Is Yaz the Right Birth Control Option for You?

Yaz is a combination birth control pill that contains a synthetic estrogen (ethinyl estradiol) and a progestin (drospirenone). When used daily, Yaz can reduce the likelihood of pregnancy by more than 99%.

The drug costs anywhere from $15 to $80 per pack and is available as a generic under such names as Gianvi and Loryn. Medicaid and private insurance plans will often cover the cost of monthly treatment.

Close-Up Of Blister Pack On Table
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How to Take Yaz

Yaz comes in a blister pack of 28 pills: The 24 light pink pills containing the active hormones and four white pills are placebos. Yaz is taken once daily with or without food. It should be taken at the same time every day, preferably after the evening meal or at bedtime.

The pills can be started in one of two ways:

  • Method 1: Take the first pill on the Sunday immediately following the start of your period even if you're still bleeding. If your period starts on a Sunday, take your first pill then. Be sure to use a backup method of contraception, such as a condom, until you have taken seven pills.
  • Method 2: Take your first pill during the first 24 hours of the start of your period. With this method, you do not need to use a backup method as the pill is effective from the first dose.

If you experience stomach upset after taking Yaz, try taking it with food or your evening meal.

Benefits of Use

In addition to its contraceptive benefits, combination birth control pills like Yaz can provide protection against a number of related and non-related conditions, such as:

  • Ovarian cancer
  • Endometrial cancer
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Benign cysts in the breast
  • Certain ovarian cysts
  • Vaginal dryness and painful intercourse
  • Osteoporosis
  • Excessive body hair (hirsutism)

Non-Contraceptive Uses

In addition to preventing pregnancy, Yaz has a number of non-contraceptive uses. Chief among these is the treatment of a severe form of PMS known as premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).

PMDD is a distressing condition that affects as many as one of every 20 women. The combined use of ethinyl estradiol and drospirenone appears to be more effective against PMDD than other types of oral contraceptive.

Yaz is also able to treat moderate acne by blocking the male hormones that cause acne breakouts. If you decide to take an oral contraceptive, have started menstruating, and are least 14 years old, Yaz may offer dual benefits in preventing pregnancy and clearing up acne-prone skin.

Side Effects

Side effects of Yaz are typically mild to moderate and tend to resolve within two to three months as your body begins to adjust to the hormones. The most common side effects are:

  • Stomach upset
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Breast tenderness
  • Spotting or bleeding between periods
  • Headaches

Less commonly, Yaz may also cause:

  • Bloating
  • Fluid retention
  • Dark patches of skin (melasma)
  • Reduced libido
  • High blood sugar (typically in people with diabetes)
  • Increased cholesterol and triglycerides
  • Depression (typically in those with a history of depression)


Drospirenone can increase blood potassium levels and should not be used if you have a kidney, liver, or adrenal disorder. Potassium is a dietary mineral critical to the function of nerve and muscle cells, including those of the heart and circulatory system.

As such, Yaz should not be used by people with:

  • A history of a heart attack, deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, or retinal thrombosis
  • Uncontrolled high blood pressure
  • Diabetes-related kidney, eye, nerve, or circulatory disorders
  • A history of breast cancer, cervical cancer, ovarian cancer, and any other cancer influenced by hormones
  • Abnormal uterine bleeding
  • Cirrhosis
  • Migraines with aura

Drug Interactions

The combined use of Yaz and certain medications can lead to excessively high levels of potassium, known as hyperkalemia. Symptoms of hyperkalemia range from vomiting and heart palpitations to chest pains and respiratory distress.

To avoid this, doctors will need to closely monitor potassium levels for at least the first month of treatment if you take any of the following chronic medications:

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Article Sources
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  1. Bayer Inc. Product monograph part III: Yaz Plus. Updated March 2, 2017.

  2. Schindler AE. Non-contraceptive benefits of oral hormonal contraceptives. Int J Endocrinol Metab. 2013;11(1):41-7. doi:10.5812/ijem.4158

Additional Reading
  • U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Yaz (Drospirenone/Ethinyl Estradiol) for Oral Contraception and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder. Silver Spring, Maryland; updated September 22, 2011.