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Reviewed by Dr Yasmin Aghajan, MD
Information last reviewed 07/12/19
Lessina is a birth control pill that can also be used to help reduce period pains and acne. Lessina is a combined oral contraceptive (COC), meaning that it contains both progesterone and estrogen, but unlike standard COCs, Lessina contains a lower dose of estrogen to help reduce estrogen-related side effects such as nausea, breast tenderness, headaches etc.
It is also worth knowing that a pack of Lessina contains the active pills, which are pink in colour and some white placebo pills to help you keep track of when to take your pills again after your period.
Lessina works in the following ways:
Lessina is 99% effective in preventing pregnancy. The actual success rate of Lessina in preventing pregnancy, which takes into account women who occasionally forget to take a pill, is about 97%.
Lessina will NOT protect you from contracting STIs, nor will any other hormonal contraceptive. The only form of contraception to offer partial protection from STIs is condoms.
Each pack of Lessina contains active tablets, which are colored pink and inactive white tablets, which are placebos used to help you keep track of when to restart the active pills.
The active ingredients in the pink pills in Lessina are: 20mcg ethinyl estradiol (EE) and 0.1mg levonorgestrel.
The white placebo pills do not contain any active ingredients.
The inactive ingredients in both pink and white Lessina pills are: anhydrous lactose, hypromellose, microcrystalline cellulose, and magnesium stearate.
The pink pills also contain: FD&C red no. 40 aluminum lake, polyethylene glycol, polysorbate 80, corn starch, and titanium dioxide.
Lessina contains FD&C red no. 40 aluminum lake which has been linked to some cases of allergic reactions. Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction include hives/rash, facial swelling, dizziness, and difficulty breathing. Seek immediate medical attention if you experience any of these symptoms after taking Lessina.
The usual dosage of Lessina is 1 x active tablets (containing 20 mcg ethinyl estradiol and 0.1 mg levonorgestrel) per day for the first 21 days, and 1 x inactive tablets per day for the following 7 days.
Never start taking Lessina without a prescription from a doctor, and make sure to read the package instructions carefully before use. Lessina tablets come in a blister pack, marked with the days of the week and containing 28 pink, active tablets and 7 white inert tablets. When starting Lessina, you have 2 options:
Take your tablet at the same time each day. Try and make this a part of your daily routine to help you remember: for example, take your pill each morning when you brush your teeth. When you come to the end of the 21 active pills in the pack, move onto the inert pills the next day without taking a break. During this time, you will experience a withdrawal bleed, which simulates a natural period. This will not necessarily last for 7 days, but you should continue taking the 7 pills on consecutive days regardless of when you stop bleeding. When you reach the end of the pack, you will need to start a new on the next day, so make sure you always have the next pack ready.
If you forget to take one of your active pills, take it as soon as you remember and continue with the next one at the normal time, even if this means taking 2 pills in 1 day. If you miss 2 pills in a row, take 2 as soon as you remember and 2 the following day, and then carry on as normal. In this case, you should use an additional form of contraception, such as condoms, for the following 7 days, as missing 2 pills in a row can weaken the effectiveness of Lessina. You may also experience some breakthrough bleeding or spotting during this time, but this is normal and nothing to worry about. If you miss one of the inert pills, just dispose of the missed dose and carry on as normal.
Common side effects of Lessina are:
Swelling of the abdomen, ankles or feet
Uncommon side effects of Lessina are:
Sensitivity to sunlight - increased risk of sunburn
Changes in blood sugar
Periods that are longer or heavier than usual
Changes in libido (sex drive)
Stomach cramps and abdominal pain
Darkening of skin color
Increased likelihood of yeast infections
Some uncommon side effects are more severe and you should seek immediate medical attention if you experience any of the following severe side effects of Lessina:
Allergic reaction to Lessina - breathing difficulties, hives, swelling of mouth, lips, tongue or throat
Symptoms indicating a blood clot - chest pain, breathing difficulties, light-headedness, severe headache, migraine, confusion, slurring of speech, lack of coordination, sweating, fainting, visual disturbances i.e. double vision.
Do NOT take Lessina if:
In addition, you should let the prescribing doctor know if any of the following conditions apply to you:
It is possible for other medications and supplements to interfere with the action and effectiveness of other drugs. Therefore it is important that you let the prescribing doctor know of any other drugs you are taking, this includes over the counter medications, supplements, alternative medicines and recreational drugs. The following medicications may interfere with the effectiveness of Lessina, so should be avoided where possible:
Low-estrogen contraceptives such as Lessina are a good option for women who are particularly sensitive to estrogen and prone to estrogen-related side effects. However, there are many different types of oral contraceptives and it is not uncommon to try a few before finding one that works for you. Another option is the progesterone-only pill, also known as the mini pill, which contains no estrogen and is taken continuously without a break for a monthly bleed.
If you struggle to remember to take your pills each day, you can try a non-oral form of hormonal contraception. These include the implant (Implanon, Nexplanon), the shot (Depo-Provera), and the intrauterine device (IUD, Mirena, ParaGard, Skyla, Liletta, Kyleena). The IUD in particular is suited to women with certain contradictory health conditions, such as diabetes or hypertension, as it works locally to the reproductive system. You can find additional advice on which type of contraceptive might be best for you from your doctor or health worker.
Some women choose not to use hormonal contraceptives at all, and rely instead on barrier methods. These include the cervical cap (FemCap) and male and female condoms. The male condom is the only contraceptive that offers partial protection from STIs.
Lessina and Sronxy are different brands of the same medication. They both contain the same active ingredients (20 mcg ethinyl estradiol and 0.1 mg Levonorgestrel) and work in the same way.
Lessina is considered to be a safe and effective means of preventing pregnancy and is widely used by women without issue. Hormonal contraceptives, in general, can slightly increase your risk of developing blood clots, heart disease, gallbladder disease liver tumors, and estrogen-sensitive cancers such as breast cancer, cervical cancer, and endometrial cancer. The benefits of hormonal contraceptives far outweigh these risks, but it is vital that you make your doctor aware if you have a personal or family history of any of the above conditions. In this case, hormonal contraceptives may not be suitable for you, or you may be advised to choose a particular type. For more information, see ‘Contraindications’ above.
Yes, when taking Lessina you will experience a monthly withdrawal bleed that simulates a natural period. This will occur at some point during the 7 days you are taking the inert pills, although you will not necessarily bleed for the full 7 days. Make sure to continue taking the inert pills even if you have stopped bleeding. In the first 3 months of starting Lessina, it is common to experience some breakthrough bleeding or spotting; in most cases, this is completely normal and often goes away with time. However, if you feel you are bleeding particularly often or heavily, or if your breakthrough bleeding continues past 3 months, speak to your doctor for advice.
Lessina will NOT protect you from contracting STIs, nor will any other form of hormonal contraceptive. To protect yourself against STIs, at least partially, you will need to use condoms.
Hormonal contraceptives are primarily designed to prevent pregnancy, but are sometimes also prescribed to alleviate heavy, irregular or painful periods, and to treat acne. In addition, other health benefits or oral contraceptives include decreased incidence of ovarian cysts, lower risk of ovarian or uterine cancers, and protection against ectopic pregnancy, in which a fertilized egg attaches outside of the uterus.
Disclaimer: This is not medical advice. You and your physician will determine if and how you should take any medication prescribed to you following a medical consultation.
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