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Specific Safety Concerns With Ortho-Novum

Specific Ortho-Novum Warnings and Precautions

Some of the warnings and precautions to be aware of prior to using Ortho-Novum include the following:
  • Combined oral contraceptives, including Ortho-Novum, increase the risk of life-threatening problems, such as heart attacks, strokes, and blood clots. This risk is minimal for healthy, young, nonsmoking women. However, tell your healthcare provider if you have ever had a blood clot, stroke, heart attack, or chest pain. Smoking cigarettes greatly increases the risk of these serious Ortho-Novum side effects. This risk is particularly high for smokers over the age of 35.
  • Ortho-Novum 1/50 (but not the other forms of Ortho-Novum) contains more estrogen than most birth control pills that are currently on the market. This high-estrogen dose may increase the risk of dangerous side effects (such as blood clots and strokes), as estrogen is responsible for these problems. You should only take Ortho-Novum 1/50 if your healthcare provider thinks that it is the best choice for your situation. For instance, high-estrogen birth control pills may be useful for women who experience heavy menstrual bleeding or heavy bleeding between periods while on regular birth control pills.
  • When you take the drug correctly, your risk of pregnancy is quite low. However, if you take Ortho-Novum incorrectly, your risk of pregnancy significantly increases. Make sure you understand exactly how to take Ortho-Novum, including how and when to start it and what to do if you miss any pills.
  • Ortho-Novum can interact with a number of different medications (see Ortho-Novum Drug Interactions). Many of these interactions are severe enough to increase the risk of unintentional pregnancy.
  • The medication does not protect against HIV, AIDS, or other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). In many cases, women are advised to use condoms in addition to Ortho-Novum.
  • Combined oral contraceptives may slightly increase the risk of breast cancer or cervical cancer, although this is an unresolved and controversial issue. However, combined oral contraceptives seem to help protect women against ovarian and uterine cancer.
  • Oral contraceptives increase the risk of benign (noncancerous) liver tumors. In rare cases, these tumors can rupture and cause serious problems.
  • Hormonal contraceptives can make gallbladder disease worse. Therefore, if you have had a problem with your gallbladder, Ortho-Novum may not be the best contraceptive method for you.
  • Ortho-Novum may increase blood sugar levels, particularly in women with diabetes. Your healthcare provider may need to monitor you more closely in this case. Let your healthcare provider know if you have any sudden vision changes, as this may be a sign of a blood clot in the eyes (a possible side effect of Ortho-Novum and other hormonal contraceptives).
  • Hormonal contraceptives, including Ortho-Novum, can increase your blood pressure. This can be a problem if you already have high blood pressure.
  • The medication can change your menstrual bleeding patterns. Some women have breakthrough bleeding (bleeding between periods), while others may not have a period at all. It is normal to have shorter and lighter periods while using Ortho-Novum. If you notice any unusual changes in your bleeding patterns, let your healthcare provider know. If you miss a period, you should make sure you are not pregnant.
  • Ortho-Novum can affect your cholesterol. Your healthcare provider may need to check your cholesterol levels after you start the drug, especially if you already have high cholesterol.
  • Sometimes, hormonal contraceptives can make depression worse. Let your healthcare provider know if you develop new or worsening symptoms of depression while taking Ortho-Novum.
  • Occasionally, Ortho-Novum (as well as any other hormonal contraceptive) can cause eye changes that make it more difficult to wear contact lenses.
  • Ortho-Novum is considered a pregnancy Category X medication. This means that it should not be used during pregnancy (see Ortho-Novum and Pregnancy).
  • Contraceptive hormones, such as the ones in Ortho-Novum, do pass through breast milk. Therefore, if you are breastfeeding or plan to start, discuss this with your healthcare provider prior to taking the contraceptive (see Ortho-Novum and Breastfeeding). Combined hormonal contraceptives are not usually recommended for women who are breastfeeding.
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