Oral contraceptives, commonly known as birth control pills, are most frequently used to prevent pregnancy. Oral contraceptives are also used for the treatment for acne, regulation of the menstrual cycle, and to help ease premenstrual symptoms. Oral contraceptives contain certain hormones which cause changes in the women’s reproductive system in order to prevent pregnancy.
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Written by Patrick Moser, FNP-BC
Information last reviewed 07/31/19
Sprintec is a combined oral contraceptive, or birth control pill. It contains a combination of synthetic versions of the female hormones estrogen (ethinyl estradiol) and progesterone (norgestimate). Each pack of Sprintec contains both active blue tablets and white placebo tablets to help you remember when you need to start your next pack.
The estrogen and progesterone in Sprintec perform three actions in order to prevent pregnancy:
When taken correctly, Sprintec prevents pregnancy with 99% effectiveness. Therefore, less than one woman out of 100 women using Sprintec for contraception will become pregnant in a year. However, your risk of becoming pregnant may increase if you miss pills or forget to take the pills at the same time each day. Alternative forms of contraception, such as the intrauterine device (IUD) and implant, may be more effective than Sprintec.
A pack of Sprintec contains both active tablets and placebos. The active pills are coloured blue, whereas the placebos are white. The placebo pills do not have any active ingredients or effects and are only included to help you keep track of when to restart the active pills after your period.
The active ingredients in Sprintec (blue active pills) are: 35mcg ethinyl estradiol (EE) and 0.25mg norgestimate.
The inactive ingredients in Sprintec are: anhydrous lactose, FD&C blue no. 2 aluminum lake, lactose monohydrate, magnesium stearate, and pregelatinized corn starch.
The placebo pills contain: anhydrous lactose, hydroxypropyl methylcellulose 2208, magnesium stearate, and microcrystalline cellulose.
You should take 1 Sprintec pill daily, as instructed. Each active pill contains 35mcg of ethinyl estradiol (EE) and 0.25mg norgestimate
Sprintec comes in blister packs which contain 28 tablets each. They contain 21 active tablets and 7 inactive or placebo tablets. There are two options to begin taking Sprintec: the Day 1 start and the Sunday start.
Sprintec is best taken at the same time every day and you should follow the order of the pills in the packaging. During the seven days when you are taking the placebo (inactive) pills, you should be getting your period. Your menstruation may last seven days, but it could be shorter. Take Sprintec at a time of day when you are likely to remember to avoid late or missed doses.
If you forget a pill, take it as soon as you remember. For the next 48 hours, you should use additional contraception such as condoms, as the effectiveness of Sprintec may be reduced.
Common side effects of Sprintec are:
Nausea or vomiting
Abdominal pain, cramping, or bloating
Edema, or fluid retention
Amenorrhea (menstrual periods stop)
Breast tenderness, enlargement, or secretion
Swelling of the ankles or feet
Change in weight or appetite
Decreased serum folate levels
Aggravation of varicose veins
Irregular periods, especially in the first few months of use
Vaginal bleeding or spotting between periods
Mood changes, to include depression
Increased blood pressure
Contact lens intolerance
Seek immediate medical attention if you experience any of the following:
Severe abdominal pain
Severe headache, especially if you do not have a history of a headache disorder
Vision changes or eye pain
Severe leg pain or swelling
Slurred speech or difficulty speaking
Some people may experience an adverse allergic reaction when taking Sprintec. This may become apparent with the following symptoms:
Swelling of the mouth, lips, tongue or throat.
If any of the symptoms occur, you should seek emergency medical attention. Allergic reactions can be life-threatening.
You should not take Sprintec if you:
Certain medications can change the way Sprintec works in the body. Medications which may decrease the effectiveness of Sprintec include:
You have got a few different options when it comes to birth control pills. If you are unsure which one is right for you, it can be helpful to try different types. Maybe you are already aware of the ‘mini pill’ which contains only progesterone as its active hormone ingredient. This is useful for women who have a sensitivity toward estrogen or those who are breastfeeding.
If you prefer not to take a pill every day, there are other alternatives such as the intrauterine device (IUD), the implant or injections. There are some undesirable side effects with these contraceptive methods, so you may want to speak to a doctor before making a decision.
There is a risk, although it is a low risk, for pregnancy when using oral contraceptives such as Sprintec. Even with perfect use (no missed pills and taking medication at the same time every day), the estimated risk for pregnancy is 0.3 percent. With typical use of oral contraceptives, the estimated risk is higher at 3.7 percent during the first year of use.
In most cases, women can become pregnant as soon as they discontinue the birth control pill. It may take a few months for your menstruation to normalize. Every woman is different so there may be other reasons for not conceiving. Oral contraceptives such as Sprintec are not known to cause infertility.
There is an increased risk of blood clots, or venous thromboembolism, associated with the use of Sprintec and other oral contraceptives. This risk is directly related to the amount of estrogen in the pills. Sprintec does have a lower estrogen dose compared to some other combined oral contraceptives. However, there is an increased risk for blood clots with any combined oral contraceptive. The risk is relatively low; pregnancy is approximately twice as likely to cause blood clots compared to using oral contraceptives. The risk for blood clots is higher in older women, over age 35 years, and in women who smoke.
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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