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Why is this medication prescribed?
Progestin-only oral contraceptives are used to prevent pregnancy. Progestin is a female hormone. It works by preventing the release of eggs from the ovaries (ovulation) and changing the cervical mucus and the lining of the uterus. Progestin-only oral contraceptives are a very effective method of birth control, but they do not prevent the spread of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.
How should this medicine be used?
Progestin-only oral contraceptives come as tablets to take by mouth. They are taken once a day, every day at the same time. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take progestin-only oral contraceptives exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.
Progestin-only oral contraceptives come in packs of 28 pills. Begin the next pack the day after the last pack is finished.
It is best to start taking progestin-only oral contraceptives on the first day of your menstrual period. If you start taking progestin-only oral contraceptives on another day, use a backup method of birth control (such as a condom and/or a spermicide) for the next 48 hours. If you have had a miscarriage or an abortion, you can start taking progestin-only oral contraceptives the next day.
Progestin-only oral contraceptives are safe for use by breast-feeding mothers. If you are fully breastfeeding (not giving your baby any food or formula), you may start taking this medication 6 weeks after delivery. If you are partially breast-feeding (giving your baby some food or formula), you should start taking this medication by 3 weeks after delivery.
Before taking progestin-only oral contraceptives, ask your pharmacist or doctor for a copy of the manufacturer's information for the patient and read it carefully.
What special precautions should I follow?
Before taking progestin-only oral contraceptives,
- tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to progestins, aspirin, tartrazine (a yellow food coloring), or any other medications.
- tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking. Be sure to mention any of the following: carbamazepine (Tegretol), phenobarbital (Luminal, Solfoton), phenytoin (Dilantin), and rifampin (Rifadin). Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications or monitor you carefully for side effects.
- tell your doctor if you have or have ever had breast lumps or breast cancer, vaginal bleeding between menstrual periods, liver tumors, liver disease, or diabetes.
- tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. If you become pregnant while taking progestin-only contraceptives, call your doctor.
- tell your doctor if you use tobacco products. Cigarette smoking may increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes. You should not smoke while taking this medication.
What should I do if I forget a dose?
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember it, and go back to taking progestin-only contraceptives at your regular time. If you take a dose more than 3 hours late, be sure to use a backup method of birth control for the next 48 hours. If you are not sure what to do about the pills you have missed, keep taking progestin-only contraceptives and use a backup method of birth control until you speak to your doctor.
What side effects can this medication cause?
Progestin-only oral contraceptives may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
- irregular menstrual periods
- breast pain
- upset stomach
- increased hair growth
Some side effects can be serious. The following symptoms are uncommon, but if you experience any of them, call your doctor immediately:
- bleeding that lasts a long time
- lack of menstrual periods
- severe stomach pain
Combined estrogen and progestin oral contraceptives may increase the risk of getting breast cancer, endometrial cancer, and liver tumors. It is not known whether progestin-only oral contraceptives also increase the risks of these conditions. Talk to your doctor about the risks of taking this medication.
Progestin-only oral ontraceptives may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.
If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online (http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch) or by phone (1-800-332-1088).
- Birth-control pills