Loestrin is a birth control pill marketed in the UK by Galen Pharmaceuticals. It works by reproducing the effect of regulatory hormones in the body.
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Loestrin 20 contains 1mg of norethisterone and 0.02mg of ethinylestradiol, and may be prescribed if you are sensitive to higher doses of the hormones contained in it.
Loestrin 30 consists of 1.5mg norethisterone and 0.03mg ethinylestradiol. It is a 21-day birth control pill.
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Loestrin is a combined oral birth control medication, which is licensed for sale in the UK by a company called Galen Pharmaceuticals. The functioning constituents in the drug are synthesised hormones, designed to work in the same way as natural hormones, oestrogen and progesterone.
- Can be bought in two strengths
- Stops 99% of pregnancies
- Easy one a day pill
It is these hormones which regulate when the body gets itself ready for pregnancy. As their levels fall, ovulation begins. This is the process by which an egg (or ova) is generated by the ovary, and freed into the fallopian tube. It then journeys along to the uterus, during which time it is ready to be inseminated by male sperm.
The hormones also manage the development of the uterine wall lining (endometrium) each month. When the lining is thick, it is ready to receive a fertilised egg and allow it to implant. Another function the hormones perform is to determine the thickness of vaginal fluid; the lighter this mucus is, the easier it is for sperm to travel through it and reach an egg.
In Loestrin, the ingredients norethisterone and ethinylestradiol supplement the levels of these hormones when they are about to naturally fall, and allow for the above processes to occur. The presence of these man-made hormones thereby convinces the body that ovulation has already occurred.
This prevents an egg from being produced, and also alters the quality of the uterine wall lining so that it cannot receive an egg. Cervical fluid is also thickened, so that sperm cannot pass through and fertilise an egg as easily. Pregnancy is rendered less likely as a result.
Loestrin is available in two different strengths. Those who are more sensitive to the hormone oestrogen may be advised to opt for the weaker version, as it poses a lower risk of causing side effects. Those who are not over-sensitive to this hormone may choose the stronger version to relieve hormonal symptoms such as acne or heavy menstrual bleeding.
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How to use Loestrin
In order to make sure that your pill is as effective as possible and to reduce the risk of side effects, you should follow the instructions your doctor has provided, and read the patient information leaflet fully prior to first use.
- Administer as prescribed.
- This will be one tablet per day for the first 21 consecutive days of your menstrual cycle.
- Follow this with a seven day rest period.
- Swallow your pill whole with water. Do not chew it or break it before consumption.
- The packet is marked with arrows and days of the week for your convenience. Follow these to help you keep track of your treatment schedule.
- Repeat the process the following month and so on.
- Guidance on the best time to start the pill can be located in the leaflet supplied.
- If you miss a pill, refer to the leaflet for specific advice on what you should do next, and if you are still unsure, contact your doctor or family planning nurse and ask them.
These directions are not a substitute for those supplied with the product. Read these fully before taking this pill.
Loestrin side effects
The presence of some side effects may require that you seek help from a medical professional. If you experience any signs of a blood clot, heart attack, stroke, breast or cervical cancer, allergic reaction or serious liver disease, go to your nearest hospital immediately. The patient information leaflet expands on what these signs may look like.
Infection of the vagina, increased blood pressure, mood swings, feeling or being sick, stomach cramps, weight fluctuation, jaundice, headaches, breast pain or tenderness, changes in libido, reduced tolerance to contact lenses, or decreased ability to process carbohydrates.
The information provided here is not comprehensive. A more detailed index of side effects can be found in the patient information leaflet supplied with the product.
Taking it with other medicines
Let your doctor know if you are currently using any other treatments, as this drug may interact with the following: medications for epilepsy such as carbamazepine, phenobarbital, phenytoin or primidone; ampicillin, griseofulvin or rifampicin; atorvastatin; paracetamol; ciclosporin; prednisolone; or theophylline.
Conditions to look out for
Do not use this pill if you have or have ever had: breast cancer or cancer of the lining of the womb; blood clots; including heart attack or stroke; bleeding from your vagina of unknown cause; high levels of fat or cholesterol in your blood; sickle cell anaemia; very high blood pressure; migraines; or liver problems.
A doctor may only choose to issue this product with special care if you have a history of: diabetes; asthma; epilepsy; fibroids in the womb; otosclerosis; depression; or kidney problems.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
This medication should not be used by women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, think they could be pregnant or are planning on breastfeeding.
Driving and machinery
It is unlikely that Loestrin will have any affect on your driving or ability to operate machinery.
Contraception and cancer risks
Please refer to the patient information leaflet for details about the pill and cancer risks.
Q&A: our Loestrin discussion forum
Can I still drink alcohol?
Yes. You can still drink alcohol during the use of this treatment.
Will I still be able to drive?
Yes. Your capacity to drive should not be compromised by this pill, but you should avoid driving and let your doctor know right away if you experience any side effects which may make driving unsafe.
Can I take the medicine while pregnant?
You cannot take this medication while pregnant, or if you think you might be pregnant, or if you are breastfeeding. Those who are breastfeeding may able to find suitable treatment in the form of the minipill, or by consulting their doctor.
How should I store it?
In a safe place below 30°C, and out of the reach of children.
Am I allergic to anything in the medicine?
Loestrin 20 contains: norethisterone, ethinylestradiol, sucrose, lactose, maize starch, talc, powdered acacia, magnesium stearate, hypromellose 15, hydroxypropylcellulose, carnauba wax and the colourings quinoline yellow (E104), erythrosine FD&C Red (E127), indigo carmine (E132) and titanium dioxide (E171).
Loestrin 30 contains the same ingredients but different colourings: quinoline yellow (E104), sunset yellow FCF (E110), indigo carmine (E132), brilliant blue FCF (E133) and titanium dioxide (E171).
Do not use these tablets if you are allergic to any of the above components.
Is it available over-the-counter?
The pill is only available in the UK with a prescription from a doctor, which you can obtain by completing our consultation process.
Is it right for me?
If you are looking to start taking the pill, or are already on the pill but would like to try switching to a different one, see your GP. They will be able to help you choose the most appropriate option.
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