Progestin-Only Oral Contraceptives
- Birth-control pills
Progestin-only oral contraceptives are used to prevent pregnancy. Progestin is a female hormone. It works by preventing the release of eggs from the ovaries (ovulation) and changing the cervical mucus and the lining of the uterus. Progestin-only oral contraceptives are a very effective method of birth control, but they do not prevent the spread of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.
Progestin-only oral contraceptives come as tablets to take by mouth. They are taken once a day, every day at the same time. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take progestin-only oral contraceptives exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.
Progestin-only oral contraceptives come in packs of 28 pills. Begin the next pack the day after the last pack is finished.
It is best to start taking progestin-only oral contraceptives on the first day of your menstrual period. If you start taking progestin-only oral contraceptives on another day, use a backup method of birth control (such as a condom and/or a spermicide) for the next 48 hours. If you have had a miscarriage or an abortion, you can start taking progestin-only oral contraceptives the next day.
Progestin-only oral contraceptives are safe for use by breast-feeding mothers. If you are fully breastfeeding (not giving your baby any food or formula), you may start taking this medication 6 weeks after delivery. If you are partially breast-feeding (giving your baby some food or formula), you should start taking this medication by 3 weeks after delivery.
Before taking progestin-only oral contraceptives, ask your pharmacist or doctor for a copy of the manufacturer's information for the patient and read it carefully.
This medication may be prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
Before taking progestin-only oral contraceptives,
- tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to progestins, aspirin, tartrazine (a yellow food coloring), or any other medications.
- tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking. Be sure to mention any of the following: carbamazepine (Tegretol), phenobarbital (Luminal, Solfoton), phenytoin (Dilantin), and rifampin (Rifadin). Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications or monitor you carefully for side effects.
- tell your doctor if you have or have ever had breast lumps or breast cancer, vaginal bleeding between menstrual periods, liver tumors, liver disease, or diabetes.
- tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. If you become pregnant while taking progestin-only contraceptives, call your doctor.
- tell your doctor if you use tobacco products. Cigarette smoking may increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes. You should not smoke while taking this medication.
Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, continue your normal diet.
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember it, and go back to taking progestin-only contraceptives at your regular time. If you take a dose more than 3 hours late, be sure to use a backup method of birth control for the next 48 hours. If you are not sure what to do about the pills you have missed, keep taking progestin-only contraceptives and use a backup method of birth control until you speak to your doctor.
Progestin-only oral contraceptives may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
- irregular menstrual periods
- breast pain
- upset stomach
- increased hair growth
Some side effects can be serious. The following symptoms are uncommon, but if you experience any of them, call your doctor immediately:
- bleeding that lasts a long time
- lack of menstrual periods
- severe stomach pain
Combined estrogen and progestin oral contraceptives may increase the risk of getting breast cancer, endometrial cancer, and liver tumors. It is not known whether progestin-only oral contraceptives also increase the risks of these conditions. Talk to your doctor about the risks of taking this medication.
Progestin-only oral ontraceptives may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.
If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online [at Web Site] or by phone [1-800-332-1088].
Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store it at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom). Throw away any medication that is outdated or no longer needed. Talk to your pharmacist about the proper disposal of your medication.
In case of overdose, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. If the victim has collapsed or is not breathing, call local emergency services at 911.
Keep all appointments with your doctor.
Before you have any laboratory tests, tell the laboratory personnel that you take progestin-only oral contraceptives, as this medication may interfere with some laboratory tests.
Rarely, women can become pregnant even if they are taking oral contraceptives. You should get a pregnancy test if it has been more than 45 days since your last period or if your period is late and you missed one or more doses or took them late and had sex without a backup method of birth control.
If you want to become pregnant, stop taking progestin-only contraceptives. Progestin-only contraceptives should not delay your ability to get pregnant.
Do not let anyone else take your medication. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.
It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.
¶This branded product is no longer on the market. Generic alternatives may be available.
AHFS® Consumer Medication Information. © Copyright, The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Inc., 7272 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, Maryland. All Rights Reserved. Duplication for commercial use must be authorized by ASHP.
Last Reviewed: September 1, 2010.