Understanding Lo Loestrin Fe: Benefits, Side Effects, and Usage Guide
Lo Loestrin Fe is an oral birth control pill that is taken by women to prevent pregnancy. It has been approved for use in women of childbearing age with a BMI of <35kg/m2 to prevent pregnancy.
Side Effects: The Good and the Bad
Like all medications, Lo Loestrin Fe has a few common side effects that you may experience while taking the medication. These include:
- Nausea (upset stomach)
- Breast tenderness
- Some irregular bleeding (some light spotting between cycles is normal)
However, unlike many medications, Lo Loestrin Fe also has some potentially positive effects while you’re taking the medication. These include the possibility of:
- Shorter periods: Most women have periods that last less than 2 days while on Lo Loestrin Fe
- Lighter periods than usual
- Less painful periods
A Typical Woman’s Hormonal Cycle
The typical woman’s menstrual cycle is 4 weeks (28 days). There are two main hormones that control this cycle, called “estrogen” and “progesterone”. Your estrogen levels get to their highest peak at week 2, and your progesterone levels peak afterwards in response to the egg being released.
Both hormones serve an important role in developing a fetus. Estrogen causes an egg to be released, whereas progesterone helps to prepare the uterus for implantation of the egg, should it become fertilized.
If you do not become pregnant by week 4 of your cycle, then comes your period. This helps to get rid of the egg and everything inside the uterus that was prepared for the pregnancy but is no longer needed. When your period ends, that’s when this process restarts.
How Does Lo Loestrin Work to Prevent Pregnancy?
Hormonal birth control pills give your body a specific, consistent amount of estrogen and progesterone every day. With this consistent amount of both hormones, there is no spike in estrogen and no egg is released. With no egg, pregnancy is not possible.
In addition, because the egg was not release there is no spike in progesterone, so the uterus does not get prepared for pregnancy. This is why periods are often shorter and less painful while on birth control, since there is less to “get rid of” during the period.
For a 28-day birth control pack, week 4 contains anywhere from 2-7 pills with no hormones, to allow your body to have a “withdrawal bleed” that mimics a typical period. During this part of your cycle you will not be able to get pregnant.
- 24 blue, round tablets that contain 10 mcg ethinyl estradiol (an estrogen) and 1 mg of norethindrone acetate (a progesterone).
- 2 white, hexagonal tablets that contain just 10 mcg ethinyl estradiol (an estrogen).
- 2 brown, round tablets containing 75 mg ferrous fumarate (iron). These pills are non-hormonal and are not involved in preventing pregnancy.
Why Lo Loestrin Fe Over Other Birth Control Pills?
With this 24/2/2 arrangement, you take 24 days of the blue estrogen and progesterone tablets, 2 days of the white estrogen tablets, and 2 days of non-hormonal brown tablets. This is different from many birth control pills, which often have a 7-day break from hormonal tablets. A 2-day break is beneficial because it, in general, decreases the length and severity of your period. The 2 brown pills contain a small amount of iron that is thought to potentially have some health benefit as compared to the “sugar pills” which are the most common hormone free pills in birth control packs.
Lo Loestrin also contains the lowest level of estrogen available in a combination birth control pill. A lower level of estrogen is beneficial because it means there is a lower likelihood you are to have side effects.
How to Use Lo Loestrin Fe
If you are on another birth control pill, finish the pack before starting Lo Loestrin Fe.
The best time to start your new pack of Lo Loestrin Fe is within the first 24 hours of starting your period. If you do this, then the birth control should take effect right away and you do not need to use a backup method of pregnancy prevention.
You can start the pack on any day of your cycle, but if it is not within 24 hours of the start of your period, you will need to use an addition method of birth control for at least 7 days.
It’s crucial that you take the tablets in order: first the blue tablets, then white, then brown. It is also important to take your pills at the same time every day.
Tip to remember to take your birth control every day
Try to start your pack at a time that you know you’ll always be able to take your tablet, such as with breakfast. Many women also set an alarm for the time they take their medication, so they don’t forget. The more consistent you are with taking your tablets on time, the more effective they will be at preventing pregnancy!
Who Should Not Take this Medication?
You should not take Lo Loestrin Fe if you’re pregnant or considering becoming pregnant. Speak to your healthcare provider before starting this medication if you have any other medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or breast cancer.
You should also speak to your healthcare provider before taking Lo Loestrin Fe if you’re taking any of the following medications:
- Barbiturates (such as phenobarbital or amobarbital)
- St. John’s wort
Is birth control effective?
Yes, birth control is very effective if taken properly. If you take your tablets exactly as instructed every day and never miss a pill, then they are 99% effective. Most people don’t take their tablets perfectly, but even with average use, they are still 91% effective.
What if I miss a blue or white (hormonal) pill?
Take your missed pill as soon as you remember, even if that means taking two pills at one time.
Can I skip the two brown pills that do not have hormones?
Yes, you can skip the two brown iron pills as they do not play any part in pregnancy prevention. As long as you remember to start your next pack of birth control on the day you regularly would, then it does not matter if you take those pills or not.
Should I still use other methods of birth control, such as condoms?
Yes! No type of hormonal birth control can protect you from sexually transmitted infections. Therefore, using additional physical protection is a great way to protect yourself from infections.
Is it still possible that I will get pregnant even if I use a birth control pill?
Yes, it is still possible to get pregnant, but it is much less likely. The more consistent you are with taking your pills at the same time every day and never forgetting to take a pill, the less likely you are to get pregnant. Adding a second method of protection, such as condoms, decreases the risk even more.
- Lo Loestrin Fe – Access data FDA-Approved Drugs [Internet]. 1968 [amended 10/2010; accessed 06/2022].
- Meet Lo Loestrin® Fe – Lo Loestrin Fe. (https://www.loloestrin.com). Accessed 2022-06-20.
- How effective is contraception at preventing pregnancy? NHS (https://www.nhs.uk). Accessed 2022-06-21.