Microgestin is a contraception medication of combined hormones norethindrone and ethinyl estradiol. This combination works by preventing the release of an egg during a woman’s menstruation cycle. This article goes on to discuss how to use Microgestin, some known side effects and warnings.
This combination hormone is used to prevent pregnancy. It contains 2 hormones, norethindrone (progestin) and ethinyl estradiol (estrogen).
It works by preventing the release of eggs during ovulation (a menstrual cycle). It also thickens the vaginal fluid to prevent sperm from entering the egg for fertilization and alters the uterine lining of the womb to prevent attachment. The sperm and unfertilised egg does not attach to the uterus and leaves the body.
The 7 inactive tablets taken during the fourth week contain a small amount of ferrous fumarate (iron). These 7 tablets do not contain hormones. These exist to allow the user to get used to taking 1 tablet a day. The ferrous fumarate is a small dosage so it is not enough to treat iron deficiency.
In addition to preventing pregnancy, the birth control pill can make your periods more regular, reduce blood loss, reduce painful periods, lower your risk of ovarian cysts and also treat acne. It is important to understand that Microgestin does not protect you or your partner from sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV, gonorrhoea and chlamydia.
It is recommended to take Microgestin at the same time each day. You may take it before or after eating, although there have been reports from users that it can lead to an upset stomach. Therefore, taking it with food may prevent this.
If you miss two periods in a row, take a pregnancy test before beginning a new cycle of this medication. You may be pregnant. This is rare if the medication is taken correctly. If you vomit or have diarrhoea, this medication will not work to prevent pregnancy. Do not skip doses if you are having sex and do not want to become pregnant. In this case, you may use an additional form of birth control, such as a condom.
The correct dosage and label that you will be prescribed will depend on various factors that your doctor will discuss with you. You may notice different numbers after the drug name, these could include Microgestin FE 1 20, Microgestin 1.5 30 or Microgestin FE 1.5 30. ‘FE’ is the medical abbreviation for Ferrous Fumarate, which is an iron supplement. Below is an example of the different classifications available, with differing dosages of each hormone.
(Norethindrone Acetate and Ethinyl Estradiol Tablets, USP)
- MICROGESTIN 1 20
(Each white tablet contains 1 mg norethindrone acetate and 20 mcg ethinyl estradiol.)
- MICROGESTIN 1.5 30
(Each green tablet contains 1.5 mg norethindrone acetate and 30 mcg ethinyl estradiol.)
- MICROGESTIN FE
(Norethindrone Acetate and Ethinyl Estradiol Tablets, USP and Ferrous Fumarate Tablets*)
*Ferrous fumarate tablets are not USP for dissolution and assay.
- MICROGESTIN FE 1 20
(Each white tablet contains 1 mg norethindrone acetate and 20 mcg ethinyl estradiol. Each brown tablet contains 75 mg ferrous fumarate.)
- MICROGESTIN FE 1.5 30
(Each green tablet contains 1.5 mg norethindrone acetate and 30 mcg ethinyl estradiol. Each brown tablet contains 75 mg ferrous fumarate.)
Precautions And Interactions
Microgestin may need to be discontinued before or after certain surgeries or procedures, but your doctor will tell you if it is necessary. In any case, you should inform your healthcare provider if you are taking Microgestin.
This medication can increase the risk of blood clots, strokes and heart attacks. Talk to your doctor if you need to stay in bed or be still for long periods of time, such as a long journey (in any form of transport), bed rest, surgery or other illness. If you do not exercise for an extended period of time, you may increase your chances of a blood clot.
Breast cancer risk depends on how long the birth control pill is taken. One study showed that the risk was increased in women who had taken the pill for over 10 years. Another study showed that the risk is increased for women who took the pill at a younger age. Be sure to get regular breast exams. If you suspect an unexplained lump on your breast through a self-examination, you should inform your doctor immediately for a diagnosis.
If you are diabetic, Microgestin can have an effect on your blood sugar. Check your blood sugar regularly and consult your doctor before taking this medication. If you have high blood sugar or diabetes, your doctor may prescribe a different form of contraception. Hypertension can also occur when this medication is taken with other medications.
If you drink grapefruit juice or eat grapefruit, discuss this with your doctor before taking Microgestin.
If you are allergic to tartrazine (food colouring agent), discuss this with your doctor before taking Microgestin.
This medication may alter laboratory tests such as blood and urine tests. Therefore, you should tell your provider that you are taking this medication before having the tests done.
Certain herbal products, such as St John’s Wort, may alter the efficacy of Microgestin. Discuss with your doctor all herbal products you may use.
With every medication, there are possible side effects. These include:
- terminated or delayed ovulation
- sensitive chest
- ankle or feet swelling
- contact lens intolerance
- increased risk of gallbladder disease or thromboembolic disease
- fluid retention
- weight gain
If signs of an allergic reaction occur, emergency medical help should be sought immediately. These include:
- difficulty breathing
- swelling of the face, lips, tongue or neck
If these side effects persist or worsen, inform your doctor or pharmacist.
Vaginal bleeding, spotting, missed or irregular periods can occur in the first few months of use. If you miss two periods in a row, contact your doctor for a pregnancy test.
Many people taking this medicine have no serious side effects. However, it is important to discuss the risks with your provider. Remember that your doctor will prescribe this medication and he or she will evaluate the benefits with the risks and side effects.
This medication may raise your blood pressure. Check your blood pressure regularly and tell your doctor if the results are high.
Tell your doctor if you have any of these serious side effects, including:
- lumps on your chest
- mood changes such as new or worsening depression
- severe stomach or abdominal pain
- unusual changes in vaginal bleeding (such as persistent bleeding or sudden heavy bleeding or lack of periods)
- dark urine
- yellowing of the eyes or skin.
- sudden dizziness or fainting
- pain or swelling
- burning sensation in the groin or calves
- speech problems
- sudden shortness of breath or rapid breathing
- unusual headaches (including migraines)
- blurred vision
- lack of coordination
- unusual sweating
- weakness on one side of the body
- partial or complete blindness
This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice any other effects that are not listed here, contact your doctor or pharmacist immediately.