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Ortho-Cyclen and Breastfeeding

Instead of using a combined oral contraceptive, such as Ortho-Cyclen, breastfeeding women should consider temporarily switching to a progestin-only pill. Although the hormones in Ortho-Cyclen pass through breast milk in low amounts and are unlikely to cause serious problems, it could decrease the production and quality of breast milk. Talk to your healthcare provider about Ortho-Cyclen and breastfeeding to find the best option for you.

Is Ortho-Cyclen Safe During Breastfeeding?

Ortho-Cyclen® (norgestimate/ethinyl estradiol) is a prescription birth control pill. Specifically, it is a combined oral contraceptive, meaning that it contains two different kinds of hormones (both a progestin and an estrogen). Although some birth control pills are considered okay while breastfeeding, most are not recommended. In particular, "combined" oral contraceptives (such as Ortho-Cyclen) should usually be avoided.
 
(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.)
 

What Does the Research Say About Ortho-Cyclen and Breastfeeding?

Research suggests that the hormones in birth control pills pass through breast milk in low amounts. These small amounts are probably too low to cause significant or long-lasting problems in breastfeeding infants. There have been cases of problems (such as jaundice and breast enlargement) in babies whose mothers took other combined oral contraceptives while breastfeeding.
 
Combined oral contraceptives (like Ortho-Cyclen) are the most commonly used type of birth control pills. Although combined oral contraceptives are very effective at preventing pregnancy, they are usually not recommended for breastfeeding women. More importantly, combined contraceptives may decrease the production and quality of breast milk. For this reason, progestin-only oral contraceptives (also known as "mini-pills") are almost always recommended instead of combined contraceptives in breastfeeding women. However, progestin-only contraceptive pills are usually much less effective than combined oral contraceptives. As soon as you stop breastfeeding, it may be a good idea to ask your healthcare provider about switching back to a combined contraceptive product (such as Ortho-Cyclen).
 
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Information on Ortho-Cyclen

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