Frequently Asked Questions

    Women's Health Questions
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    When you take ORTHO TRI-CYCLEN® LO, your periods may be more regular and more predictable. Your periods may also become lighter and possibly even shorter.

    • ORTHO TRI-CYCLEN® LO delivers a low level of hormones to inhibit ovulation. If ovulation does not occur, your egg is not released, and you can't get pregnant. Watch how ORTHO TRI-CYCLEN® works >
    • ORTHO TRI-CYCLEN® LO is a 28-day birth control regimen. There are 21 "active" pills (7 white pills, 7 light blue pills, and 7 dark blue pills) with hormones to take for 3 weeks. This is followed by 7 green pills to take for 1 week. The green pills contain no active ingredient but are intended to help you to remember take your pills correctly. Your ORTHO DIALPAK® Tablet Dispenser is labeled with the days of the week, so you'll know exactly which pill to take each day. Be sure to take a pill every day at the same time. Once you have taken the last green pill, begin a new cycle of pills.
  • Yes. As long as you have taken your pills correctly (at the same time, every day), you are still protected from unplanned pregnancies even when you are taking the placebo pills—the green "inactive" pills—in the fourth week of your ORTHO TRI-CYCLEN® LO pack.

    The 28-pill pack contains 21 "active" pills (7 white, 7 light blue, and 7 dark blue; all with hormones) to take for 3 weeks. This is followed by 1 week of "inactive" pills (7 green; all without hormones).
    • ORTHO TRI-CYCLEN® LO offers a highly effective, low-hormone birth control pill with predictable periods.

    Cigarette smoking increases the risk of serious cardiovascular side effects from hormonal contraceptive use. This risk increases with age and with heavy smoking (15 or more cigarettes per day) and is quite marked in women over 35 years of age. Women who use hormonal contraception, including ORTHO TRI-CYCLEN® LO are strongly advised not to smoke.


    • The serious side effects of the pill occur very infrequently, especially if you are in good health and are young. However, you should know that the following medical conditions have been associated with or made worse by the pill:
      • Blood clots in the legs or lungs, heart attacks and stroke (smoking increases the risk of having a heart attack or stroke).
      • Gallbladder disease.
      • Benign but dangerous liver tumors.
      • Breast and cervical cancer.
      • High blood pressure, although blood pressure usually returns to normal when ORTHO TRI-CYCLEN® LO is stopped.

      Call your doctor immediately if you experience any of these side effects while you are using ORTHO TRI-CYCLEN® LO:
      • Sharp chest pain, coughing of blood, or sudden shortness of breath (indicating a possible clot in the lung)
      • Pain in the calf (indicating a possible clot in the leg)
      • Crushing chest pain or heaviness in the chest (indicating a possible heart attack)
      • Sudden severe headache or vomiting, dizziness or fainting, disturbances of vision or speech, weakness, or numbness in an arm or leg (indicating a possible stroke)
      • Sudden partial or complete loss of vision (indicating a possible clot in the eye)
      • Breast lumps (indicating possible breast cancer or fibrocystic disease of the breast; ask your healthcare professional to show you how to examine your breasts)
      • Severe pain or tenderness in the stomach area (indicating a possibly ruptured liver tumor)
      • Difficulty in sleeping, weakness, lack of energy, fatigue, or change in mood (possibly indicating severe depression)
      • Jaundice or a yellowing of the skin or eyeballs, accompanied frequently by fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, dark colored urine, or light colored bowel movements (indicating possible liver problems)

    Menstrual cramps are usually less severe when you're on the Pill. Women who use the Pill may have some protection against developing ovarian or uterine cancer. In addition, acute pelvic inflammatory disease, which is a serious infection of the uterus, fallopian tubes or ovaries, and ectopic or tubal pregnancy may occur less frequently.

    The Pill is one of the best nonsurgical, reversible methods to prevent pregnancy, but if you are sexually active and have more than one partner, it is essential that your partners always use a condom. ORTHO TRI-CYCLEN® LO is intended to prevent pregnancy. It does not protect against transmission of HIV (AIDS) or sexually transmitted diseases, such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, genital herpes, genital warts, hepatitis B and syphilis. If you think you are at risk for contracting a sexually transmitted disease, using a condom may give you some protection against these diseases.
    Some drugs, including certain antibiotics, can interact with birth control pills and may make them less effective in preventing pregnancy, or cause an increase in breakthrough bleeding. Your healthcare professional can best answer whether your antibiotic will interact with the effectiveness of your pill.

    Tell your healthcare professional about all of the medicines you are taking, before starting and while you are using ORTHO TRI-CYCLEN® LO including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, herbal and dietary supplements. Especially tell your healthcare professional if you take:
    • barbiturates (for example phenobarbitol)
    • bosentan (Tracleer®)
    • carbamazepine (Tegretol® is one brand of this drug)
    • phenybutazone (Butazolidin®)
    • drugs used to treat HIV or AIDS
    • antibiotics
    • phenytoin (Dilantin® is one brand of this drug)
    • rifampin
    • topiramate (TOPAMAX®)
    • St. John's Wort (a herbal supplement)

    These medicines/herbal supplements may make your contraceptive less effective and you may need to use a barrier contraceptive when you take these drugs or products.

    Also, tell your healthcare professional if you take lamotrigine (LAMICTAL®), an anticonvulsant used for epilepsy. This may increase the risk of seizures so your healthcare professional may need to adjust the dose

    Ask your healthcare provider if you are not sure if any of your medicines are listed above.

    There is no medical reason to take a break from using the Pill. How long you would like to stay on the Pill is something you should discuss with your healthcare professional.

    Talk to your healthcare professional about steps you should take to ensure a healthy pregnancy. He or she can help you decide when to stop taking your birth control pill.

    • Irregular vaginal bleeding or spotting. If bleeding occurs in more than one cycle or lasts for more than a few days call your healthcare professional.
    • Problems wearing contact lenses such as change in vision or inability to wear your lenses. If these occur, contact your healthcare professional.
    • Fluid retention with swelling of the fingers or ankles and may raise your blood pressure. Contact your healthcare professional if you experience fluid retention.
    • Spotty darkening of the skin (particularly the face). This may persist after you stop using ORTHO TRI-CYCLEN® LO.
    • Other side effects include nausea and vomiting, change in appetite, headache, nervousness, depression, dizziness, loss of scalp hair, vaginal infections and allergic reactions.
    • If any of these side effects bother you, call your healthcare professional.

  • If you are taking the Pill for the first time, and you use a Sunday Start, you MUST use a backup method of birth control, such as condoms or spermicide, for the first 7 days. If you use a Day 1 Start, you are protected from becoming pregnant as soon as you take your first Pill.

    Get started with ORTHO TRI-CYCLEN® LO
    • In the first 1-3 packs of Pill use, it is not uncommon for some women to experience breakthrough bleeding or spotting or bleeding between periods as their bodies adjust to the hormones. Irregular vaginal bleeding or spotting may occur while you are taking the pills. Irregular bleeding may vary from slight staining between menstrual periods to breakthrough bleeding which is a flow much like a regular period. Irregular bleeding occurs most often during the first few months of oral contraceptive use, but may also occur after you have been taking the pill for some time. Such bleeding may be temporary and usually does not indicate any serious problems. It is important to continue taking your pills on schedule. If the bleeding occurs in more than one cycle or lasts for more than a few days, talk to your healthcare professional.

      If after the first 3 months, you experience irregular bleeding that lasts for more than a few days, talk to your healthcare professional.

    The correct way to take the Pill is to take one pill each day, at the same time. Select a time that's easy for you to remember. If there is something you do at the same time each day-for instance, brushing your teeth—take your pill then. Missed pills may increase the risk of pregnancy and may also increase your chance of experiencing some side effects, such as bleeding between periods.

  • Sometimes schedules get hectic and women forget to take their pills. While it's very important that you take your pill at the same time every day for the Pill to be most effective, don't panic if you forget to take one on time. Review the instructions in our What if I Miss a Pill? section and pay close attention to whether or not you need to use a backup method of birth control, such as condoms or spermicide.
  • It depends on the day and week that you took the "active" or "inactive" pill out of sequence. Your healthcare professional is the best person to decide what your next steps should be.

    There may be times when you may not menstruate regularly after you have completed taking a cycle of pills. If you have taken your pills regularly and miss one menstrual period, continue taking your pills for the next cycle but be sure to inform your healthcare professional. If you have not taken the pills daily as instructed and missed a menstrual period, you may be pregnant. If you missed two consecutive menstrual periods, you may be pregnant. Check with your healthcare professional immediately to determine whether you are pregnant. Stop taking oral contraceptives if pregnancy is confirmed.

    If you think you may be pregnant, stop taking your pills and check with your healthcare professional immediately. Until you know whether you are pregnant, it is very important to use another form of birth control, such as condoms.