Ortho-Novum is used for preventing pregnancy in women of reproductive age. It is a combined oral contraceptive because it contains both an estrogen and a progestin. There are several types of Ortho-Novum pills, some of which contain two or three "phases" (or different strengths) of hormones in each pack. Some off-label Ortho-Novum uses include the treatment of heavy menstrual bleeding and painful menstrual periods.
Ortho-Novum® is an oral contraceptive, more commonly known as a birth control pill. There are actually four different types of Ortho-Novum, including:
- Ortho-Novum 1/35 (norethindrone and ethinyl estradiol), a "monophasic" birth control pill
- Ortho-Novum 10/11 (norethindrone and ethinyl estradiol), a "biphasic" birth control pill
- Ortho-Novum 7/7/7 (norethindrone and ethinyl estradiol), a "triphasic" birth control pill
- Ortho-Novum 1/50 (norethindrone and mestranol), a "monophasic" pill with a high dose of estrogen.
Ortho-Novum 1/50 (but not the other types of Ortho-Novum) contains a high dose of the estrogen component (mestranol), compared to most birth control pills that are currently available. Any birth control pill that contains 50 mcg (0.05 mg) or more of an estrogen is considered a high-dose estrogen. When birth control pills first came out, they had much higher estrogen doses, compared to today's birth control pills. Over the years, new birth control pills have gradually reduced the estrogen dose, as estrogen is responsible for many of the dangerous problems associated with birth control pills (like heart problems, blood clots, and strokes).
Although these new, low-dose birth control pills are effective, they tend to provide less cycle control. This means that there is often more bleeding in between periods (breakthrough bleeding) and, sometimes, heavier periods with low-dose pills. The high-dose birth control pills seem to control the growth of the endometrium (the lining of the uterus that is shed with bleeding) more than the low-dose pills.
Because the higher dose of estrogen in Ortho-Novum 1/50 increases the risk of many serious side effects, you should only take it if your healthcare provider thinks that it is the best choice for your situation. If regular or low-dose birth control pills work fine for you, you should not take Ortho-Novum 1/50.