This medication is used to prevent pregnancy. It is often referred to as the "mini-pill" because it does not contain any estrogen. Norethindrone (a form of progestin) is a hormone that prevents pregnancy by making vaginal fluid thicker to help prevent sperm from reaching an egg (fertilization) and changing the lining of the uterus (womb) to prevent attachment of a fertilized egg. It also stops the release of an egg (ovulation) in about half of a woman's menstrual cycles.
While the "mini-pill" is more effective than certain other methods of birth control (such as condoms, cervical cap, diaphragm), it is less effective than combination hormone (estrogen and progestin) birth control because it does not consistently prevent ovulation. It is usually used by women who cannot take estrogen. To reduce the risk of pregnancy, it is very important to take this medication exactly as prescribed.
Read the Patient Information Leaflet provided by your pharmacist before you start using this product and each time you get a refill. The leaflet contains very important information on when to take your pills and what to do if you miss a dose. If you have any questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist.
Take this medication by mouth as directed by your doctor, usually once daily. Pick a time of day that is easy for you to remember, and take your pill at the same time each day.
Taking this medication after your evening meal or at bedtime may help if you have stomach upset or nausea with the medication. You may choose to take this medication at another time of day that is easier for you to remember. No matter what dosing schedule you use, it is very important that you take this medication at the same time each day, 24 hours apart.
It is best to begin taking this medication on the first day of your menstrual period. If you begin taking it on any other day, use an additional form of non-hormonal birth control (such as condoms, spermicide) for the first 48 hours to prevent pregnancy until the medication has enough time to work.
Continue taking one tablet every day. After taking the last tablet in a pack, start a new pack the next day. There is no break between packs, and you do not take any "reminder" tablets (tablets without medication). Your periods may be irregular, or heavier/lighter than usual. You may also have vaginal bleeding (spotting) between periods. Do not stop taking your pills if this happens.
Pregnancy is more likely if you miss pills, start a new pack late, or take your pill at a different time of the day than usual. If you miss a pill, or take it 3 or more hours later than usual, or have diarrhea, or vomit soon after taking a pill, use a back-up method of birth control (such as condoms, spermicide) every time you have sex for the next 48 hours.
Ask your doctor or pharmacist about how to switch from other forms of hormonal birth control (such as patch, other birth control pills) to this product. If any information is unclear, consult the Patient Information Leaflet or your doctor or pharmacist.
Nausea, vomiting, headache, bloating, breast tenderness, or weight gain may occur. Vaginal bleeding between periods (spotting) or missed/irregular periods may occur. If any of these effects persist or worsen, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly. If you miss 2 periods in a row (or 1 period if the pill has not been used properly), contact your doctor for a pregnancy test.
Tell your doctor right away if you have any serious side effects, including: lumps in the breast, mental/mood changes (such as new/worsening depression), severe stomach/abdominal pain, unusual changes in vaginal bleeding (such as continuous spotting, sudden heavy bleeding, missed periods), dark urine, yellowing eyes/skin.
This medication may rarely cause serious (sometimes fatal) problems from blood clots (such as deep vein thrombosis, heart attack, pulmonary embolism, stroke). Get medical help right away if any of these side effects occur: chest/jaw/left arm pain, confusion, sudden dizziness/fainting, pain/swelling/warmth in the groin/calf, slurred speech, sudden shortness of breath/rapid breathing, unusual headaches (including headaches with vision changes/lack of coordination, worsening of migraines, sudden/very severe headaches), unusual sweating, weakness on one side of the body, vision problems/changes (such as double vision, partial/complete blindness).
A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, get medical help right away if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.
In the US -
Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to norethindrone; or to other progestins; or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.
Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of: blood clots (for example, in the legs, eyes, lungs), blood clotting disorders (such as protein C or protein S deficiency), high blood pressure, abnormal breast exam, cancer (especially endometrial or breast cancer), low levels of "good" cholesterol (HDL), depression, diabetes, severe headaches/migraines, heart problems (such as heart valve disease, irregular heartbeat, previous heart attack), history of yellowing eyes/skin (jaundice) during pregnancy or while using hormonal birth control (such as pills, patch), liver disease (including tumors), unexplained vaginal bleeding.
Smoking raises your risk of stroke, heart attack, blood clots, and high blood pressure from hormonal birth control (such as the pill, patch, ring). The risk of these serious problems increases with age and with the number of cigarettes you smoke. Do not smoke or use tobacco.
Tell your doctor if you just had or will be having surgery or if you will be confined to a bed or chair for a long time (such as a long plane flight). These conditions increase your risk of getting blood clots, especially if you are using hormonal birth control. You may need to stop this medication for a time or take special precautions.
This medication may cause blotchy, dark areas on your skin (melasma). Sunlight may worsen this effect. Avoid prolonged sun exposure, sunlamps, and tanning booths. Use a sunscreen, and wear protective clothing when outdoors.
This medication should not be used during pregnancy. If you become pregnant or think you may be pregnant, tell your doctor immediately.
This medication may pass into breast milk in small amounts and have undesirable effects on a nursing infant. Consult your doctor before breast-feeding.
Some drugs may cause hormonal birth control to work less well by decreasing the amount of birth control hormones in your body. This effect can result in pregnancy. Examples include griseofulvin, modafinil, rifamycins (such as rifampin, rifabutin), St. John's wort, drugs used to treat seizures (such as barbiturates, carbamazepine, felbamate, phenytoin, primidone, topiramate), HIV drugs (such as nelfinavir, nevirapine, ritonavir), among others.
Tell your doctor when you start any new drug, and discuss if you should use additional reliable birth control. Also tell your doctor if you have any new spotting or breakthrough bleeding, because these may be signs that your birth control is not working well.
This medication may interfere with certain laboratory tests (such as sex hormone-binding globulin, thyroid), possibly causing false test results. Make sure laboratory personnel and all your doctors know you use this medication.
If overdose is suspected, contact a poison control center or emergency room immediately. US residents can call their local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. Canada residents can call a provincial poison control center. Symptoms of overdose may include severe nausea, vomiting, sudden/unusual vaginal bleeding.
Do not share this medication with others.
Keep all regular medical and laboratory appointments. You should have regular complete physical exams which include laboratory and medical tests (such as blood pressure, breast exam, pelvic exam, Pap smear) to monitor your progress and check for side effects. Follow your doctor's instructions for examining your breasts, and report any lumps right away. Consult your doctor for more details.
Refer to the product package information for advice on missed doses. You may need to use back-up birth control (such as condoms, spermicide) to prevent pregnancy. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions.
If you often forget to take your pills as directed, contact your doctor to discuss switching to another form of birth control.
Store at room temperature away from light and moisture. Do not store in the bathroom. Keep all medications away from children and pets.
Information last revised June 2014. Copyright(c) 2014 First Databank, Inc.
With WebMD's Medicine Cabinet, you can check interactions with drugs.Go to medicine cabinet