Nortrel birth control is a combination oral contraceptive that uses two hormones, norethindrone and ethinyl estradiol, to prevent unwanted pregnancy.
There are two Nortrel cycle lengths available, as well as two different strengths: 21-day pill regimens and 28-day pill regimens. In each, the yellow pills contain active ingredients, while the white pills (if there are any) are inert. If Nortrel isn’t for you, Loryna birth control and Nikki birth control are alternative options for combination birth control pills.
Nortrel combination birth control pill has a 99% efficacy rate when it comes to preventing pregnancy, though it cannot be used to prevent STI or HIV (AIDS) transmission.
Nortrel is suitable for the majority of sexually active people with uteruses, though certain individuals with preexisting disorders or many be prone to an allergic reaction may need to seek out an alternative form of birth control due to increased risk. It is important to consult with healthcare practitioners or your personal health care pharmacist for medical advice on risk factors and drug information.
Nortrel birth control 101
Red pills, pink pills, peach pills, green pills…if you’ve been looking into new methods of birth control, it can be staggering to see by the number of birth control pills there are on the market.
There’s a lot of versatility between pill brands. But Nortrel is one of the few oral contraceptives that offers three options for people in one pregnancy-preventing formula. Nortrel is an incredibly effective birth control method that gives sexually-active users 3 options for coverage against pregnancy.
If you’re looking for more control over the length of your pill regimen—and the amount of hormones in your protocol—Nortrel may be for you.
Below, we’ve laid out all there is to know about Nortrel’s effectiveness, how to take it, and what to expect if you start Nortrel contraceptive use.
What is Nortrel birth control?
Nortrel is a combination birth control pill. It contains two (rather than one) hormones to prevent pregnancy in people with uteruses. The hormonal duo in Nortrel birth control pills is:
Norethindrone – Norethindrone is a type of progestin. This active pill works by arresting the development of the egg, inhibiting fertilization, thus preventing pregnancy. In clinical settings, norethindrone is also used to regulate menstrual rhythms, vaginal bleeding, and treat endometriosis.
Ethinyl estradiol – Ethinyl estradiol prevents the maturation of the egg and is a synthetic version of estrogen. In combination with norethindrone, ethinyl estradiol can also make the uterus less hospitable to sperm by thickening cervical mucus. It also thins the uterine lining, making it difficult for a fertilized egg to implant.
There are two types of tablets you may see in a Nortrel combination birth control pill pack:
Yellow, active tablets, which contain norethindrone and ethinyl estradiol.
White, inert tablets, which do not contain any active ingredients.
There are three different kinds of Nortrel birth control on the market. While the ingredients and colors of the tablets used are the same, they contain different amounts of hormones. Each kind of Nortrel follows its own regimen cycle length.
The four types of Nortrel birth control are:
Nortrel 1/35 Tablets, 21 Day Regimen – Each yellow (active) tablet in this Nortel variant carries 1 mg of norethindrone and 0.035 mg of ethinyl estradiol. Every blister card has 21 yellow tablets and no white tablets.
Nortrel 1/35 Tablets, 28 Day Regimen – Each yellow (active) tablet in this version of Nortrel contains 1 mg of norethindrone and 0.035 mg of ethinyl estradiol. Every blister card has 21 yellow tablets and 7 white (inactive) tablets.
Nortrel 0.5/35 Tablets – Each active (pale yellow) tablet in this version of Nortrel contains 0.5 mg of norethindrone and 0.035 mg of ethinyl estradiol. This version of Nortrel contains less norethindrone than Nortrel 1/35. Every blister card has 21 pale yellow tablets and 7 white (inactive) tablets.
Nortrel 7/7/7 Tablets, 28 Day Regimen - Each active (pale yellow) tablet in this version of Nortrel contains 0.5 mg of norethindrone, USP and 0.035 mg of ethinyl estradiol. Each blue tablet contains 0.75 mg of norethindrone, USP and 0.035 mg of ethinyl estradiol. Each peach tablet contains 1 mg of norethindrone, USP and 0.035 mg of ethinyl estradiol. Every blister card has 28 tablets with 7 light yellow (active) tablets, 7 blue (active) tablets, 7 peach (active) tablets, and 7 white (inactive) tablets.
One of the perks of Nortrel birth control is the variety they offer to people who are sexually active. Depending on your lifestyle, responsibilities, and personal preferences, you can weigh your options and choose a cycle length that works for you.
That said, it is extremely important to know which regimen you’re on to adequately protect against unwanted pregnancy. Be sure to read the leaflet included with your regimen, and double-check with your care provider if you’re unsure of which protocol you’re on.
What are the pros and cons of using Nortrel?
The primary purpose of Nortrel birth control is written into the name. If you’re not keen on having a bouncing bundle of joy around anytime soon, Nortrel can give you more control over your likelihood of getting pregnant.
Aside from keeping the stork from coming to visit, there are some other notable benefits to using Nortrel:
Regulating your periods – Combination birth control pills like Nortrel are exceptionally effective at making your monthly menstrual cycles predictable.
Alleviating period symptoms – Dysmenorrhea, or painful, even debilitating menstrual cramps, affect more than half of people with uteruses. The degree of discomfort varies between individuals, but it’s estimated that up to 20% of women experience disruptions to daily life due to period pain. Combination birth control like Nortrel may be able to reduce period cramping and related symptoms like nausea and fatigue.
Reducing iron deficiency – By regulating and relieving the grittiest part of periods, Nortrel may also be able to control the amount of blood lost during menses. This may help improve the well-being of individuals who struggle with anemia or low iron caused by their monthly crimson wave.
Whether you want to keep babies at bay or prevent reproductive illness, there are plenty of reasons to get excited about taking Nortrel birth control.
That said, there are some potential drawbacks to take into account before starting your regimen:
Headaches – Some people who take Nortrel experience the onset or worsening of headaches after they’ve struck up with the pill. If you struggle with migraines already, pay close attention to your symptoms—if they get more painful or more regular, it may be best to switch to a different method of birth control. If you have migraines with aura, you shouldn’t use Nortrel at all.
Fluid retention – Nortrel, among other oral contraceptives, may lead to edema (fluid retention). Fluid retention, which is not the same as weight gain, affects the tissues beneath your skin (primarily in the legs and arms). Some underlying medical conditions can be complicated by fluid retention, so talk to your care provider if you have concerns.
Emotional dysregulation – Hormones play a major role in the regulation of your emotions. This means that people who have dealt with mental health issues in the past should use special caution when taking a combination birth. Symptoms of depression, in particular, should be monitored closely, particularly in the first few weeks and months of your Nortrel regimen.
Who should use Nortrel?
Nortrel is a sterling little yellow birth control pill to take for anyone who has a uterus. It’s an excellent choice if you are sexually active to prevent unwanted pregnancy.
That said, there are some individuals who may be better off opting for a different form of birth control. Nortrel is not suitable for:
People who smoke and are over the age of 35
People with high cholesterol
People with thromboembolic (blood clotting) disorders
People with vascular conditions
People with high blood pressure
People with liver disease
People with breast or reproductive types of cancers
Finally, you shouldn’t take Nortrel birth control if you are pregnant. There is no evidence to suggest that accidentally taking Nortrel during early pregnancy can harm your baby. However, you should discontinue your regimen if you find out you are pregnant.
In a similar vein, people who are breastfeeding are discouraged from taking Nortrel. This is because the active ingredients in Nortrel can filter into your breastmilk and be ingested by your infant. The estrogen in Nortrel can also reduce your milk supply. If you’re breastfeeding and sexually active, opt for progestin-only or non-hormonal birth control, such as norethindrone birth control, to prevent unwanted pregnancy (you’ve got your hands full already!)
How to use Nortrel?
Before we break down how to use Nortrel, let’s circle back to something we mentioned in the beginning: there are four types of Nortrel, which means it’s very important that you’re certain which type of pill you are taking.
There are two regimen lengths for Nortrel users:
If you have a Nortrel 21-pill pack, you will take one pill per day for three weeks. At the start of your fourth week, you’ll take no pills. After the last day of your fourth week, you’ll start a brand new Nortrel 21-pill blister card.
If you have a Nortrel 28-pill pack, you will take one pill per day for four weeks. Your first 3 weeks will be yellow pills, and in your 4th week you will take white (inactive) pills. Continue taking your white pills at the same time you took your yellow pills in the preceding weeks. Once your fourth week elapses, you will start a brand new Nortrel 28-pill blister card, starting with the yellow pills.
Whichever variety of Nortrel you reach for, you’ll only need to take one pill per day. Before you start your regimen, pick a time of day that you’re most likely to remember to take it. You need to take your Nortrel pill at the same time every day to ensure your hormone levels can protect against pregnancy.
It is always recommended that you start your birth control the day that it is received or prescribed by a healthcare physician. If you’re ready to start taking Nortrel, you should take it the day you recieve your pack. You also have two additional options for when to start your regimen, but it’s recommended you start right away:
Start on a Sunday – Your first option is to begin Nortrel on the Sunday following day 1 of your period. You should still take your Nortrel pill even if you are still bleeding. If Sunday is the first day of your period, you need to take your first pill on that Sunday. If you go this route, be sure to use a backup birth control method for at least one week after you begin your regimen.
Start on the first day of your period – Alternatively, you can start your Nortrel regimen on the first day of your period, whenever it falls during the week. You must take Nortrel within the first 24 hours of menstrual onset. You will not need to adopt an alternative or backup contraception method if you begin your period on Day 1 (it is not possible to get pregnant while you are menstruating).
It is important that you keep up with your daily pill regimen once you’ve settled on a time and cycle length for your Nortrel protocol. If you miss a day or more, you may be at risk of getting pregnant and may need to consider using emergency contraception if you have unprotected sex during that time.
All told, mistakes happen, life happens, and sometimes people forget to take their little yellow pill. If you miss a day or several days of Nortrel, break out your leaflet for instructions on how to get back on track. So long as you use a supplementary method of birth control, you can still keep yourself and your partner protected against a pregnancy you aren’t ready for.
If you’re sexually active and not ready to have a baby, you’ll be happy to know that Nortrel can offer near-perfect coverage for preventing pregnancy. Let’s take a closer look at the efficacy of this contraceptive method.
Oral contraceptives like Nortrel are the single most effective way of preventing pregnancy without surgical intervention. Wondering whether condoms vs birth control is the proper way to go?
With perfect use—meaning, if you don’t have a slip-up—your likelihood of becoming pregnant is 1%. Birth control pills like Nortrel are more effective at offsetting pregnancy than male condoms, female condoms, withdrawal (the “pull-out method”), and even periodic abstinence alone.You may prefer to use a hormonal birth control vaginal ring and if this is the case, consider Annovera birth control as an alternative.
While Nortrel is a dynamite way of keeping buns out of the oven, it is not a reliable method for other sexually transmitted infections.
Nortrel cannot be used to prevent the transmission of STIs. Likewise, it cannot be used as a preventative measure against contracting HIV (AIDS). If you or your partner has been diagnosed with any type of STD, you will need to use a condom to keep you both protected.
What are the side effects of Nortrel?
Just as every rose has its thorn, and every pill has its side effects. Everyone’s body is different, which means Nortrel’s side effects will vary between individuals.
That said, there are a few mild (though, at times, pesky) ones that crop up more than others, particularly when you first start using it:
Dry eyes (the bane of all contact lens-wearers)
Typically, Nortrel’s side effects dissipate after the first three months of your regimen. Even so, it’s important to note that some of them—namely vomiting—can interfere with the efficacy of the pill. If you experience vomiting or diarrhea when taking Nortrel, use a backup method of birth control to keep yourself covered against unwanted pregnancy.
Most people who take oral contraceptives do not experience severe side effects. However, in rare cases, some serious complications may result from taking Nortrel:
Blood clots in the lungs or legs
If you are a smoker, your probability of developing severe side effects from Nortrel is higher, especially if you are over the age of 35. This is why tobacco users are not advised to take Nortrel. Moreover, if you have a history of blood clotting disorders, liver disease, or cardiac complications, you are strongly advised not to take Nortrel.
All told, Nortrel is up there with the greats as a combination birth control method with a near-perfect track record for preventing pregnancy. It’s also an excellent choice if you’re looking to find relief and regularity in your periods.
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