Reduce your chances of pregnancy with Sprintec birth control on prescription

Sprintec is an effective oral contraceptive that not only serves as birth control but also can ease premenstrual symptoms, make your period smoother, and treat some forms of acne. 

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Written by Patrick Moser, FNP-BC

Information last reviewed 07/31/19


What is Sprintec?

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. 

How does Sprintec work?

The estrogen and progesterone in Sprintec perform three actions in order to prevent pregnancy:

  • Suppression of ovulation. Sprintec helps to maintain more consistent hormone levels, preventing the estrogen peak during the first part of the menstrual cycle. Without the peak in estrogen, the ovary does not get the signal to release an egg. 
  • Thickening of the cervical mucus. This helps to prevent sperm from reaching the egg, preventing fertilization of the egg.
  • Alteration of the lining of the uterus. This action makes it more difficult for a fertilized egg to attach to the lining of the uterus, or womb. 

How effective is Sprintec?

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. 


Active ingredients

A pack of Sprintec contains both active tablets and placebos. The active pills are colored 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.

Inactive ingredients

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.

Which ingredients can cause an allergic reaction?

It is extremely rare for anyone to get an allergic reaction to birth control, with cases of less than one in a thousand. Sprintec does contain lactose in its ingredients so might cause some unwanted symptoms such a bloating and diarrhea if you have a lactose allergy. 


Sprintec dosage

You should take 1 Sprintec pill daily, as instructed. Each active pill contains 35mcg of ethinyl estradiol (EE) and 0.25mg norgestimate

How to start Sprintec

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. 

  • Day 1 start: This is a common starting method for Sprintec. Start taking the first active white tablet on the first day of your period – also known as day 1 of your menstruation.
  • Sunday start: Alternatively, you could start taking the first active pill on the Sunday following the onset of your period. Continue to take the pills in the order they are packaged in.

How to take Sprintec

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. 

What should I do if I miss a pill?

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. 

Side Effects

Sprintec side effects

Common side effects of Sprintec are:

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Headache

  • 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

  • Decreased libido

  • Mood changes, to include depression

  • Increased blood pressure

  • Contact lens intolerance

  • Pancreatitis

  • Gallbladder disease

  • Liver problems


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

  • Chest pain

  • Vision changes or eye pain

  • Severe leg pain or swelling

  • Numbness

  • Weakness

  • Slurred speech or difficulty speaking


Some people may experience an adverse allergic reaction when taking Sprintec. This may become apparent with the following symptoms:

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Hives

  • 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:

  • Are over age 35 and smoke
  • Currently have or have a history of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), otherwise known as blood clots in your veins
  • Have ever been diagnosed with a clotting disorder
  • Have a history of cerebrovascular or coronary artery disease
  • Have uncontrolled hypertension, or high blood pressure
  • Have diabetes with known vascular disease
  • Have headaches with focal neurological symptoms or migraine headaches with aura
  • Have ever had liver disease or liver tumors, even if they are benign
  • Have undiagnosed abnormal uterine or vaginal bleeding
  • Are pregnant or there is a chance you could be pregnant
  • Have a history of estrogen-or progestin-sensitive cancer. Examples of hormone-sensitive cancers include certain types of breast, ovarian, uterine, or endometrial cancers. 

Drug interactions

Certain medications can change the way Sprintec works in the body. Medications which may decrease the effectiveness of Sprintec include: 

  • Barbiturates
  • Bosentan
  • Carbamazepine
  • Felbamate
  • Griseofulvin
  • Oxcarbazepine
  • Phenytoin
  • Rifampin
  • St. John's wort
  • Topiramate
  • If you have been prescribed antibiotics while taking Sprintec, make sure you use backup birth control during your course of antibiotics.

Treatment Options

Alternatives to Sprintec

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.


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.

  1. “Birth Control Pills” (HealthyWomen) <https://www.healthywomen.org/condition/birth-control-pills> accessed June 27, 2019 
  2. “DailyMed - SPRINTEC- Norgestimate and Ethinyl Estradiol” (U.S. National Library of Medicine) <https://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/drugInfo.cfm?setid=d9252820-131a-4870-8b11-945d1bfd5659> accessed June 27, 2019 
  3. Shoupe D and Mishell DR, The Handbook of Contraception: a Guide for Practical Management(Humana Press 2016) 
  4. Trussell J, “Contraceptive Failure in the United States” (2011) 83 Contraception 397 
  5. “Types of Hormone-Sensitive Cancer” (WebMD) <https://www.webmd.com/breast-cancer/hormone-sensitive-cancers> accessed June 27, 2019

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