Levlen is a combination birth control medication that contains 2 hormones (estrogen and progestin) and is used to prevent pregnancy.
What is Levlen?
Levlen is a low-dose monophasic oral combined estrogen-progestin contraceptive. 1 tablet contains ethinyl estradiol 30 mcg, levonorgestrel 0.15mg. The drug is used to prevent pregnancy and treat hormone-dependent functional disorders of the menstrual cycle (dysmenorrhea, menorrhagia without an organic cause, premenstrual syndrome).
How does it work?
The drug inhibits pituitary secretion of gonadotropic hormones and provides the contraceptive effect. Levonorgestrel surpasses the activity of the corpus luteum hormone progesterone, acts at the receptor level without prior metabolic transformations. Ethinyl estradiol blocks the release of LH and FSH of the hypothalamus, suppresses secretion of pituitary gonadotropic hormones by the pituitary gland, which leads to inhibition of maturation and release of the ovum ready for fertilization. The drug makes it difficult for sperm to enter the uterus. Besides, Levlen normalizes the menstrual cycle and helps prevent a number of gynecological diseases.
How to use Levlen?
Tablets should be taken orally in the order indicated on the packaging, every day at about the same time, with a small amount of water. Take one take per day for 28 days without interruption. Begin a new Levlen pack the next day after taking the last pill from the previous pack. Withdrawal bleeding usually occurs during the period of taking inert tablets. Bleeding usually begins 2-3 days after taking the last active pill and may not end before the start of a new pack.
In some cases, birth control pills can cause nausea, vomiting, headache, engorgement of the mammary glands, weight gain, decreased libido and mood, coarsening of the voice, intermenstrual bleeding, eyelid edema, conjunctivitis, blurred vision, discomfort when wearing contact lenses (these phenomena are temporary).
Long-term use of Levlen contraceptive can cause chloasma, hearing loss, generalized itching, jaundice, calf muscles, an increase in the frequency of epileptic seizures, an increase in plasma triglyceride, decreased glucose tolerance, increased blood pressure, thrombosis, venous thromboembolism, skin rashes, unusual vaginal secretions, vaginal candidiasis, fatigue.
Levlen is contraindicated for use in any of the following conditions:
- hypersensitivity to ethinyl estradiol or levonorgestrel;
- liver failure;
- Gilbert/Dubin-Johnson and Rotor syndromes;
- liver tumors (hemangioma, liver cancer);
- sickle cell anemia;
- chronic hemolytic anemia;
- vaginal bleeding of unknown etiology;
- malignant tumors (especially breast cancer or endometrium);
- the presence or indication in the history of severe cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases and susceptibility to them (ischemic or hemorrhagic stroke, widespread atherosclerosis, decompensated heart defects, myocarditis, decompensated heart failure, severe arterial hypotension, severe diabetes mellitus (accompanied by retinopathy and microangiopathy);
- otosclerosis with impaired hearing;
- idiopathic jaundice or itching during a previous pregnancy.
- Barbiturates, some antiepileptic drugs (carbamazepine, phenytoin), sulfonamides, pyrazolone derivatives can increase the metabolism of ethinyl estradiol or levonorgestrel;
- Some antibiotics (ampicillin, rifampicin, chloramphenicol, neomycin, polymyxin B, sulfonamides, tetracyclines) can reduce the contraceptive efficacy of Levlen;
- Hormonal contraceptives may affect the efficiency of hypoglycemic drugs and indirect anticoagulants. The correction of a dosage regimen may be required.
What if I miss a pill?
If you miss an active tablet, you should take it during the next 12 hours. If the interval is longer than 36 hours, a reliable contraceptive effect is not guaranteed (despite this, continue taking tablets in order to prevent premature menstruation associated with drug withdrawal). During this period, it is recommended to use other non-hormonal methods of contraception (a condom, vaginal suppositories, etc.). Skipping an inactive pill is not dangerous and does not increase the chance of getting pregnant.
Use of hormonal contraceptives can be continued until the prevention of pregnancy is desirable. When you take pills regularly, the contraceptive effect also extends to a week-long break in the intake of hormones. Smokers who take Levlen have an increased risk of developing vascular diseases with serious consequences (myocardial infarction, stroke). The risk increases with age and depending on the number of cigarettes smoked (especially in women older than 35 years). Moderate bleeding during the course does not require discontinuation of hormonal contraception. Treatment must be stopped immediately when pregnancy occurs. If a woman has vomiting or diarrhea within up to 4 hours after taking an active tablet, absorption may not be complete and additional contraceptive measures should be taken; in these cases, you should focus on the recommendations when missing pills. Symptoms that may occur with an overdose include nausea, vomiting, spotting, or metrorrhagia. It is recommended to stop taking pills 3 months before the planned pregnancy and switch to another non-hormonal method of contraception. After the drug withdrawal, fertility is restored within 1-3 menstrual cycles. Use after delivery or abortion (miscarriage) is recommended after the first natural period. The drug does not protect you against HIV infection (AIDS) and other sexually transmitted diseases. Influence on the ability to drive a car and work with complex mechanisms is not identified.