Low Ogestrel is a type of low-estrogen contraceptive pill. It is a good option for women who experience troublesome side effects from standard-dose combined birth control pills. Low Ogestrel is used primarily to prevent pregnancy, but is also prescribed to treat acne and heavy, painful or irregular periods.
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Reviewed by Patrick Moser, FNP-BC
Information last reviewed 07/09/19
Low Ogestrel is a type of combined oral contraceptive containing both a progesterone and an estrogen hormone. It contains a lower-dose of estrogen compared to standard pills, which helps to reduce estrogen-related side effects such as headaches, nausea and breast tenderness. Low Ogestrel is a non-continuous contraceptive pill, which means that you will have a monthly withdrawal bleed.
Low Ogestrel works in three ways: it prevents ovulation (the release of an egg from the ovaries), preventing sperm from being able to fertilize an egg. It also thickens the mucus in the cervix, making it harder for sperm to reach the uterus in the event that an egg is released. Finally, Low Ogestrel alters the lining of the uterus to prevent a fertilized egg from being able to implant. Instead, the egg will not develop, and will instead be passed out of the body.
When taken correctly, Low Ogestrel is 99% effective in preventing pregnancy. The actual success rate of Low Ogestrel is around 97%, taking into account women who forget or miss a pill.
Remember, Low Ogestre will not protect you from STIs, nor will any other hormonal contraceptive. The only contraceptive to offer some protection against STIs is condoms.
White Low Ogestrel tablets contains 30mcg of ethinyl estradiol (EE) and 0.3mg of norgestrel. These are synthetic versions of the female sex hormones, estrogen and progesterone respectively. The peach Low Ogestrel tablets are placebos to help you keep track of your pills. They do not contain any active ingredients.
The inactive ingredients in the white Low Ogestrel tablets are: croscarmellose sodium, lactose, magnesium stearate, microcrystalline cellulose, and povidone.
The ingredients in the peach placebo tablets are: anhydrous lactose, FD&C Yellow No. 6 Lake, lactose monohydrate, magnesium stearate, and microcrystalline cellulose.
Your doctor will decide on your dose depending on your personal requirements. The usual dose is 1 x tablet containing 30 mcg ethinyl estradiol and 0.3 mg Norgestrel for the first 21 days, and 1 x placebo pill for the following 7 days.
Make sure you read the package instructions carefully and never start taking Low Ogestrel without first consulting a doctor. Low Ogestrel comes in the form of 28-day blister packs, containing 21 white active tablets (containing the active hormones) and 7 peach inert tablets. The packs are accompanied by stick-on labels marked with the days of the week. You have two options of how to start Low Ogestrel:
You should take 1 pill at the same time each day. To help you remember, try and make this a part of your daily routine: for example, take your pill each morning when you brush your teeth. When you reach the end of the 21 active pills, move onto the inactive pills the next day. During these 7 days, you will experience a withdrawal bleed which simulates a natural period. This does not necessarily mean you will bleed for 7days. At the end of a 28 day pack, you should start a new pack the next day without leaving a break, so make sure you have your next pack ready.
If you miss an active pill, just take it as soon as you remember. You can then continue to take Low Ogestrel as usual. If you miss 2 of the active pills, take 2 immediately after you remember and take another 2 the following day. Then continue as normal. The effectiveness of Low Ogestrel is reduced when you miss 2 or more pills in a row, so make sure you use other non-hormonal contraceptive methods such as condoms for the next 7 days to avoid pregnancy. During this time, you may have some breakthrough bleeding, but that’s completely normal. You can consult a doctor if you have any questions about missing pills.
As with all medications, Low Ogestrel has several associated side effects. However, compared to birth control pills with a higher dose of estrogen, you can expect to experience less estrogen-related side effects.
Common side effects of Low Ogestrel include:
Nausea and vomiting
Breast tenderness or soreness
Swelling of the ankles or feet
Irregular periods or spotting (light bleeding between periods) - this is more common when you first start taking the pill.
If you experience any of the following serious side effects you should stop taking Low Ogestrel and speak to your doctor as soon as possible:
Lumps in the breast
Mood changes, including symptoms of depression or worsening of an existing mental health problem.
Severe abdominal pain
Jaundice (yellowing of eyes or skin)
Continuous spotting, that doesn’t resolve within the first month
Sudden heavy bleeding
It is also possible to experience a severe allergic reaction to Low Ogestrel. If you experience any of the following symptoms you should seek emergency medical attention:
Swelling of the face, lips, tongue or throat
As with all medications, there are risks you should be aware of. Low Ogestrel can cause dangerous side effects related to blood clots. These include strokes, heart attacks, pulmonary embolisms and others. Therefore, you should seek immediate medical attention if you experience any of the following symptoms:
Pain in your chest, jaw or left arm
Weakness on one side of your body
Shortness of breath or rapid breathing
Sudden dizziness or fainting
Headaches with vision changes or a lack of coordination
Unusual levels of sweating
Vision changes including double vision, visual impairments and blindness.
Do NOT take Low Ogestrel if:
Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any of the following:
Before you begin to take Low Ogestrel, let your doctor know about any other medications you take (purchased with or without a prescription). The following drugs are known to disrupt the performance of Low Ogestrel:
Antibiotics can decrease the effectiveness of oral contraceptives. A backup contraceptive method, such as condoms, should be used if you are taking antibiotics.
If you are not sure whether Low Ogestrel is the right contraceptive pill for you, you can try different ones to find your perfect match. The wide variety of available pills means that they contain different forms of progestogen and/or estrogen, and some women find that they are more sensitive to different types. Low Ogestrel is advantageous for women who are sensitive to estrogen because it contains a lower dose of the hormone. If you have a known sensitivity to estrogen or are breastfeeding, you can try the progesterone-only pill. Also known as the ‘mini pill’, it does not contain any estrogen. Because the mini pill is continuous, you won’t be getting a period each month.
If you prefer to try a different contraceptive method that doesn’t require you to take a pill every day, there are many options available. Hormonal non-oral contraceptives include the intrauterine device (IUD, Mirena, ParaGard, Skyla, Liletta, Kyleena), the implant (Implanon, Nexplanon), and the shot (Depo-Provera). The IUD is a good option for women diagnosed with diabetes or hypertension because its action is local – on the reproductive system. If you are unsure about the best contraception for you, speak to a health worker or doctor.
Non-hormonal contraceptive methods include barrier methods such as the cervical cap (FemCap) and condoms (male and female). The male condom is the only contraception that protects against STIs.
Low Ogestrel is considered a safe and effective means of preventing pregnancy, particularly for women who are sensitive to estrogens. Hormonal contraceptives do very slightly increase the risk of developing serious health complications, including blood clots, heart disease, gallbladder disease, liver tumours, and estrogen-sensitive cancers. The benefits of hormonal contraceptives outweigh these slight risks, but women who have a personal or family history of these conditions should consult a doctor before taking hormonal contraceptives, as they may not be suitable for them. See ‘Contraindications’ above for more information.
Yes, you will experience a monthly bleed while taking Low Ogestrel. This is known as a withdrawal bleed, a simulation of a natural period, and takes place during the 7 days in which you will be taking the peach colored placebo pills. When you first start taking Low Ogestrel, you may experience some breakthrough bleeding between withdrawal bleeds; this is normal, and often stops with time. If you are concerned that you are bleeding often or heavily, consult your doctor for advice.
Low Ogestrel will NOT protect you from STIs, or will any other form of hormonal contraception. The only form of contraception to offer some protection from STIs is condoms.
Besides preventing pregnancy, oral hormonal contraceptives offer various health benefits. The pill can be taken to treat acne or ease the pain of heavy and irregular periods. Birth control pills have also been shown to lower the occurrence of ovarian cysts and can decrease the risk of ovarian and uterine cancer. They are known to lower the risk of an ectopic pregnancy in which a fertilized egg is implanted on the outside of the womb.
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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