Generic Lybrel for Birth Control

A packet of birth control pills

Jonathan Nourok / Getty Images

Lybrel (levonorgestrel/Ethinyl estradiol) was a combination birth control pill. It was the first extended-cycle birth control pill designed to supply an active dose of hormones every day to completely stop your period for a full year.

Each pack contains 365 pills made up of 90 micrograms of levonorgestrel and 20 micrograms of Ethinylestradiol. Lybrel was approved for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on May 22, 2007.

The Lybrel brand name was discontinued in 2014 and is no longer being manufactured by Wyeth Pharmaceuticals Inc. It was replaced by a generic brand name levonorgestrel-ethinyl estradiol.

Lybrel was neither taken off the market for safety reasons nor recalled by the FDA. The decision to discontinue was purely a financial one driven by the flood of generic licenses submitted to the FDA.

Mechanism of Action

Lybrel works like any other combination birth control pill. The difference is that it is taken 365 days of the year and does not have a pill-free interval or placebo period.

As long as you take your Lybrel pill every day, you will not have your period. Lybrel does not permanently affect fertility once you stopped taking it. Research shows that 99% of women who stopped Lybrel had their periods restored within 90 days.

Withdrawal Bleeding

Women will sometimes worry if they continue to have monthly bleeding when first starting Lybrel. What is important to realize is that the bleeding is not part of your normal fertility cycle. Rather, it is considered withdrawal bleeding in which ovulation does not occur, but your body continues to undergo the process of shedding the lining of the uterus.

Advantages and Safety

Medical research has shown that Lybrel is just as safe as other combination birth control pills. The drug also has benefits over other types of birth control

One study reported that after seven to 13 pill packs, women on Lybrel reported less nausea and breast pain than those on a 21-day birth control pill. Research also showed that women who used Lybrel for three months reported less pre-menstrual and period-related pain.

Lybrel is as effective as other oral contraceptives, boasting an efficacy rate of 91% to 99.7%. With typical use, only nine of every 100 women will become pregnant during the first year of use.

With perfect use, less than one out of every 100 women will become pregnant during the first year of Lybrel use.


As with any other type of oral contraceptive, there are risks and considerations to Lybrel use. From a broader perspective, Lybrel and the generics have the same side effects as other hormonal contraceptive methods. However, the lower doses of hormones used in Lybrel may cause spotting in some women.

While Lybrel can significantly reduce the risk of pregnancy, it does not offer any protection against sexually transmitted infections.

6 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. U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. FPL for approved NDA 21-864.

  2. Davis AR, Kroll R, Soltes B, Haudiquet V, Grubb G. Return to Menses After Continuous Use of a Low-Dose Oral Contraceptive. Obstet Gynecol. 2006;107(4 suppl):3S. doi:10.1097/00006250-200604001-00007

  3. Bonnema RA, Spencer AL. The new extended-cycle levonorgestrel-ethinyl estradiol oral contraceptives. Clin Med Insights Reprod Health. 2011;5:49-54. doi:10.4137/CMRH.S5030

  4. HPV CONSENSUS GUIDELINES COMMITTEE CHAIRS, SOGC PROJECT OFFICER, HPV CONSENSUS GUIDELINES COMMITTEE. Canadian Consensus Guideline on Continuous and Extended Hormonal Contraception, 2007. J Obstet Gynaecol Can. 2007;29(7 Suppl 2):S1. doi:10.1016/S1701-2163(16)32573-7

  5. Teichmann A, Apter D, Emerich J, et al. Continuous, daily levonorgestrel/ethinyl estradiol vs. 21-day, cyclic levonorgestrel/ethinyl estradiol: efficacy, safety and bleeding in a randomized, open-label trial. Contraception. 2009;80(6):504-511. doi:10.1016/j.contraception.2009.05.128

  6. Archer DF, Jensen JT, Johnson JV, Borisute H, Grubb GS, Constantine GD. Evaluation of a continuous regimen of levonorgestrel/ethinyl estradiol: phase 3 study results. Contraception. 2006;74(6):439-445. doi:10.1016/j.contraception.2006.07.005

Additional Reading

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.