Loestrin a type of the combined contraceptive pill. More commonly referred to as ‘the pill’, it is an effective and popular method of preventing pregnancy containing oestrogen and progesterone hormones.
Loestrin contains ethinylestradiol and norethisterone which are synthetic versions of the sex hormones oestrogen and progesterone that the body naturally produces. These hormones work to prevent ovulation from happening so that an egg does not get released into the womb to be fertilised. They also create a thinner womb lining so that an egg would be unable to attach itself to the uterine wall. The mucus that lines the entrance of the womb from the vagina thickens, preventing sperm from being able to enter.
When taken correctly, Loestrin is over 99% effective. Forgetting to take it is one of the main reasons the pill becomes less effective. It can also be affected by vomiting and diarrhea or certain medications. Always familiarise yourself with the instructions provided with Loestrin before starting it so that you are aware of how it works.
Loestrin will start to work right away if you start taking it on the first day of your period, or up to day five. If you begin your first pack after this then you will need to use condoms for the first seven days until Loestrin takes effect.
While Loestrin is predominantly used to prevent pregnancy, it also provides some additional benefits. It can be used to delay your period and to ease painful periods, reducing the symptoms of PMS. The pill causes you to have an artificial menstrual cycle which is regular and easy to control.
Each pill contains 1mg norethindrone acetate and 20 mcg ethinyl estradiol.
The inactive ingredients in Loestrin are: acacia, lactose, magnesium stearate, starch, confectioner's sugar and talc.
The best time to start Loestrin is on the first day of your period as you will be protected against pregnancy right away. If you are switching to Loestrin from a different type of contraception then you can start it at any time during your cycle. Otherwise, if you start the pill after the fifth day of your period you won't be protected from pregnancy right away. You'll need to use additional methods of contraception, such as condoms, for the first seven days.
Loestrin should be taken once a day at the same time each day. Each pill pack contains a 21 day supply. You'll take the pill every day for 21 days and then have a seven day break before starting the next pack.
If you have only missed one pill then this is nothing to worry about. Take your missed pill as soon as possible, even if this means you are taking two in the same day. Continue with the rest of the pack as normal. If you have missed two or more pills then your contraception is likely to be affected. Take the most recent missed pill as soon as you can and continue taking the rest of your pack on time. You'll need to use condoms for the next seven days to ensure you don't fall pregnant. If you have had unprotected sex since you missed a pill then you may need emergency contraception. Seek advice from your doctor, pharmacist or sexual health clinic as soon as possible.
If you take your pill within 24 hours of your scheduled time then your protection against pregnancy won't be affected. The progesterone only pill must be taken on time, either within 3 or 12 hours or it becomes ineffective. The combined pill has more flexibility.
It's common to experience side effects when you first start taking Loestrin but these should subside after the first couple of months. Drink plenty of water and take painkillers if you experience headaches or cramps. It's normal to have breakthrough bleeding in the first month so being prepared with tampons and sanitary pads will ensure you are comfortable. Practice self care if you experience mood changes and be mindful of how you are feeling.
There are some serious side effects associated with the pill which you should be aware of before taking it. The combined pill increases the risk of high blood pressure, blood clots and some cancers. These side effects are rare however, and your doctor will assess your medical history and any underlying conditions to determine if the pill is suitable for you or not.
Common side effects include:
Additional side effects may include:
The pill should not be taken if:
Certain medications interact with the way Loestrin works. These include:
Drinking alcohol does not have an effect on Loestrin.
Loestrin has a lower dose of oestrogen than many other brands of the combined pill making it a milder option which may suit older women better. Brevinor and Synphase are two other brands which contain a lower dose of hormones. Ovranette is one of the most commonly prescribed contraceptive pills and also proves useful for easing period pain. Long term alternatives to the pill include the copper coil, the hormonal coil, the contraceptive implant, injection or patch. None of these options will protect against STIs; male and female condoms are the only method of contraception that prevent a sexually transmitted infection.
Loestrin is not suitable for everyone. For women who cannot take the combined pill, the mini pill may be a viable alternative. Also known as the progesterone only pill, in contrast to Loestrin it only contains the progesterone hormone. This means it produces less side effects and won't cause high blood pressure. It cannot be used to control your period in the same way as Loestrin and is taken everyday throughout the month, rather than for 21 days.
When switching contraceptive pills you can usually start your new pill right away without any issues. However, it may depend on which type of pill you are switching from so ensure you follow your doctor's advice about how to start Loestrin. In some cases you may need to finish your current pack or overlap it with Loestrin. As a precaution, you may be advised to use condoms for the first seven days of swapping pills.
One of the advantages of Loestrin is that it can be used to delay your period. The pill is usually taken for 21 days before having a seven day break. To delay your period with Loestrin, run two packs back to back instead of having your usual pill free week. This will skip your period until the end of your next pill pack.
Vomiting can cause Loestrin to become ineffective if you vomit within four hours of taking your pill. In this case, take another pill once your stomach settles and then continue with the rest of your pack as usual. Your cycle will be one day shorter. If your sickness continues then keep taking your pills but make sure you use an additional method of contraception until you have been symptom free for seven days.
Some women may get pregnant as soon as they stop taking Loestrin but for others it can take longer. When you come off the pill it can take a couple of weeks for your natural menstrual cycle to return as your body adjusts. Loestrin does not have a long term effect on your fertility but there are many other factors to consider for a healthy conception such as a healthy diet and not smoking or drinking alcohol.