Lo Loestrin Fe birth control 101
With many different types of birth control out there, birth control pills are one of the most popular forms of contraception. In addition to preventing pregnancy, some birth control pills can also mitigate menstrual pain, regulate periods, reduce PMS symptoms, and treat acne.
While birth control has a lot to offer, not all pills are made the same. The right birth control pill for you will depend on your body’s unique makeup. Sometimes, it takes a little trial and error to find the right one.
If you often experience side effects from standard birth control pills, you may be a good candidate for a low-dose birth control option, like Lo Loestrin Fe. Below, we’ll discuss this birth control’s dosage, drug interactions, side effects, and more.
What is Lo Loestrin Fe birth control?
Lo Loestrin Fe is a low-dose combination birth control pill that was approved by the FDA in 2010.
Each pack of Lo Loestrin Fe has 28 pills, 26 of which are “active” (meaning, they contain hormones). The first 24 pills are blue and contain a combination of the following hormones:
Norethindrone acetate, a synthetic form of progesterone hormone
Ethinyl estradiol, a synthetic form of estrogen hormone
The next two pills are white and only contain Ethinyl estradiol.
The final two pills are brown. These pills are “inert” or “inactive,” which means they don’t contain any hormones at all. The brown pills in Lo Loestrin Fe contain a small amount of iron and are mostly there to keep you on schedule so that you don’t start your next pack late.
Who should use Lo Loestrin Fe?
If you’ve experienced unpleasant side effects from regular-dose birth control pills, a low-dose pill like Lo Loestrin Fe oral contraceptive may be worth a try.
This is because Lo Loestrin Fe uses the lowest possible dose of estrogen to prevent pregnancy. Many other combination birth control pills, such as Enskyce birth control or Yasmin birth control, may contain as much as 30 to 50 micrograms of synthetic estrogen. Lo Loestrin Fe only contains 10mg, which means it may induce fewer side effects in some people who take it.
That said, while Lo Loestrin Fe offers many unique advantages, it’s not for everyone. You shouldn’t take Lo Loestrin Fe if you:
Smoke cigarettes and are over 35
Have or have had blood clots in your legs, lungs, or eyes
Have an inherited blood clotting disorder
Have a history of heart attacks or strokes
Have uncontrolled high blood pressure
Have a history of breast cancer
Have a history of liver disease or liver tumors
Take Hepatitis C drugs that contain ombitasvir, paritaprevir, or ritonavir
Are diabetic or pre-diabetic and have kidney, eye, nerve, or blood vessel damage
It’s also important to note that Lo Loestrin Fe’s clinical trials did not include people who menstruate who had BMIs above 35. If you fall into this BMI range, you may want to check with your healthcare provider for medical advice and find out if Lo Loestrin Fe is a suitable option for you.
Is Lo Loestrin Fe a good birth control method?
You are probably wondering, how effective is birth control? In general, combination birth control pills have a very high efficacy rate at preventing pregnancy. With perfect use, they are 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. With typical use (factoring in human error) they’re 91% effective.
When it comes to Lo Loestrin Fe specifically, one study found that 2 to 4 out of every 100 people got pregnant during a year of using this pill. In other words, Lo Loestrin Fe has an efficacy rate of 96% to 98%.
Your chances of getting pregnant while on Lo Loestrin Fe depend on how faithfully you stick to your pill-taking schedule. If you follow the directions to a tee, it may be more effective than if you miss pills or take them in the wrong order. As with any other hormonal birth control option, Lo Loestrin Fe oral contraceptive has its own pros and cons.
Lo Loestrin Fe benefits
In addition to preventing pregnancy, Lo Loestrin Fe may offer the following benefits:
Lighter and shorter periods
Decreased risk of ovarian cysts, ovarian cancer, and endometrial cancer
Lo Loestrin Fe disadvantages
If you’re considering using Lo Loestrin Fe as your birth control method of choice, you are a relatively low-risk candidate if you’re young, healthy, and don’t smoke. But like all combination hormonal contraceptives, Lo Loestrin Fe may increase your risk of:
Blood clots (especially if you smoke, are obese, or are older than 35)
Moreover, there are some health conditions and circumstances when it’s important to stop taking Lo Loestrin Fe if you decide to use it. You should immediately discontinue your Lo Loestrin Fe regimen if:
You have major surgery – Use of Lo Loestrin Fe should be paused at least 4 weeks before major surgery with prolonged immobilization due to increased risk of blood clots. You shouldn’t resume use until 2 weeks into recovery from surgery. Ensure you discuss your birth control with your surgeon before stopping the pill.
You’re pregnant or postnatal – If you’re pregnant or a new mother, you shouldn't start taking Lo Loestrin Fe until four to six weeks after giving birth.
You’re breastfeeding – If you choose to breastfeed your baby, you should pause your Lo Loestrin Fe regimen until breastfeeding is well established, usually around the sixth week after birth.
You notice eye or skin yellowing – If you develop yellowing of your eyes or skin, this may indicate a problem with your liver. In this case, you should stop taking Lo Loestrin Fe and consult with your healthcare provider.
Things to consider before using Lo Loestrin Fe
Before you decide on any combination birth control pill, it’s important to consider the medication’s side effects and drug interactions.
As with many hormonal birth controls, Lo Loestrin Fe may induce some side effects (though these are typically most pronounced in the first few months of use). Fortunately, some people may notice fewer long-lasting or severe side effects than other types of birth control pills due to Lo Loestrin Fe’s low dose.
That said, look out for the following if you decide to start on Lo Loestrin Fe birth control:
Spotting or breakthrough vaginal bleeding
Side effects aside, Lo Loestrin Fe may not work as well if you take it alongside certain other medications or herbal supplements. These drugs and herbs can impair Lo Loestrin Fe’s efficacy:
How to use Lo Loestrin Fe
Because Lo Loestrin Fe’s efficacy depends on how carefully you adhere to your regimen, it’s important to know how to use it. To start using Lo Loestrin Fe birth control, follow these steps:
Choose your start date – Once you receive your Lo Loestrin Fe pack, you can start using it right away or wait for the first day of your period to begin. If you start Lo Loestrin Fe on the first day of your period, it will be effective right away. If you start it any other day, you’ll need to use a backup birth control method for seven days.
Choose your start time – You’ll need to take your pill at the same time every day. Choose a time that’s convenient for your schedule and easy to remember, and be sure to take it within 1 hour of your chosen window each day.
Pay attention to pill color – Lo Loestrin Fe is color-coded to make it even easier to know which pill to take to stay protected against unwanted pregnancy. It’s essential to take the pills in the right order: 24 blue days, 2 white days, and 2 brown days.
Keep pill packs on hand – Once you’ve taken every pill in your Lo Loestrin Fe pill card, you’ll need to start a new pack the day after your last pack is complete. Be sure to keep a supply of Lo Loestrin Fe birth control handy if you’re approaching the end of your pack.
What to do if you missed a dose?
If you miss an active dose of Lo Loestrin Fe (a blue or white pill), it may not be as effective at protecting you from getting pregnant. Here are three “slip-up” situations, and how to get back on track if they happen to you:
If you miss one blue pill, take it as soon as possible and take your next pill at your normal time. You don’t need to use a backup birth control method.
If you miss two blue pills in a row, take two pills that day and two more the next day to catch up. For the next 7 days, you should use a backup barrier birth control method when you have sex.
If you miss two pills (blue or white) or three or more pills, toss out your pill pack and start a new one that day. Make sure to use a barrier method of birth control for the next 7 days.
If you forget either of the 2 brown pills, simply toss them out and start a new pack on the same day that you normally would. You don’t need to use backup birth control.
If you’re ever unsure how many pills you missed, you can always start a new pack and use a backup birth control method for the next 7 days to stay protected.
The Pill Club: Online birth control prescriptions delivered to you for free
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Guttmacher Institute. Many American Women Use Birth Control Pills for Noncontraceptive Reasons.
Medscape. FDA Approves Low-Estrogen Combination Oral Contraceptive.
The Pharma Letter. US Appeals Court upholds Lo Loestrin Fe patent.
American Family Physician. Very-Low-Dose Birth Control Pills in Mid-Life (Perimenopause).
Cleveland Clinic. Birth Control: The Pill.
Planned Parenthood. How effective is the birth control pill?
National Institute of Health. Highlights of Prescribing Information.
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