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Ortho-Cyclen is used for preventing pregnancy. It is a birth control pill that is approved for use in women of reproductive age. It prevents pregnancy by stopping ovulation and altering the lining of the uterus and cervical mucus. Healthcare providers may also sometimes recommend off-label Ortho-Cyclen uses, such as for treating acne, heavy menstrual bleeding, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).

What Is Ortho-Cyclen Used For?

Ortho-Cyclen® (norgestimate/ethinyl estradiol) is a birth control pill (also known as an oral contraceptive) that is available by prescription only. Like most birth control pills, Ortho-Cyclen offers the following benefits:
  • Easy to use (although you must remember to take it every day)
  • Very effective birth control
  • Less menstrual pain
  • Lighter and more regular menstrual bleeding
  • Decreased risk of ovarian or endometrial cancer (cancer of the lining of the uterus).
(Ortho-Cyclen is equivalent to Estarylla™, Mono-Linyah™, MonoNessa®, Previfem®, and Sprintec® birth control pills. The information in this article also applies to each of these medications.)
Fortunately, there are a variety of different birth control options available today. Each particular method has its own advantages and disadvantages, and no single birth control method is right for all women. Some are more effective than others, and some require a prescription. Some of the most commonly used birth control methods include:
  • Periodic abstinence, sometimes known as natural family planning or the rhythm method -- avoiding intercourse during the fertile phase of your menstrual cycle
  • Withdrawal -- removing the penis from the vagina prior to ejaculation
  • Spermicides -- foams, jellies, gels, suppositories, and inserts
  • Barrier contraceptives -- condoms, diaphragms, cervical caps, and various other methods that physically block the sperm from entering the uterus
  • Combined hormonal contraceptives (which contain a progestin and an estrogen) -- most birth control pills, patches, and rings
  • Progestin-only contraceptives -- some birth control pills ("mini-pills"), injections, and implants
  • Intrauterine devices (IUDs) -- implanted devices that are both very effective and reversible
  • Surgical sterilization -- tubal ligation (getting your "tubes tied") or vasectomy (for men).
Like most birth control pills, Ortho-Cyclen falls into the category of combined hormonal contraceptives, as it contains both a progestin (norgestimate) and an estrogen (ethinyl estradiol). Birth control pills are often a great contraceptive choice for many women. However, combined hormonal contraceptives may increase the risk of blood clots and other problems, and not all women should take combined hormonal contraceptives (see Ortho-Cyclen Warnings and Precautions for more information).
As with almost all methods of birth control, combined hormonal contraceptives must be used correctly and consistently in order to prevent pregnancy. More importantly, Ortho-Cyclen does not protect against HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Therefore, in many situations, it is advisable to use condoms in addition to Ortho-Cyclen (to prevent transmission of STDs).
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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