Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo

Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo 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

Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo Overview

Reviewed: June 12, 2014
Updated: 

Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo is a prescription birth control medication used to prevent pregnancy. It can also be used to treat moderate acne in females at least 15 years old who have started to have menstrual periods. It 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 include nausea, breast tenderness, and vaginal bleeding between menstrual periods.
 
Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo does not protect against HIV infection or other sexually-transmitted diseases and is not intended for use in emergency contraception.

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Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo Cautionary Labels

precautionsprecautionsprecautionsprecautionsprecautions

Uses of Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo

Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo is a prescription birth control medication used:

  • to prevent pregnancy
  • to treat acne in females at least 15 years of age who have started having menstrual periods
 
This medication may be prescribed for other uses. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

Manufacturer

Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo Drug Class

Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo is part of the drug class:

Side Effects of Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo

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

Common side effects include:
  • nausea
  • spotting or bleeding between menstrual periods
  • headache
  • change in menstrual flow
  • swelling of the fingers or ankles
  • breast tenderness, enlargement, or secretion
  • weight changes
  • difficulty wearing contact lenses

​This is not a complete list of Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo 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 Lo 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:

  • antibiotics such as rifampin
  • antifungals such as griseofulvin, itraconazole, and ketoconazole
  • barbiturates such as phenobarbital
  • seizure medications such as phenytoin (Dilantin), carbamazepine (Tegretol), oxcarbazepine (Trileptal), topiramate (Topamax), and lamotrigine (Lamictal)
  • certain anti-HIV medications called protease inhibitors
  • St. John's Wort
  • atorvastatin (Lipitor)

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

Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo Precautions

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

  • Blood clots, heart attack and stroke - Tell your healthcare provider right away if you have some or all of the following:
    • 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 - Have your blood pressure monitored by your doctor closely if taking Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo, 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.  
  • Liver problems - Tell your healthcare provider right away if you have some or all of the following:
    • 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:
    • 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:
    • 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 Lo does not protect against HIV infection or other sexually-transmitted diseases.
 
Do not take Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo if you:
  • 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
  • are allergic to any component of Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo

Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo 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 Lo there are no specific foods that you must exclude from your diet when receiving Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo.

 

Inform MD

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

  • diabetes
  • high blood pressure
  • nodules in the breast, fibrocystic disease of the breast, or abnormal breast x-ray or mammogram
  • high blood fat or cholesterol levels
  • migraine or other headaches
  • seizures (epilepsy)
  • depression
  • gall bladder, liver, heart, or kidney disease
  • irregular menstrual periods

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

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

Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo and Lactation

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

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

Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo Usage

Take Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo exactly as prescribed.

Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo comes in a blister card and tablet dispenser containing 28 tablets: 21 "active" tablets (white, light blue, and dark blue) and 7 "reminder" tablets (dark green).  One tablet should be taken by mouth at the same time daily 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.
 
For the first cycle, another method of birth control should be used until after the first 7 days of using Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo.
 
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 Lo Dosage

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

Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo comes in a blister card containing 28 tablets as follows:
  • 7 white tablets 
  • 7 light blue tablets 
  • 7 dark 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 Lo Overdose

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

Other Requirements

  • Store Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo at room temperature between 59° and 86°F and protect it from light.
  • Keep this and all medicines out of the reach of children.

Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo FDA Warning

Cigarette smoking increases the risk of serious cardiovascular side effects from oral contraceptive use. This risk increases with age and with heavy smoking (15 or more cigarettes per day) and is quite marked in women over 35 years of age. Women who use oral contraceptives should be strongly advised not to smoke.