As the future of contraception remains uncertain, one point bears reminding: access to birth control has come a long way.
It was not until 1960 that the first oral contraceptives – coined “birth control pills” or “the Pill” –were approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and hit the market.¹
Now, more than 50 years later, over 35 varieties of the Pill exist on the market.² Additional options have also been introduced: intrauterine devices (IUDs), vaginal rings, implants and more. Even with the availability of various birth control methods, the Pill remains the most popular form of contraception, used by over 10 million women of reproductive age in the U.S. annually.³
“When my patients express interest in prescription birth control for pregnancy prevention, while individual needs vary, I generally recommend they first try the Pill. If used appropriately, it can be an effective option for women,” OB/GYN Jessica Shepherd, M.D., said. “That said, because the Pill may not be right for everyone, it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider about your options and make the decision together.”
Whether you’re a woman considering prescription oral contraception or a parent whose daughter is exploring her options, Dr. Shepherd shares the following facts to help you get to know the birth control pill:
- What are oral contraceptives? Oral contraceptives, also known as birth control pills or the Pill, are taken daily to prevent pregnancy. Oral contraceptives are the most popular form of birth control in the U.S.
- How does the Pill work? There are several FDA-approved birth control pills on the market that contain various types and amounts of hormones, such as estrogen and progestin. They work to lower the risk of pregnancy primarily by suppressing ovulation, or the release of an egg from the ovary. Other possible ways that birth control pills work may include thickening the cervical mucus to prevent sperm from reaching the uterus, and by thinning the lining of the uterus (or endometrium) to make it less likely for an egg to attach there.
- Is the Pill effective? Yes, the Pill is FDA-approved to prevent pregnancy and should be taken at the same time every day. Chances of becoming pregnant depend on how well directions for taking birth control pills are followed.
- Does the Pill start working right away? When starting the Pill, use of back-up contraception is necessary, like condoms and spermicide, for the first seven days if a woman starts taking the Pill on any day other than the first day of her period.
- What is an example of a prescription birth control pill? One option is Lo Loestrin® Fe (norethindrone acetate and ethinyl estradiol tablets, ethinyl estradiol tablets and ferrous fumarate tablets), the No.1-prescribed birth control pill by OB/GYNs.4 With just 10 micrograms of daily estrogen, it is a birth control pill for pregnancy prevention with the lowest dose of daily estrogen available on the market.5 Please see Important Risk Information, including Boxed Warning, below.
For additional facts about the birth control pill, visit KnowYourBirthControl.com, and speak to your healthcare provider to determine the method that is right for you.
What is Lo Loestrin Fe?
Lo Loestrin Fe is a prescription birth control pill used for the prevention of pregnancy. If you are moderately obese, discuss with your healthcare provider whether Lo Loestrin Fe is appropriate for you.
IMPORTANT RISK INFORMATION
WARNING TO WOMEN WHO SMOKE
Do not use Lo Loestrin Fe if you smoke cigarettes and are over 35 years old. Smoking increases your risk of serious cardiovascular side effects (heart and blood vessel problems) from birth control pills, including death from heart attack, blood clots, or stroke. This risk increases with age and the number of cigarettes you smoke.
Who should not take Lo Loestrin Fe?
Do not use Lo Loestrin Fe if you have or have had blood clots, history of heart attack or stroke, high blood pressure that medicine cannot control, breast cancer or any cancer that is sensitive to female hormones, liver disease or liver tumors, unexplained bleeding from the vagina, if you are or may be pregnant, or if you take Hepatitis C drugs containing ombitasvir/paritaprevir/ritonavir, with or without dasabuvir, as this may increase levels of liver enzymes in the blood.
Whatelse should I know about taking Lo Loestrin Fe?
Treatment with Lo Loestrin Fe should be stopped if you have a blood clot, and at least 4 weeks before and through 2 weeks after major surgery. You should not take Lo Loestrin Fe any earlier than 4 weeks after having a baby, or if you are breastfeeding. If you experience yellowing of the skin or eyes due to problems with your liver, you should stop taking Lo Loestrin Fe. If you are pre-diabetic or diabetic, your doctor should monitor you while using Lo Loestrin Fe. Your doctor should evaluate you if you have any significant change in headaches or irregular menstrual bleeding.
What are the most serious risks of taking Lo Loestrin Fe?
Lo Loestrin Fe increases the risk of serious conditions including blood clots, stroke, and heart attack. These can be life-threatening or lead to permanent disability.
What are the possible side effects of Lo Loestrin Fe?
The most common side effects reported by women taking Lo Loestrin Fe in a study were nausea/vomiting, headache, spotting or bleeding between menstrual periods, painful menstruation, weight change, breast tenderness, acne, abdominal pain, anxiety, and depression.
Birth control pills do not protect you against any sexually transmitted disease, including HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
© 2017 Allergan. All rights reserved.
Allergan® and its design are trademarks of Allergan, Inc.
Lo Loestrin® and its design are registered trademarks of Allergan Pharmaceuticals International Limited.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
¹Selections From FDLI Update Series on FDA History – FDA’s Approval of the First Oral Contraceptive, Enovid. (n.d.). Retrieved Nov. 9, 2017, from https://www.fda.gov/aboutfda/whatwedo/history/productregulation/selectionsfromfdliupdateseriesonfdahistory/ucm092009.htm
² Oral Contraceptives. (2017, Oct. 5). Retrieved Nov. 9, 2017, from http://www.empr.com/oral-contraceptives/printarticle/123837/
³Jones, J., Ph.D, Mosher, W., Ph.D, & Daniels, K., Ph.D. (2012). Current Contraceptive Use in the United States, 2006–2010, and Changes in Patterns of Use Since 1995. National Health Statistics Reports, (60), 1-26. Retrieved Nov. 7, 2017, from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhsr/nhsr060.pdf.
4 IMS Health, Inc. Monthly New Rx by Specialty; December 2010-December 2016 (Claim derived from the use of information under license from IMS Health, Inc., which expressly reserves all rights, including rights of copying, distribution, and republication).
5 Lo Loestrin Fe prescribing information. Irvine, CA: Allergan USA, Inc.; 2017.