastmilk. If you have a baby, it’s recommended you start Apri only after you’ve transitioned them out of breastfeeding.
If you have a preexisting mood disorder – The interaction of oral contraceptives and mental health conditions is highly contested in the medical sphere. Some studies demonstrate a correlation between hormonal contraception and depressive symptoms.
Others suggest that only people with a prior history of mood disorders are at a higher risk of disrupted moods. If mental health is a concern for you, talk to your prescriber or healthcare provider before starting Apri.
If you use St. John’s Wort – Lastly, those who rely on herbal supplements to support their mental well-being may be familiar with one stress-alleviating botanical in particular: St. John’s Wort. St. John’s Wort has been shown to make some hormonal contraceptives less effective at pregnancy prevention by increasing the rate at which their active ingredients are metabolized. If St. John’s Wort is a staple in your self-care routine, it’s best to seek out alternatives to Apri.
Who should use Apri?
Apri is an excellent choice of birth control if your primary concern is to offset the chance of getting pregnant. If used perfectly, only 1 out of every 100 people taking Apri has the chance to get pregnant.
That said, with Apri, there are some additional factors to consider before talking to your doctor about this medication. If you’ve ever had any of the following disorders, you’re best off going with a different form of birth control:
Blood clotting or thromboembolic disorders
Certain cardiovascular diseases
Headaches accompanied by neurological symptoms (e.g.,seeing spots)
Empirical evidence demonstrates that cigarette smoking puts you at risk of severe cardiovascular events when coupled with combination birth control pills like Apri. The more you smoke and the older you are, the more serious the consequences could be.
If you’re a tobacco user over 35 years old, don’t use Apri.
How to use Apri
It’s critical to use Apri birth control as directed to avoid pregnancy and reap the full benefits. Once prescribed, it is recommended that patients start the birth control the day they receive it.
There are two other times in your monthly cycle that you can start using Apri birth control:
Day 1 of your period – When you start your Apri regimen on the first day of your period, you’ll start with an active pill. You won’t need to use a supplementary form of birth control.
The Sunday after your Day 1 – You can also begin Apri on the Sunday after Day 1 of your period. Whether or not you’re still bleeding, begin with an active pill. If you start on a Sunday, always use a backup contraceptive to protect against pregnancy while waiting for Apri to take effect.
Remember, you’ll need to take one pill every day at the same time. When all of the pink and white pills in your blister card empties out, it’s onto the next card.
What happens if I miss a dose?
Life happens, and from time to time, it’s not uncommon to have a slip and forget to take your daily pill.
Because of the specific dosages in play with Apri, it’s critical to know when you missed your last pill and where in your pill pack you missed it. The protocol for missed pills vary in different situations, but here’s a breakdown of each scenario:
You missed 1 pink pill – In this situation, you’ll need to take your pill as soon as you realize you missed a dose. After that, resume taking your pills on your normal schedule, even if it means taking 2 pills in the same 24-hour window (it’s safe!).
You missed 2 pink pills in Week 1 or Week 2 – Here, you’ll take 2 pink pills when you remember your slip-up and 2 pink pills the following day.
You missed 2 pink pills in Week 3, or 3 or more pills – In this case, resuming your regimen can differ depending on when you started taking Apri. Day 1 starters should discard their blister card and start a completely new pack on the day they remember. Sunday starters will keep taking 1 new pill each day (as soon as they remember) until next Sunday rolls around. On that Sunday, discard your current pill pack and start a brand new one. In these cases, you may miss your period for 1 month (if you miss it next month, you may have gotten pregnant).
Missing an active pill puts you at risk of getting pregnant. If you miss a pill and have sex during this time frame, always use a secondary contraception method.
Missing a white pill isn’t as drastic to deal with. Remember, these are “inert” or “inactive” placebo pills that keep you on schedule. That said, you still need to remove a white pill from your supply to stay up-to-date with your regimen.
Apri is a highly effective birth control method, but it’s not equipped to protect against STDs.
Let’s take a closer look.
Apri birth control has an impressive track record of pregnancy prevention. In a clinical trial, only 10 pregnancies were reported out of 1,195 Apri users.
All in all, Apri has a 99% success rate. Accounting for imperfect use and human error, the failure rate of Apri remains at a low 5%.
Apri, like most combination birth controls, cannot prevent or protect against STDs or HIV (AIDS). If you or your partner has been diagnosed with one of these conditions, you’ll need to use a condom to protect against infection.
What are the side effects of Apri?
There are several side effects reported by people who use Apri:
Dry eyes (including contact lens intolerance)
Gastrointestinal discomfort (e.g., bloating)
Breast tenderness or enlargement
Weight gain or weight loss
Fluid retention, especially in the fingers or ankles (edema)
Does that mean you’ll experience all of these symptoms? Not at all. Side effects of Apri are unique to each individual. In most cases, the aforementioned side effects will dissipate once you’ve got your first 3 months of Apri under your belt.
While rare, the use of Apri is clinically associated with an increased risk of certain conditions. These include:
Blood clots in the legs or lungs
Liver tumors and increased risk of liver cancer
Lastly, combination birth control pills like Apri have been shown to interact with some anticonvulsants and may increase the risk of seizure in patients with epilepsy if the medications are taken together.
If you’re concerned about a preexisting condition interacting with your birth control, always drop a line to your healthcare provider before taking your first pill.
To get more from your birth control, join The Pill Club
If you’re looking for a birth control pill with an impressive track record of preventing pregnancy, Apri birth control may be an exemplary choice. Even so, starting up with any new pill regimen means you’ll also need a support network that can help you make the transition.
Enter: The Pill Club. We’re a subscription service that sets you up with your go-to birth control methods—from the pills you take to the knowledge you need to make informed decisions about your sexual health. Interested in a birth control ring instead? Learn more about Annovera birth control, which is similar to the Nuvaring birth control.
In addition to getting your monthly supplies, we offer:
Personal care—plus a monthly goodie bag to take the edge off hormonal fanfare that accompanies your cycles
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Reviewed By: Jessica Barra, FNP - Family Nurse Practitioner
At The Pill Club, our goal is to provide the most up-to-date, objective, and research-based information to help readers make informed decisions. Articles are written by experienced contributors; they are grounded in research and evidence-based practices. All information has been fact-checked and extensively reviewed by our team of experts to ensure content is accurate and on par with current industry standards. Articles contain trusted third-party sources that are either directly linked to in the text or listed at the bottom to take readers directly to the source.