Ortho Tri-Cyclen

Ortho Tri-Cyclen prevents pregnancy. Many medications, including some antibiotics and supplements, can cause it to not work. Ask your pharmacist or doctor before taking any other medications.

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Pharmacist Steve Lozano, PharmD summarizes the uses, common side effects, and warnings for the Contraceptives class of medications
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Pharmacist Steve Lozano, PharmD summarizes the uses, common side effects, and warnings for the Contraceptives class of medications
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Pharmacist Steve Lozano, PharmD summarizes the uses, common side effects, and warnings for the Contraceptives class of medications

Ortho Tri-Cyclen Overview

Reviewed: June 12, 2014
Updated: 

Ortho Tri-Cyclen is a prescription oral contraceptive used to prevent pregnancy. Oral contraceptives are also known as "birth control pills."

Ortho Tri-Cyclen can also be used to treat moderate acne in females at least 15 years old who have started to have menstrual periods.

Ortho Tri-Cyclen does not protect against HIV infection or other sexually-transmitted diseases and is not intended for use in emergency contraception.

Ortho Tri-Cyclen contains two hormones, norgestimate and ethinyl estradiol, which belong to a group of drugs called hormonal contraceptives. These hormones prevent pregnancy by stopping ovulation and by altering cervical mucus and the lining of the uterus.

This medication comes in tablet form. It is taken once daily, with or without food.

Common side effects of Ortho Tri-Cyclen include nausea, breast tenderness, and vaginal bleeding between menstrual periods.

Ortho Tri-Cyclen may cause dizziness and blurred vision. Do not drive or operate heavy machinery until you know how Ortho Tri-Cyclen affects you.

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Ortho Tri-Cyclen Cautionary Labels

precautionsprecautionsprecautionsprecautionsprecautions

Uses of Ortho Tri-Cyclen

Ortho Tri-Cyclen is a prescription oral contraceptive used to prevent pregnancy. Oral contraceptives are also known as "birth control pills."

Ortho Tri-Cyclen can also be used to treat moderate acne in females at least 15 years old who have started to have menstrual periods.

Ortho Tri-Cyclen does not protect against HIV infection or other sexually-transmitted diseases and is not intended for use in emergency contraception.

This medication may be prescribed for other uses. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

Manufacturer

Ortho Tri-Cyclen Drug Class

Ortho Tri-Cyclen is part of the drug class:

Side Effects of Ortho Tri-Cyclen

Serious side effects have been reported with Ortho Tri-Cyclen. See the "Ortho Tri-Cyclen Precautions" section.

Common side effects of Ortho Tri-Cyclen include:
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • constipation
  • gingivitis
  • changes in appetite
  • brown or black patches on skin
  • acne
  • unusual hair growth
  • spotting or bleeding between menstrual periods
  • changes in menstrual flow
  • painful or missed periods
  • swelling of the fingers or ankles
  • breast tenderness, enlargement, or discharge
  • vaginal discharge
  • swelling or irritation of the vagina
  • weight changes
  • difficulty wearing contact lenses

​This is not a complete list of Ortho Tri-Cyclen side effects. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Ortho Tri-Cyclen Interactions

Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. Especially tell your doctor if you take:

  • acetaminophen (APAP, Tylenol)
  • antibiotics such as ampicillin (Principen), clarithromycin (Biaxin), erythromycin (E.E.S., E-Mycin, Erythrocin), isoniazid (INH, Nydrazid), metronidazole (Flagyl),minocycline (Dynacin, Minocin), rifabutin (Mycobutin), rifampin (Rifadin, Rimactane), and tetracycline (Sumycin)
  • anticoagulants ('blood thinners') such as warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven)
  • antifungals such as griseofulvin (Fulvicin, Grifulvin, Grisactin), fluconazole (Diflucan), itraconazole (Sporanox), and ketoconazole (Nizoral)
  • atorvastatin (Lipitor)
  • clofibrate (Atromid-S)
  • cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune)
  • bosentan (Tracleer)
  • cimetidine (Tagamet)
  • danazol (Danocrine)
  • delavirdine (Rescriptor)
  • diltiazem (Cardizem, Dilacor, Tiazac)
  • fluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem, in Symbyax)
  • HIV protease inhibitors such as indinavir (Crixivan) and ritonavir (Norvir)
  • medications for seizures such as carbamazepine (Tegretol), felbamate (Felbatol), lamotrigine (Lamictal), oxcarbazepine (Trileptal), phenobarbital (Luminal, Solfoton), phenytoin (Dilantin), primidone (Mysoline), and topiramate (Topamax)
  • modafinil (Provigil)
  • morphine (Kadian, MS Contin, MSIR, others)
  • nefazodone
  • rifampin (Rimactane, in Rifadin, in Rifater)
  • oral steroids such as dexamethasone (Decadron, Dexone), methylprednisolone (Medrol), prednisone (Deltasone), and prednisolone (Prelone)
  • temazepam (Restoril)
  • theophylline (Theobid, Theo-Dur)
  • thyroid medication such as levothyroxine (Levothroid, Levoxyl, Synthroid)
  • verapamil (Calan, Covera, Isoptin, Verelan)
  • vitamin C
  • zafirlukast (Accolate)
  • St. John's Wort

This is not a complete list of Ortho Tri-Cyclen interactions. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

Ortho Tri-Cyclen Precautions

Serious side effects have been reported with Ortho Tri-Cyclen including:

  • Blood clots, heart attack and stroke.Tell your healthcare provider right away if you have some or all of the following symptoms:
    • shortness of breath
    • sharp or crushing chest pain
    • weakness or numbness in an arm or leg
    • slurring of speech
    • coughing of blood
    • pain in the calf
    • sudden severe headache or vomiting
    • dizziness or fainting
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure). Have your blood pressure monitored by your doctor closely if taking Ortho Tri-Cyclen, especially if you have a history of hypertension or are taking medications to treat hypertension.
  • Lipid disorders. Women who are being treated for hyperlipidemia (high blood fat/cholesterol) should be monitored closely, as steroids can elevate lipid levels.
  • Breast, ovarian, or uterine cancer. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you detect a lump in the breast or experience new abdominal pain.
  • Liver problems. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you have some or all of the following symptoms:
    • severe pain or tenderness in the stomach area
    • yellowing of the skin or eyeballs
  • Severe depression. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you have some or all of the following symptoms:
    • difficulty sleeping
    • weakness, lack of energy, fatigue
    • change in mood
  • Eye conditions.Tell your healthcare provider right away if you have some or all of the following symptoms:
    • unexplained partial or complete loss of vision
    • double vision
    • bulging of the eyes
  • Severe migraine headaches. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you experience recurrent or persistent headaches.

Ortho Tri-Cyclen does not protect against HIV infection or other sexually-transmitted diseases.

Do not take Ortho Tri-Cyclen if you:

  • are allergic to Ortho Tri-Cyclen or to any of its ingredients
  • have a history of heart attack or stroke
  • have blood clots in the legs, lungs, or eyes
  • have a history of blood clots in the deep veins of your legs
  • have chest pain (angina pectoris)
  • have or have had cerebral vascular or coronary artery disease
  • have disease of the heart valves with complications
  • have severe hypertension (very high blood pressure)
  • have diabetes with blood vessel involvement
  • have headaches with focal neurological symptoms (movement disorders affecting a specific region of the body, such as the left arm or right leg)
  • have had a major surgery requiring a long period of inactivity
  • have, may have, or have had cancer of the breast
  • have cancer of the lining of the uterus or other estrogen-dependent cancer
  • have undiagnosed abnormal genital bleeding
  • have jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes)
  • have liver disease with abnormal liver function
  • have tumors of the liver
  • are or may be pregnant

Ortho Tri-Cyclen Food Interactions

Medicines can interact with certain foods. In some cases, this may be harmful and your doctor may advise you to avoid certain foods. In the case of Ortho Tri-Cyclen, there are no specific foods that you must exclude from your diet while taking this medication.

Inform MD

Before taking Ortho Tri-Cyclen, tell your doctor about all of your medical conditions. Especially tell your doctor if you:

  • have or have ever had blood clots in your legs, lungs, or eyes
  • have thrombophilia (condition in which the blood clots easily)
  • have coronary artery disease (clogged blood vessels leading to the heart)
  • have cerebrovascular disease (clogging or weakening of the blood vessels within the brain or leading to the brain)
  • have had a stroke or mini-stroke
  • have an irregular heartbeat
  • have had a heart attack
  • have had chest pain
  • have diabetes
  • have severe or migraine headaches
  • have high blood pressure
  • have breast cancer or have ever had problems with your breasts or have a family history of breast cancer
  • have cancer of the lining of the uterus, cervix, or vagina
  • have liver cancer, liver tumors, or other types of liver disease
  • have yellowing of the skin or eyes during pregnancy or while you were using hormonal contraceptives (birth control pills, patches, rings, implants, or injections)
  • have unexplained abnormal vaginal bleeding
  • have adrenal insufficiency (condition in which the body does not produce enough of certain natural substances needed for important functions such as blood pressure)
  • have kidney disease
  • have recently had surgery or have been unable to move around for any reason.
  • have high blood cholesterol or fats
  • have asthma
  • have had toxemia (high blood pressure during pregnancy)
  • have or have had seizures
  • have or have had depression
  • have gallbladder disease
  • have jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes)
  • experience excessive weight gain and fluid retention (bloating) during the menstrual cycle

Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

Ortho Tri-Cyclen and Pregnancy

Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.

The FDA categorizes medications based on safety for use during pregnancy. Five categories - A, B, C, D, and X - are used to classify the possible risks to an unborn baby when a medication is taken during pregnancy.

Ortho Tri-Cyclen falls into category X. This medication should not be used during pregnancy as it has the potential to cause miscarriage.

Ortho Tri-Cyclen and Lactation

Tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed.

You should not take Ortho Tri-Cyclen if you are breastfeeding. It may be excreted in your breast milk and may harm your nursing child.

Ortho Tri-Cyclen Usage

Take Ortho Tri-Cyclen exactly as prescribed.

Ortho Tri-Cyclen comes in a blister card and tablet dispenser containing 28 tablets: 21 "active" tablets (white, light blue, and blue) and 7 "reminder" tablets (dark green). One tablet should be taken by mouth at the same time daily. It can be taken with or without food. The tablets are taken in the order shown on the packaging, starting with the first white pill on the first day of menstruation. When all 28 tablets have been taken, a new package should be started the following day.

When starting Ortho Tri-Cyclen, use another method of birth control for at least the first 7 days of using Ortho Tri-Cyclen.

If you miss an active tablet during weeks 1, 2, or 3, the tablet should be taken as soon as you remember. If you miss 2 active tablets in a row during week 1 or week 2, you should take 2 tablets the day you remember and 2 tablets the next day, and then continue taking one tablet daily. If you miss 2 active tablets in a row during week 3 or miss 3 or more active tablets in a row, you should throw away the rest of the pack and start a new pack that same day. You should use a back-up method of birth control if you have sex in the 7 days after missing a dose.

If you miss any of the 7 reminder tablets during week 4, throw away the pill you missed and continue taking 1 pill each day until the pack is empty.

Ortho Tri-Cyclen Dosage

Take Ortho Tri-Cyclen exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully.

Ortho Tri-Cyclen comes in a blister card containing 28 tablets:

  • 7 white tablets 
  • 7 light blue tablets 
  • 7 blue tablets 
  • 7 green tablets containing no active drug

One tablet should be taken by mouth at the same time each day in the order indicated on the packaging.

Ortho Tri-Cyclen Overdose

If you take too much Ortho Tri-Cyclen, call your healthcare provider or local Poison Control Center or seek emergency medical attention right away.

If Ortho Tri-Cyclen is administred by a healthcare provider in a medical setting, it is unlikely that an overdose will occur. However, if overdose is suspected, seek emergency medical attention.

Other Requirements

  • Store Orthho Tri-Cyclen at room temperature between 59° and 86°F (15° and 30°C).
  • Protect this medication from light.
  • Keep this and all medicines out of the reach of children.

Ortho Tri-Cyclen FDA Warning

Warnings: Cardiovascular Risk Associated with Smoking

Cigarette smoking increases the risk of serious cardiovascular events from combination oral contraceptive use. This risk increases with age, particularly in women over 35 years of age, and with the number of cigarettes smoked. For this reason, combination oral contraceptives, including ORTHO TRI-CYCLEN, should not be used by women who are over 35 years of age and smoke.