What Does the Levonorgestrel and Ethinyl Estradiol Combination Pill Do: Uses, Side Effects, Etc.

Nishi Kashyap
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Dr. Kaushal

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levonorgestrel and ethinyl estradiol

Levonorgestrel and Ethinyl Estradiol is a common contraceptive pill used by millions worldwide. 

These are two hormones commonly found in combined oral contraceptives. 

Levonorgestrel is a Progestin, while Ethinyl Estradiol is an Estrogen. 

These synthetic hormones are used in combination to prevent pregnancy.

In addition to offering effective birth control, these combination hormonal contraceptive pills provide other benefits, too.

This article shares essential information about how Levonorgestrel-Ethinyl Estradiol pills work, their potential side effects, and more.

How does Levonorgestrel and Ethinyl Estradiol work

Before learning about the benefits or uses of this medication, you should understand how they function.

Levonorgestrel-Ethinyl Estradiol works by inhibiting ovulation, the release of an egg from the ovary. 

They also alter the cervical mucus consistency, making it hard for sperm to reach the egg. 

Additionally, these hormones change the uterine lining, making it less receptive to implantation.

You can also read How Do Birth Control Pills Work to learn about their mechanism.

Levonorgestrel and Ethinyl Estradiol uses and benefits

Negative pregnancy testsSource: Elizabeth_Melusky_from_Getty_Images
Woman holding a pregnancy tests

These medications are primarily used as contraceptives to prevent pregnancy. 

These contraceptives offer numerous benefits beyond preventing pregnancy. 

Additionally, they may help reduce menstrual blood loss and pain and regulate the menstrual cycle.

Some of the uses of these medications include:

  • Preventing pregnancy
  • Making periods more regular
  • Decreasing blood loss and painful periods
  • Decreasing the risk of ovarian cysts
  • Treating acne
Fact:
In the United States, about 12% of women aged 15-49 use combination pills, some of which contain Levonorgestrel-Ethinyl Estradiol.

Levonorgestrel and Ethinyl Estradiol side effects

Like any medication, Ethinyl Estradiol and Levonorgestrel may cause side effects in some individuals.

Common side effects

menstrual cycles in womenSource: Mehaniq
Irregular menstrual cycle

The common potential side effects of these medications include:

  • Vomiting and nausea, especially when first starting the medication
  • Breast tenderness
  • Acne and darkening of facial skin
  • Weight gain
  • Changes in menstrual periods
  • Problems with contact lenses

These are not exhaustive lists, and other side effects may occur.

Serious/rare side effects

Some of the serious but rare side effects of Levonorgestrel and Ethinyl Estradiol may include:

  • Blood clots, which can lead to stroke, Pulmonary Embolism, Deep Vein Thrombosis, or heart attack
  • High blood pressure
  • Liver problems
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Allergic reactions

Before using these medications, it’s important to know these potentially serious side effects and discuss any concerns with a doctor.

You can also find out about the benefits and considerations of all types of birth control pills.

Warning:
Do not take Levonorgestrel-Ethinyl Estradiol if you are breastfeeding. It may decrease milk production in nursing mothers.

Levonorgestrel-Ethinyl Estradiol precautions and warnings

Discuss any existing medical conditions and current medications with a physician before using these medications. 

Some precautions and warnings for them include:

  • They may interact with certain medications, such as some antibiotics and anticonvulsants, potentially reducing their effectiveness
  • These medications may enhance the risk of blood clots, stroke, and heart attack, especially in women over 35 who smoke or have other risk factors
  • Women who experience severe headaches, vision changes, or other symptoms while taking these medications should seek medical attention immediately
  • These medications may cause blotchy, dark areas on the face and skin (Melasma), and sunlight may worsen this effect
  • Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not use these medications

Interactions with Levonorgestrel and Ethinyl Estradiol tablets

It’s essential to inform doctors about all medications being taken to ensure safety and efficacy.

Levonorgestrel-Ethinyl Estradiol may interact with various medications, potentially reducing their effectiveness, including

  • Aromatase inhibitors (such as Anastrozole and Exemestane)
  • Fezolinetant
  • Ospemifene
  • Tamoxifen
  • Tizanidine

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Levonorgestrel and Ethinyl Estradiol information on dosage

The recommended dosage of these tablets can vary based on the specific product. 

There are hormonal and inert medications in the pack of Levonorgestrel and Ethinyl Estradiol tablets. 

You are supposed to take the hormonal ones for 84 or 21 days, depending on your doctor’s prescription and the strength of the medication.

This is to be followed by seven days of inert tablets. 

They are taken during the week when the user would normally have their period. 

This practice helps to keep the user in the habit of taking a pill every day, even during the week when they are not taking active pills.

Take this medicine as per your doctor’s advice. 

However, take it at the same time each day to ensure consistent medicine levels in your body. 

Missed dose

If you miss a dose of Ethinyl Estradiol-Levonorgestrel, follow these guidelines:

  • If you miss one active pill: Take it as soon as possible, then take your next pill at your regular schedule on the next day
  • If you miss two active pills in the 1st or 2nd week: Consume the last pill you missed immediately (you may take two pills in one day) and take two pills the next day. Continue with the remaining of the pack, as usual
  • If you miss two active pills in week 3 or 4: Discard the pack and start using a new pack, or take one tablet daily till Sunday and then discard and start a new one

It’s vital to follow the specific instructions provided with your medication and consult a doctor for personalized guidance on dosage and administration.

If you are considering buying birth control for the first time, reading about ‘How to Get Birth Control’ would help you.

Conclusion

Levonorgestrel and Ethinyl Estradiol are widely used hormonal contraceptives that offer effective birth control and other benefits. 

It contains synthetic hormones, Progestin and Estrogen. 

It inhibits pregnancy by suppressing ovulation, thickening cervical mucus, and altering the endometrial lining. 

Levonorgestrel-Ethinyl Estradiol also offers other benefits like reducing menstrual blood loss, treating acne, and regulating the menstrual cycle. 

While they are generally safe and effective, knowing their potential side effects and interactions and how to use them correctly is crucial. 

It may cause side effects like nausea, breast tenderness, weight gain, and changes in menstrual periods. 

Women should consult their doctor to determine if this medication suits them. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What does Levonorgestrel and Ethinyl Estradiol do?

Levonorgestrel and Ethinyl Estradiol are synthetic hormones used in combination to prevent pregnancy. They work by suppressing ovulation, thickening cervical mucus to impede sperm movement, and thinning the uterine lining to deter implantation if fertilization occurs.

Are Levonorgestrel and Ethinyl Estradiol safe?

Levonorgestrel and Ethinyl Estradiol are generally considered safe and effective for preventing pregnancy and regulating the menstrual cycle. However, like all medications, they may have potential side effects and interactions with other drugs. It’s important to discuss any existing medical conditions and current medications with a physician before using them.

Do you get your period on Levonorgestrel and Ethinyl Estradiol?

Levonorgestrel and Ethinyl Estradiol may affect menstrual periods. Women may experience changes in their menstrual cycle, such as lighter or heavier bleeding, spotting, or missed periods. Some women may also experience fewer periods or no periods at all while taking these medications, especially with extended-cycle regimens.

Can Levonorgestrel and Ethinyl Estradiol be used as emergency contraception?

Yes, Levonorgestrel and Ethinyl Estradiol can be used as emergency contraception if taken within 72 hours after unprotected sex. They are effective in preventing pregnancy when used as directed. It’s crucial to follow the specific dosing instructions for emergency contraception to maximize their effectiveness.

Citations:
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