Lo Loestrin Fe Birth Control Pill

Benefits and Risks of the Ultra-Low-Dose Pill

Loestrin
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 that it offers you effective contraception with the lowest estrogen dose possible.

Prior to 2013, there was a wide variety of Lo Loestrin Fe formulations. In response, the manufacturer, Allegan, rebranded all other formulations as Minastrin. This eliminates some of the confusion as there is now only one product using the Lo Loestrin Fe name.

A first generic formulation was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2016, reducing the average retail price to around $150 per month.

Dosage

Lo Loestrin Fe is considered is an ultra-low-dose hormonal contraceptive (or "mini-pill") as it contains only 10 micrograms (mcg) of estrogen.

Lo Loestrin Fe is categorized as a mini extended cycle pill because it contains more pills than typical 28-day packs. Each Lo Loestrin Fe pack contains 30 pills. For 26 days, you would ake the combination estrogen and progestin pills. This is followed by two days of estrogen-only pills and two more days of placebo pills.

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

Lo Loestrin Fe offers an efficacy of 92 percent to 99.7 percent, comparable other popularly prescribed oral contraceptives. With typical use, three of every 100 women will get pregnant within a year of use, according to the manufacturer.

Side Effects

The most common side effects of Lo Loestrin Fe use are nausea, vomiting, headaches, and bleeding irregularities. In premarket clinical research, around 4 percent of women also reported changes in weight. Moodiness and irritability also occurred, albeit less commonly.

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.

Contraindications

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

Lo Loestrin Fe is contraindicated for use in women with liver disease, breast cancer, and other estrogen- or progesterone-sensitive cancers. It is also avoided in women at high risk of thrombotic diseases such as thrombotic stroke, heart attack, and deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

The effectiveness of the pill has not been studied in women with a body mass index (BMI) greater than 35. You should discuss your birth control options with your healthcare provider if you are overweight or obese.

Non-Contraceptive Benefits

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

Choosing the Right Contraceptive
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