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Loestrin Fe is a combined hormonal birth control pill with an iron supplement in the inactive pills. It comes in multiple strengths.

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This page was medically reviewed by Ms Laurenmarie Cormier, Nurse Practitioner on August 02, 2022. Next review due on August 01, 2024.

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What is Loestrin Fe?

Loestrin Fe is a combined birth control pill. It’s called that because it contains two hormones, progestin and estrogen. The inactive pills also contain iron, which is where the “Fe” bit comes from. (“Fe” is the symbol for iron in the periodic table — whenever you see it in a birth control name, you’ll know the inactive pills are iron supplements.) The amount of iron isn’t enough to treat an iron deficiency, but having a little extra can be helpful during your period.

There are several types of Loestrin Fe available, so you can find a hormone strength that’s right for you. We offer Loestrin Fe 1/20, Loestrin Fe 1.5/30 and Lo Loestrin Fe.

What types of Loestrin Fe are there?

Loestrin Fe 1/20 and Loestrin Fe 1.5/30 are both combined birth control pills with 21 active pills and a week of inactive pills that contain an iron supplement. The numbers in their name represent how much of each hormone they have — Loestrin Fe 1/20 has 1mg norethindrone acetate and 20mcg (that’s micrograms) ethinyl estradiol.

There is also a low-dose version called Lo Loestrin Fe, which contains the lowest daily dose of estrogen available in hormonal birth control.

How does Loestrin Fe work?

The hormones in Loestrin Fe keep your body from going forward with its monthly plans. Normally you’d experience ovulation, which is when the ovary releases an egg. Loestrin Fe keeps this from happening — no egg means definitely no fertilized egg means no pregnancy.

Taking Loestrin Fe also changes the mucus in your cervix, making it thicker so that sperm would have a harder time getting through. Your uterine lining plays a part as well. This lining normally builds over the course of the month in anticipation of possible pregnancy (like fluffing up the pillows when you’ve got guests coming) and is dispelled during your period. When you’re taking hormonal birth control, the lining doesn’t build in the same way, so your period will probably be shorter and lighter.

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How to take Loestrin Fe

Loestrin Fe birth control pills are more effective when they are taken at the same time every day. And this is birth control we’re talking about, so effectiveness is super important. Before you start taking your pills, pick a time that’ll be easy to stick to every day of the week. So if you get up at the crack of dawn on weekdays but sleep in on weekends, first thing in the morning might not be the best choice. (We like noon, personally, but it’s up to you.) If it’s hard for you to remember your pill every day, try setting a reminder on your phone — there are even apps to help you.

When you start taking Loestrin Fe, it’s a good idea to use a back-up method like condoms for the first 7 days. This gives your body time to adjust to the pill and for its effectiveness to kick in, ensuring you’re as protected as possible.

You don’t have to take your birth control pill with food, but you might have an upset stomach when you start using it. Nausea is a common side effect of using Loestrin Fe. If you experience nausea around the time you take your pill, try having it with a small meal or snack to help settle your stomach.

Loestrin Fe 1/20 and Loestrin Fe 1.5/30 have 21 active pills you’ll take for the first three weeks followed by a week of inactive pills with an iron supplement — that’s when you’ll have your period.

How effective is Loestrin Fe?

There isn’t a 100% effective birth control method, but Loestrin Fe comes pretty close. When taken correctly, it’s around 99% effective. This means that if 100 women took Loestrin Fe daily for a year, less than 1 woman would become pregnant.

By taking birth control correctly, we mean at the same time every day and as directed on the accompanying package insert. Correct use of birth control is how it’s done in clinical trials. But in day-to-day life, you’re more likely to take your pill “typically.”

Typical use considers things like taking your pill late or occasionally missing a pill. This lowers the effectiveness and your chances of being pregnant increase, so it’s important to stick to the routine as well as possible. If you’re finding yourself regularly forgetting pills, a non-daily method like the patch or ring might be better for you.

What happens if I miss a pill?

Missed pills can happen from time to time. Don’t panic — just get back on track as soon as possible.

If you miss one Loestrin Fe pill, take it as soon as you remember. This could mean taking two in one day. After that, take one pill a day like normal.

If you miss two active pills in Week 1 or Week 2, take two pills a day for the next two days. After that, take one pill a day like normal. We recommend using a back-up birth control like condoms for a week to make sure you’re adequately protected.

If you miss two consecutive active pills in Week 3 (or if you miss three active pills in a row during any week), throw your pack away and start a new one that day. (If you’re a Sunday Starter, keep taking a pill each day until you reach Sunday and then start a new pack.)

When you miss a pill, the hormone levels in your body change and you might not get your period that month. If you don’t get your period the following month, though, you should take a pregnancy test.

Medically reviewed by
Ms Laurenmarie Cormier
Nurse Practitioner
on August 02, 2022.
Meet Laurenmarie  
This page was medically reviewed by Ms Laurenmarie Cormier, Nurse Practitioner on August 02, 2022. Next review due on August 01, 2024.

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When we present you with stats, data, opinion or a consensus, we’ll tell you where this came from. And we’ll only present data as clinically reliable if it’s come from a reputable source, such as a state or government-funded health body, a peer-reviewed medical journal, or a recognised analytics or data body. Read more in our editorial policy.

Loestrin Fe: FAQ

Have something specific you want to know? Search our info below, or ask our experts a question if you can’t find what you’re looking for.

Does Loestrin Fe cause weight gain?

While we’ve all heard about weight gain associated with the pill, there haven’t been any scientific studies that were able to prove a connection. That’s because there are so many different elements that go into how much we weigh, and weight fluctuates a little every day.

There are two things that hormonal birth control can do that look like weight changes from the outside. Some pills can cause water retention, aka bloating — you’ve probably experienced this already during your cycle, and know what it’s like. Birth control pills can also impact your appetite, which might ultimately change your weight. The important thing to remember is that weight doesn’t magically appear or disappear. If you’re experiencing an uncomfortable amount of bloating with your birth control or noticing that it’s impacting your appetite, it might be time to try a different prescription. We’re here to help.

Does Loestrin Fe help with acne?

Loestrin Fe can help with acne. The hormones in birth control like Loestrin Fe decrease how much oil your skin produces, which can help control acne. There are even several birth control pills which are FDA-approved to treat acne in addition to preventing pregnancy. If you have issues with acne and you’d like your birth control to help, let the doctor know during your consultation so they can recommend the best option for all of your needs.

Does Loestrin Fe stop your period?

Loestrin Fe can stop your period, but it’s not a guarantee. It’s likely you’ll have a shorter and lighter period while taking hormonal birth control, but it won’t necessarily stop. There are some forms of birth control that are more effective at stopping periods than others — let the doctor know during your consultation if you experience heavy periods you’d like help with or if you’re looking to stop having your period.

Is Loestrin Fe generic?

No, Loestrin Fe is not a generic birth control. However, there are generic versions of it, which means they have the same active ingredients in the same quantities:

  • Aurovela Fe 1/20, 1.5/30

  • Blisovi Fe 1/20, 1.5/30

  • Gildess Fe 1/20, 1.5/30

  • Hailey Fe 1/20, 1.5/30

  • Junel Fe 1/20, 1.5/30

  • Microgestin Fe 1/20, 1.5/30

  • Larin Fe 1/20, 1.5/30

What are the Loestrin Fe dosages?

There are two types of Loestrin Fe, and the doctor will be able to further explain the differences and give you a tailored recommendation. Here are the basics, though.

Loestrin Fe 1/20 is a combined pill with a low estrogen content. It has 21 active tablets, which contain hormones, and 7 inactive ones, which contain iron. The active pills each have 1mg norethindrone acetate (a progestin) and 20mcg ethinyl estradiol (an estrogen). An mcg is a microgram, or 1/1000th of a milligram. It’s a really, really small amount.

Loestrin Fe 1.5/30 is the same thing but with slightly more of each active ingredient: 1.5mg of norethindrone acetate and 30mcg of ethinyl estradiol. You’ll take 21 pills with hormones and then 7 pills with an iron supplement.

What about Lo Loestrin Fe?

Lo Loestrin Fe is the lowest daily dose of estrogen available, period. It’s got a unique 24-2-2 format. The first 24 pills are active pills with 1mg norethindrone acetate and 10mcg ethinyl estradiol. Then, the next two pills are also active but only contain the 10mcg of ethinyl estradiol. They have a different shape from the first 24 pills so you’ll be able to tell them apart. Finally, the last two are inactive pills with an iron supplement.

If you want a lower-estrogen option to Loestrin Fe, Lo Loestrin Fe is a great choice.

Loestrin Fe 1/20 vs Blisovi 24 Fe: which is better?

Blisovi 24 Fe is a generic version of Loestrin 24 Fe, which has been discontinued. Loestrin Fe 1/20 and Blisovi 24 Fe have the same amount of hormones in the active pills: 1mg of norethindrone acetate and 20mcg of ethinyl estradiol. The difference is that Loestrin Fe 1/20 has 21 active pills and 7 inactive pills, and Blisovi 24 Fe has 24 active pills and 4 inactive pills.

Everyone responds to hormones differently, but it’s thought that 24-day birth control pills lead to fewer hormone fluctuations. If you have questions about what strength or pack type of birth control to choose, the doctor you’ll speak to during your Treated consultation will be able to give you advice.

What are the alternatives to Loestrin Fe?

There are a lot of different birth control options available that are similar to Loestrin Fe. Generic versions of Loestrin Fe 1/20 and Loestrin Fe 1.5/30 include Aurovela Fe, Blisovi Fe, Gildess Fe, Hailey Fe, Junel Fe, Microgestin Fe and Larin Fe.

Generic versions of the discontinued Loestrin 24 Fe include Larin 24 Fe, Aurovela 24 Fe, Gildess 24 Fe and Blisovi 24 Fe.

Is there an alternative to Lo Loestrin Fe?

Lo Loestrin Fe is the lowest daily dose of estrogen currently available, so there is nothing exactly like it. If you are OK taking a slightly higher dose of estrogen, Loestrin Fe 1/20 is a possible alternative. Lo Loestrin Fe has 10mcg of estrogen in the active tablets and Loestrin Fe 1/20 has 20mcg.

Another option is not a pill at all, but a vaginal ring. NuvaRing comes with a slightly different hormonal makeup, containing etonogestrel instead of norethindrone acetate, but releases 15mcg of ethinyl estradiol every 24 hours.

You can also skip the estrogen entirely and try a mini pill, which is a progestin-only birth control pill.

Why should I buy Loestrin Fe with Treated?

Our process is simple, convenient and centered around your health. And refills? They’re part of your Treated subscription, so you don’t have to worry about running out. At Treated, you’ll be able to consult with a doctor who will evaluate your medical history as well as what you’re looking for in a birth control and suggest options that would meet your needs but also be safe for you to take. While hormonal birth control is safe, generally, not all of it may be safe for you, specifically — that’s why it’s important to get help from an expert.

If you start a Treated birth control subscription, we’ll check in with you after a year just to make sure the medication is still working for you. However, we’re always available by chat so you can ask any questions you have, discuss side effects and even switch to a different medication if you’re having any issues with your birth control.
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