The Benefits and Risks of Lo Loestrin Fe

Lo Loestrin Fe is a combination birth control pill. It contains norethindrone acetate and a low dose of ethinyl estradiol. Ethinyl estradiol is a synthetic form of the hormone estrogen. Norethindrone acetate is a synthetic form of the hormone progesterone, also known as progestin.

Lo Loestrin Fe provides effective contraception with the lowest dose of estrogen possible. This may reduce side effects, especially in perimenopausal women.

This article discusses Lo Loestrin Fe, its uses, dosage, and side effects. It also discusses some of this drug's potential interactions.


Lo Loestrin Fe is used to prevent pregnancy. It also has some benefits beyond preventing pregnancy, including:

Before Taking

The effectiveness of Lo Loestrin Fe has not been well studied in those with a body mass index (BMI) greater than 35. Discuss your birth control options with your healthcare provider if this applies to you.

Body mass index (BMI) is a dated, flawed measure. It does not take into account factors such as body composition, ethnicity, sex, race, and age. 
Even though it is a biased measure, BMI is still widely used in the medical community because it’s an inexpensive and quick way to analyze a person’s potential health status and outcomes.

Women over 35 who smoke cigarettes should not use Lo Loestrin Fe. This is because of an increased risk for heart attack, blood clots, and stroke. Your risk increases due to age and the number of cigarettes you smoke each day.

People with certain conditions should not use Lo Loestrin Fe. This includes:

  • Liver disease
  • Breast cancer
  • Other estrogen- or progesterone-sensitive cancers

People at high risk of conditions related to blood clots should also avoid taking this medicine. These conditions include:


Lo Loestrin Fe is a low-dose hormonal contraceptive. It contains only 10 micrograms (mcg) of estrogen.

A pack of Lo Loestrin Fe contains 28 pills. The first 24 pills in the pack are combination estrogen and progestin pills. This is followed by two days of estrogen-only pills and two more days of placebo pills containing no hormones.

To use, take one pill at the same time every day. Avoid skipping pills. The pills should be taken in the order indicated on the pack.

Research has shown that taking estrogen for two extra days may make your period shorter and lighter than normal.

Side Effects

Common side effects of lo loestrin fe
Verywell / Cindy Chung

The most common side effects of Lo Loestrin Fe include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Bleeding irregularities

In premarket clinical research, around 4% of women also reported:

3% reported acne or abdominal pain.

Compared to other combination birth control pills, the lower estrogen dose appears to minimize some of the common side effects, both in duration and severity.


Some medications or herbal supplements may decrease the effectiveness of Lo Loestrin Fe or increase your likelihood of having breakthrough bleeding. If you're using any of these drugs or herbs, talk with your healthcare provider. You may need to use backup contraception or another method of birth control:

  • Barbiturates
  • Tracleer (bosentan)
  • Tegretol (carbamazepine)
  • Felbatol (felbamate)
  • Gris-PEG (griseofulvin)
  • Oxtellar XR (oxcarbazepine) 
  • Dilantin (phenytoin)
  • Rifampin
  • St. John’s wort
  • Topamax (topiramate)

Lo Loestrin Fe and Insurance

Most health insurance companies will cover Lo Loestrin Fe, but it is a good idea to check with yours before filling your prescription.

If your insurance does not cover Lo Loestrin Fe, you may be eligible for a savings program that will let you buy your medication at a discount.

Generic Options

Lo Loestrin Fe does not currently have a generic equivalent. Other low-dose birth control pills are also available, however, such as Yaz (drospirenone and ethinyl estradiol) and Alesse (levonorgestrel and ethinyl estradiol).


Lo Loestrin Fe is a low-dose combination birth control pill. It is used to prevent pregnancy. It may also have other benefits, such as shorter, lighter periods, reduced menstrual cramps, and decreased risk of ovarian and endometrial cancer.

Lo Loestrin Fe may not be right for people with certain conditions such as liver disease or breast cancer. Side effects may include headaches, irregular bleeding, and weight changes.  

A Word From Verywell

If you have intolerable side effects on higher-dose birth control pills, you might want to talk to your healthcare provider about switching to a lower-dose contraceptive such as Lo Loestrin Fe. Many people taking this medication experience fewer side effects.

Lo Loestrin Fe isn't right for everyone, but there are many alternatives. Your healthcare provider can help you decide if a low-estrogen birth control is the right choice for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Has Lo Loestrin Fe been discontinued?

    Lo Loestrin Fe has not been discontinued. A similar product called Loestrin 24 Fe was discontinued in 2013.

  • Is weight gain a side effect of Lo Loestrin Fe?

    Some people report changes in weight after taking Lo Loestrin Fe. This is a commonly reported side effect of many hormonal contraceptives. Research into whether or not birth control causes weight gain, however, has been inconclusive. If it does happen, it may be due to fluid retention or an increase in appetite.

  • When does your period start on Lo Loestrin Fe?

    Your period should begin while taking the first or second brown pill in the pack. Most people taking Lo Loestrin Fe report shorter periods lasting two days or less. Nearly half report missing at least one period after the first year of taking this pill.

8 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Lo Loestrin Fe. Welcome to Lo Loestrin Fe.

  2. Lo Loestrin Fe. Potential side effects.

  3. Nappi R, Kaunitz A, Bitzer J. Extended regimen combined oral contraception: A review of evolving concepts and acceptance by women and clinicians. Eur J Contracept Reprod Health Care. 2016;21(2):106-15. doi:10.3109/13625187.2015.1107894.

  4. American Society of Reproductive Medicine. Noncontraceptive benefits of birth control pills.

  5. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Highlights of prescribing information: Lo Loestrin Fe norethindrone acetate and ethinyl estradiol, ethinyl estradiol and ferrous fumarate.

  6. Nappi RE, Kaunitz AM, Bitzer J. Extended regimen combined oral contraception: A review of evolving concepts and acceptance by women and clinicians. Eur J Contracept Reprod Health Care. 2016;21(2):106-15. doi:10.3109/13625187.2015.1107894

  7. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Drugs@FDA: FDA-approved drugs.

  8. Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care. Contraception: do hormonal contraceptives cause weight gain?

By Dawn Stacey, PhD, LMHC
Dawn Stacey, PhD, LMHC, is a published author, college professor, and mental health consultant with over 15 years of counseling experience.