Ortho Tri-Cyclen (Ethinyl Estradiol & Norgestimate)

Ortho Tri-Cyclen

Table Of Contents

    What Is Ortho Tri-Cyclen?

    Ortho Tri-Cyclen includes a blend of female hormones (ethinyl estradiol and norgestimate) that prevent ovulation (the release of an egg from an ovary). This drug also causes changes in uterine lining and your cervical mucus, making it more difficult for a fertilized egg and more difficult for sperm to reach the uterus.


    It is used as contraception to prevent pregnancy.

    It might also be used for functions not listed in this medication guide.

    Important Information

    Don’t use Ortho Tri-Cyclen if you’ve had a baby or if you’re pregnant.

    Taking birth control pills can raise your risk of heart attack, stroke, or blood clots, in case you are heavy, or particularly if you are at risk of having high blood pressure or diabetes.

    Smoking can significantly increase your risk of heart attack, stroke, or blood clots. You must not take birth control pills if you are over 35 years old and smoke.

    You may have to use back up birth control, like a spermicide or condoms, when you begin using this birth control option or if you miss a dose. Follow the directions of your physician.


    Some drugs can make Ortho Tri- Cyclen less successful in preventing pregnancy, including hepatitis C medications, antibiotics, HIV/AIDS medicines, seizure medicines, or barbiturate sedatives. Inform your doctor about all other medicines you use.

    Before Taking The Medication

    Taking this birth control option can raise your risk of heart attack, stroke, or blood clots. You’re more at risk in case you are heavy, or if you have high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol.

    Smoking can significantly increase your risk of heart attack, stroke, or blood clots. Your risk increases the more you smoke and the older you are. Blend birth control pills should not be taken by you if you are over 35 years old and smoke.

    Don’t use Ortho Tri-Cyclen if you’re pregnant. Stop taking this medication and tell your physician if you miss two menstrual periods in a row, or if you become pregnant. Wait before taking birth control pills, if you’ve recently had a baby.

    Some reasons why you shouldn’t take this medication:

    • chest pain
    • unusual vaginal bleeding that has not been assessed by a physician
    • Difficulties with circulation, kidneys or your eyes due to diabetes
    • a history of hormone-related cancer like breast or uterine cancer
    • liver cancer
    • a history of jaundice due to pregnancy or birth control pills

    To make certain Ortho Tri-Cyclen are not dangerous for you, make sure your doctor knows if you’ve:

      • High blood pressure, heart disease
      • gallbladder disease
      • Kidney or liver disorder
      • diabetes
      • seizures or epilepsy

    • A history of irregular menstrual or
    • A history of nodules, lumps, fibrocystic breast disease, or an abnormal mammogram

    The hormones in Ortho Tri-Cyclen can pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing infant. It may also impede breast milk production. Don’t use if you’re breast feeding a baby.

    Dosage Information

    Take Ortho Tri-Cyclen precisely as prescribed by your physician. Don’t take in smaller or bigger quantities or for more than recommended. Follow the directions in your prescription label.

    You may have to use backup birth control, like a spermicide or condoms, when you begin using Ortho Tri-Cyclen. Follow the directions of your physician.

    Take one pill daily, no more than 24 hours apart. Begin a fresh pack the following day, when the pills run out. Should you not take one pill you may get pregnant.

    Your period will normally start when you are using these reminder pills.

    Tell your physician if this bleeding is quite significant or continues.

    Use a backup birth control should you be ill with diarrhea or acute vomiting.


    If you will need if you’ll be on bed rest or medical tests or surgery, you may have to discontinue using the birth control medication for a brief time. Surgeon or any physician who treats you should be aware  that you’re using Ortho Tri-Cyclen.

    While taking this medication, you’ll need to see your physician regularly.

    What happens if I missed a dose?

    Follow the patient instructions supplied with your Ortho Tri-Cyclen. Should you not understand these directions ask your physician or pharmacist.

    Take two pills on the day that you just recall if you miss one active pill. Take one pill daily for the remaining part of the pack.

    Take two pills daily for two days in a row if you miss two active pills in a row in Week 1 or 2. Take one pill daily for the remaining part of the pack.

    If you miss two active pills in a row in Week 3, throw out the remaining part of the pack and begin a fresh pack the same day in case you are a Day 1 starter. In case you are a Sunday starter, keep taking a pill daily until Sunday. On Sunday, throw out the remaining part of the pack and begin a brand new pack that day.

    In case you are a Sunday starter, keep taking a pill daily until Sunday. On Sunday, throw out the remaining part of the pack and begin a brand new pack that day.


    You may not have a period during the month if you miss a couple of pills.

    Throw it away if you miss a reminder pill and keep taking one reminder pill each day until the pack is empty. You don’t want backup birth control if you miss a reminder pill.

    What happens if I overdose?


    Seek emergency medical attention right away or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

    What to avoid while taking this medication?

    Don’t smoke while taking this medication, particularly when you’re older than 35 years old.


    Ortho Tri-Cyclen is not going to shield you from sexually transmitted diseases – including AIDS and HIV. Using a condom is the lone way to shield yourself from these disorders.

    Side Effects

    It is important that if you experience any of these serious side effects that you get emergency medical help right away.

    If you have issues with swelling of the tongue, throat, face or lips. If you have trouble breathing or break out into hives you should seek medical attention as soon as possible.

    If you experience any of these side effects below you should stop using this birth control option and all your doctor:

    • Hints of a blood clot in the lung – rapid breathing, chest pain, sudden cough, wheezing, coughing up blood
    • Hints of a blood clot in your leg – pain, swelling, heat, or redness in one or both legs
    • Heart attack symptoms – pressure or chest pain, pain spread to shoulder or your jaw, nausea, perspiration
    • liver problems – nausea, upper stomach pain, itching, exhausted feeling, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-coloured stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes)
    • a change in the pattern or severity of migraine head aches
    • a breast lump
    • Symptoms of melancholy – disposition changes, sleep difficulties, weakness, exhausted feeling

    Some of the more common side effects of this birth control include:

    • changes in appetite or weight
    • vomiting and/or nausea
    • breast tenderness
    • nervousness, head ache, dizziness
    • rash
    • difficulties with contact lenses
    • unusual menstrual spotting or bleeding

    Please note that this may not be a complete list of side effects and it is possible for other side effects to occur. If you would like more information about the side effects that may occur you should contact your doctor for medical advice.


    You can also report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

    What other medications affect this Birth Control option?

    Some drugs can make Ortho Tri-Cyclen powerful, which might lead to pregnancy. Other drugs may interact with ethinyl estradiol and desogestrel, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.

    Tell each of your health care providers about any medication you begin and all medications you use currently or quit using.