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Ortho Tri-Cyclen is an oral contraceptive pill consisting of female hormones called norgestimate and ethinyl estradiol. We carry the brand choice of this medication. 

Ortho Tri-Cyclen is a pill used to prevent pregnancy. Pregnancy occurs when a sperm cell (from the man) and an egg (from the female) meet inside the reproductive system of a female body which occurs during time of sexual intercourse. During menstruation in females, also known as a period (this occurs roughly once a month), an egg is released from the females ovaries (called ovulation). During ovulation, the egg will travel into the fallopian tube which leads to the uterus. During this time, if a sperm cell reaches the egg, it will then become fertilized and the process of pregnancy begins.

Ortho Tri-Cyclen is effective at preventing pregnancy because the female hormones (ethinyl estradiol and norgestimate) are able to prevent the release of an egg from an ovary, otherwise known as ovulation (an essential part of becoming pregnant). These hormones are also capable of changing the state of cervical mucus and uterine lining to a thicker and stickier substance; doing this makes it harder for sperm to travel to the uterus and harder for a fertilized egg to attach to the uterus (another essential part in becoming pregnant).

Alternatively, the hormones in this medication may also be used to treat moderate acne vulgaris in females who are 15+. If this medication is used for acne, the patient must desire an oral contraceptive for birth control.

Your doctor will tell you before prescribing you Ortho Tri-Cyclen (norgestimate/ethinyl estradiol) exactly how to take this medication. Follow his or her directions, they can usually be found on the prescription label if you forget. Do not take more or less of a dose than directed too. Store Ortho Tri-Cyclen at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

When to take the first pill: The first pill should be taken on the first day of your menstrual cycle (period). Additionally, you may take it on the first Sunday after your period begins. When you run out of a pack, start the next pack the following day.

How often to take the pill: Take one pill every day; ensure the pills are taken no more than 24 hours apart from each other.  Take the pill at the same time every day to ensure you do not miss a dose.


Do not use Ortho Tri-Cyclen (norgestimate/ethinyl estradiol)

If you are pregnant or recently had a baby; you should not use this medication. Those who have recently had a baby may begin treatment 4 weeks postpartum.

This medication should not be used by those who have uncontrolled high blood pressure, heart disease, coronary artery disease, circulation problems (especially with diabetes), undiagnosed vaginal bleeding, liver disease or liver cancer, severe migraine headaches, if you also take certain hepatitis C medication, if you have major surgery, if you smoke and are over 35, or if you have ever had a heart attack, a stroke, a blood clot, jaundice caused by pregnancy or birth control pills, or cancer of the breast, uterus/cervix, or vagina.

It is recommended you do not take Ortho Tri-Cyclen if you are over the age of 35 and smoke due to health risks.

You should not use this medication if you are breastfeeding. This drug passes into breast milk and is capable of harming a nursing infant.

Dose adjustment or special precautions may be required

Before starting this treatment, tell your doctor if you have ever had heart problems, high blood pressure, or if you are prone to blood clots, high cholesterol or triglycerides, or if you are overweight, depression, a seizure or migraine headache, diabetes, gallbladder disease, liver or kidney disease, irregular menstrual cycles, or fibrocystic breast disease, lumps, nodules, or an abnormal mammogram.


Taking this drug can cause an increase risk of blood clots, stroke, or heart attack. Smoking can significantly raise this risk.

Watch for signs of blood clots, heart attack, stroke, liver problems, increased blood pressure, and depression during the time of treatment. (See side effects).

Side Effects

Common side effects of Ortho Tri-Cyclen (norgestimate/ethinyl estradiol) may include:

nausea, vomiting (especially when you first start taking this medicine); breast tenderness; acne, darkening of facial skin; headache, nervousness; problems with contact lenses; changes in weight; breakthrough bleeding; vaginal itching or discharge; or rash.

The above side effects should not alarm you.

Serious side effects of Ortho Tri-Cyclen (norgestimate/ethinyl estradiol) may include:

swelling in your hands, ankles, or feet; changes in the pattern or severity of migraine headaches; or a breast lump.

If you have any of the above side effects, contact your doctor right away.

Contact your doctor if you notice signs of…

a stroke: sudden numbness or weakness (especially on one side of the body), sudden severe headache, slurred speech, problems with vision or balance;

a blood clot: sudden vision loss, stabbing chest pain, feeling short of breath, coughing up blood, pain or warmth in one or both legs;

a heart attack: chest pain or pressure, pain spreading to your jaw or shoulder, nausea, sweating;

liver problems: loss of appetite, upper stomach pain, tiredness, fever, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes);

increased blood pressure: severe headache, blurred vision, pounding in your neck or ears;

depression: sleep problems, weakness, tired feeling, mood changes.


What is one of the differences between Ortho Cyclen and Ortho Tri-Cyclen?

Ortho Cyclen may help with acne, but Ortho Tri-Cyclen has been approved to treat acne. Ortho Cyclen has the same amount of hormones throughout the entire treatment, with Ortho Cyclen; the hormone amount gradually increases over the weeks.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Unlike most medications, it is not as simple as taking the missed dose as soon as you remember. Depending on what week of the pack you are on and how many pills you missed, you may have to take 1 or more pills at a certain time to make up for the missed dose. Contact your healthcare provider for more details on what to do if you miss a dose of Ortho Cyclen.

Will this medication protect me again sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)?

No. Unfortunately, this pill has only been designed to help prevent pregnancy, not sexually transmitted diseases. This includes diseases such as HIV and AIDS.

What should I avoid while using this medication?

Avoid smoking while taking this drug, especially if you are over the age of 35. Doing so increases your risk of blood clots quite significantly.

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