What is this medication for?
This is a combination product of 2 medications: levonorgestrel and ethinyl estradiol. Levonorgestrel is a progestin and ethinyl estradiol is an estrogen. This medication is a birth control pill used for the prevention of pregnancy. It works by preventing ovulation (the release of an egg from an ovary) and causing changes in the mucus of the cervix, which make it difficult for sperm to penetrate and for an egg to implant.
Your doctor may have suggested this medication for conditions other than those listed here. As well, some forms of this medication may not be used for all of the conditions discussed here. If you are not sure why you are taking this medication, speak to your doctor. Do not stop taking this medication without consulting your doctor.
Do not give this medication to anyone else, even if they have the same symptoms as you do. It can be harmful for people to take this medication if their doctor has not prescribed it.
What form(s) does this medication come in?
Alesse® is no longer being manufactured for sale in the USA.
Some medications may have other generic brands available. Always ask your doctor or pharmacist about the safety of switching between brands of the same medication.
How should I use this medication?
The dose of this birth control pill is one tablet daily at the same time each day. Each 28-day pack contains 21 active tablets and 7 inactive tablets. Take 1 active tablet daily for 21 days, then take 1 inactive tablet daily for 7 days, and then begin the next pack.
Talk with your doctor about the best time to start your pills. The first day of your menstrual period (bleeding) is known as "Day 1." Your doctor may have you start your pills on the first Sunday after your period starts, or on Day 1 of your period. The pills should be taken approximately the same time every day, preferably after the evening meal or at bedtime. It is advisable to use a second method of birth control (e.g., latex condoms and spermicidal foam or gel) for the first 7 days of the first cycle of pill use. Many women have spotting or light bleeding or may feel sick to their stomach during the first 3 months taking the pill. If you do feel sick, do not stop taking the pill. The problem will usually go away. If it does not go away, check with your doctor or clinic.
If you have vomiting or diarrhea, or if you take certain medications (such as antibiotics), your pills may not work as well. If you start a new medication while taking birth control pills, check with your doctor or pharmacist to make sure that it will not reduce the effectiveness of the pills. Use a backup method of birth control, such as latex condoms and spermicidal foam or gel, until you can check with your doctor or pharmacist.
It is very important to take this medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor. If you miss pills at any time, the risk of becoming pregnant increases. If you miss one pill, take it as soon as you remember, and take the next pill at the usual time. This means that you might take 2 pills in one day. Use a nonhormonal method of birth control (such as condoms or spermicide) for the 7 days after you miss the pills.
If you miss 2 pills in a row during the first 2 weeks of your cycle, take 2 pills on the day you remember and 2 pills the next day. Then take one pill a day until you finish the pack. Use a nonhormonal method of birth control (such as condoms or spermicide) for the 7 days after you miss the pills.
If you start your pills on Sunday and you miss 2 pills in a row during the third week of your cycle or 3 or more pills in a row at any time in your cycle, keep taking one pill a day until Sunday. On Sunday, safely discard the rest of the pack and start a new pack that day. Use a nonhormonal method of birth control (such as condoms or spermicide) for the 7 days after you miss the pills.
If you start your pills on Day 1 and you miss 2 pills in a row during the third week of your cycle or 3 or more pills at any time during your cycle, safely dispose of the rest of the pill pack and start a new pack that same day. Use a nonhormonal method of birth control (such as condoms or spermicide) for the 7 days after you miss the pills. You may not have a period this month. If you miss 2 periods in a row, call your doctor or clinic.
See the package insert for additional information on where to start and what to do should you forget to take a pill.
Many things can affect the dose of medication that a person needs, such as body weight, other medical conditions, and other medications. If your doctor has recommended a dose different from the ones listed here, do not change the way that you are taking the medication without consulting your doctor.
Store this medication at room temperature, protect it from light and moisture, and keep it out of the reach of children.
Who should NOT take this medication?
Do not take levonorgestrel - ethinyl estradiol if you:
- are allergic to levonorgestrel, ethinyl estradiol, or any of the ingredients of this medication
- are or may be pregnant
- have active liver disease or a liver tumor
- have diabetes with blood vessel involvement
- have or have had heart disease (including coronary artery disease, valvular heart disease, and chest pain) or a heart attack
- have had recent surgery with prolonged immobility or bedrest
- have, have had, or may have breast cancer
- have, have had, or may have endometrial cancer or a tumor that relies on estrogen
- have headaches with numbness, tingling, or other symptoms
- have uncontrolled high blood pressure
- have or have had abnormal rhythms of the heart or heart valve problems that lead to blood clots
- have or have had a cerebrovascular disorder (e.g., stroke)
- have or have had noncancerous or cancerous liver tumors
- have or have had thrombophlebitis or thromboembolic (blood clotting) disorders of the legs, lungs, or eyes
- have unusual vaginal bleeding that has not been checked by a doctor
- have had yellowing of the skin or the whites of the eyes (jaundice) during pregnancy or while on birth control pills