Overview of the Lo Loestrin Fe Birth Control Pill

Ultra-Low-Dose Pill

Photo © 2015 Dawn Stacey

Lo Loestrin Fe is a combination birth control pill which contains a low dose of ethinyl estradiol and the progestin norethindrone acetate. Loestrin is different from standard birth control pills in two ways.

Lo Loestrin Fe offers you effective contraception with a low estrogen dose and shorter and/or lighter periods. Research shows that taking estrogen for two extra days may make your period shorter and lighter than normal.

Lo Loestrin Fe contains just 10 micrograms (mcg) of estrogen, which is the lowest available. It is an ultra-low-dose pill or "mini-pill." With this pill brand, you take 26 days of pills that contain hormones. Lo Loestrin Fe is categorized as a mini extended cycle pill because the pack contains more hormone pills than typical 28-day packs. To break this down more, one pack of Lo Loestrin Fe has 26 days of both estrogen and progestin pills, two days of only estrogen pills, and two days of placebo pills.

Prior to 2013, there were a variety of formulations of Loestrin. The manufacturer, Allegan, rebranded other formulations as Minastrin. This eliminates some confusion as now there is only Lo Loestrin Fe using the Loestrin name.

Is Lo Loestrin Fe Effective?

When taken as directed Lo Loestrin Fe is just as effective as any birth control pill: 92 percent to 99.7 percent. If you are a good candidate for the pill, you should be able to take Lo Loestrin Fe.

Loestrin Side Effects

For Lo Loestrin Fe, the most common side effects women report are nausea/vomiting, headaches, and bleeding irregularities. About 4 percent of women reported changes in weight when taking this pill for a clinical study. The lower estrogen levels may help minimize some of the typical birth control pill side effects. These pills may help decrease moodiness/irritability as well as weight gain.

Who Should Not Take Lo Loestrin Fe

Women who smoke cigarettes and are over 35 years should not use this birth control pill as they are at increased risk for heart attack, blood clots, and stroke. Your risk is increased by age and the number of cigarettes you smoke each day.

The effectiveness of this pill has not been studied for women who are moderately obese, with a BMI greater than 35. You should discuss your birth control options with your healthcare provider if you are overweight or obese.

Women who have had cancers that are sensitive to female hormones should not take hormonal birth control pills. You should also avoid them if you have a history of clotting problems or uncontrolled high blood pressure.

Non-Contraceptive Benefits

When you choose to use Lo Loestrin FE for contraception, you may experience some non-contraceptive benefits such as:

Is There a Generic Lo Loestrin Fe Pill?

A generic formulation was approved by the FDA in 2016 for production by Mylan Labs Ltd. Check with your doctor or pharmacist to find if a generic is available and if it is appropriate for you.

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