When it comes to birth control, there are a variety of different types of contraception to choose from. One of the most popular forms is the oral contraceptive pill, commonly referred to as “the pill.” Levlen is a popular brand of birth control pill prescribed for women.
Because Levlen is available by prescription only in Australia, it’s important to understand how it works and how to best use it for your particular needs.
Levlen, or Levlen ED, is a combined oral contraceptive pill, meaning it has a combination of estrogen and progestogen. The estrogen component in Levlen is 30 mcg of ethinylestradiol, while the progestogen component is 150 mcg of levonorgestrel.
The Levlen pill is commonly prescribed for women who want to prevent pregnancy, though there are a few other benefits to taking a combined oral contraceptive pill related to your period and managing hormonal acne.
As a combined pill, Levlen works to prevent pregnancy by stopping ovulation from happening each month. Without ovulation, there is no egg to be fertilised, so a woman cannot get pregnant. In addition to preventing ovulation during a monthly cycle, Levlen also thickens the cervical mucus and thins the uterine lining. The thickened cervical mucus helps prevent sperm from entering the womb, while the thinner lining of the uterus prevents implantation.
Each pack of Levlen ED contains 28 pills: 21 pills with active medication and 7 pills with no medication. The 7 days without active medication are meant to be your period week.
It’s important to take Levlen exactly as prescribed. You’ll take one whole tablet at the exact same time each day in order to ensure your body has the same level of hormones at all times.
Don’t worry - there is some wiggle room with timing. A pill is not considered missed until it’s been more than 24 hours, or 48 hours from when you took the last one. If you forget to take a pill, take the next one as soon as you remember, even if it means you have to take two at the same time.
If you missed two or more pills in a pack, take the last pill you missed as soon as possible and continue the pack as normal, but use condoms or backup contraception for 7 days.
Some women who take combined pills like Levlen see positive benefits with managing acne. While there are many different causes of acne, hormonal acne is typically caused by an increase in androgens, or male sex hormones. Because you are taking synthetic estrogen and progestogen hormones when you take Levlen, it’s possible for the pill to help reduce the amount of oil and sebum that is produced and, in turn, reduce breakouts.
However, when it comes to the best birth control pill for treating acne, Levlen is not usually the first line choice. Contraceptive pills like Diane-35, Yaz and Yasmin have better response for acne, but they are also more expensive than Levlen.
Everybody is different, so not all women will experience the same positive outcomes with their hormonal acne. If you are interested in using the birth control pill to manage your acne, talk to your doctor.
One of the most common positive side effects of taking oral contraceptives is with your period. Many women experience lighter and shorter periods when taking Levlen.
Each month, your body sheds your uterine lining through the form of menstrual blood and tissue. When you take hormonal birth control pills, the monthly bleeding that happens during the sugar pill week is called withdrawal bleeding because your body is withdrawing from the lack of hormones. When your hormone levels drop, the lining of your uterus sheds.
Because Levlen works to keep the lining of your uterus from growing thicker, there is less to shed and therefore your period is typically shorter and lighter.
In general, it is safe to skip your period while on the pill. However, it depends on your body and medical history - talk to your doctor first if you’re thinking about using the pill to skip your period.
Because Levlen comes in a pack of 28 pills (21 active, 7 sugar pills), you can skip the sugar pills and start a new pack to continuously maintain the level of hormones in your body.
When taken correctly, combined oral contraceptive pills like Levlen are 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. “Correct” use means you are taking it at the exact same time every day and not doing anything that could impact the pill’s absorption, such as vomiting, having diarrhea or taking any medications that impact the pill’s efficacy.
“Normal” use of the pill brings the effectiveness rate down to about 92%, meaning that it is possible to get pregnant while on the pill.
If you’ve missed two or more pills in a pack, keep taking the pack and use backup contraception for 7 days to protect against pregnancy.
Like any prescription medication, there are some side effects of Levlen you should be aware of.
Mild side effects include:
- Stomach pain together with bleeding
- Headache, including migraines
- Mood changes, including depression
- Breast tenderness or pain.
More serious side effects are uncommon but can include:
- Pain in the chest, arm or below the breastbone
- Back pain
- Difficulty breathing
- Swelling, pain or tenderness of one leg
- Sudden weakness, numbness or bad ‘pins and needles’ of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
- Severe, sudden stomach pains
- Blood clots
- Breast lumps
If you experience any of the above, call 000 immediately. For breast lumps, review with your doctor as soon as possible.
Finding the right combination of hormones to suit your body and needs may take a bit of trial and error. You might find the perfect pill for you on your first try, or you might need to try a few different brands before you find the best birth control pill for you.
When it comes to combined oral contraceptive pills, pills with levonorgestrel as their progestogen component like Levlen are generally well-tolerated and well-tested. Other pills with levonorgestrel include Microgynon, Femme-Tab, Loette, Nordette and Monofeme.
If combined oral contraceptive pills aren’t working for you, you might consider taking the mini pill. The mini pill contains progestogen only and is a good option for women who can’t take the extra estrogen, such as women who are breastfeeding or those with a history of blood clots or strokes.
Levlen ED is a popular brand of combined oral contraceptive pill in Australia. It is used to prevent pregnancy and can have positive side effects related to managing acne and period symptoms. If you’re interested in trying Levlen ED for the first time, talk to your doctor.
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Product LEVLEN ED tablet blister pack is registered in the ARTG, AUST R