Prescription Options

Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo for Birth Control

July 27, 2018

Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo is a new combination birth control pills. This is a triphasic birth control pill — this means that Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo contains three different doses of hormones throughout the three weeks of active tablets in each pack. Triphasic pills are different from traditional monophasic pills — that can be made up of precisely the exact same dose of both estrogen and progestin.

What is in a Package of Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo?

Each monthly package of Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo comprises 28 pills. The active pills comprise of ethinyl estradiol and the progestin, norgestimate. Every week of an Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo birth control pill pack has a different mix of these hormones:

  • Week 1: Each of these seven pills are white and comprise 0.025 mg of ethinyl estradiol and also 0.180 mg of norgestimate.
  • Week two: Each of those seven tablets are light blue and comprise 0.025 mg of ethinyl estradiol and 0.215 mg of norgestimate.
  • Week 3: every one of those seven tablets are dark blue and contain 0.025 mg of ethinyl estradiol and 0.250 mg of norgestimate.
  • Week 4: every one of those seven pills are dark green; those are placebo pills or contain any hormones.

The amount of progestin at Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo slowly increases each week of the pill package, but the quantity of estrogen remains the same. Triphasic birth control pills, like Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo, are supposed to more closely mimic the hormonal changes of your natural menstrual cycle.

Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo Includes a DIALPAK Tablet Dispenser which is preset for a Sunday Start. Nonetheless, you might even use Ortho Tri-cyclen Lo with a Day 1 Start.

Negative Effects

Just like any type of hormonal contraceptive, you might experience some side effects if you use Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo — but, it may be useful to understand these side effects usually go away after the first 3 weeks.

The most common reported side effects of the Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo birth control pill are:

  • Nausea and/or nausea
  • Spotting or intermittent bleeding
  • Difficulty wearing contact lenses
  • Fluid retention 
  • Weight gain and/or change in appetite
  • Spotty darkening of the skin (usually the face)
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Cosmetic Dentistry
  • Headache and/or nausea
  • Depression and/or nervousness
  • Hair loss

Studies have shown that the hormone mix in Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo has been well-tolerated by the majority of women. In a study of 1,723 girls who used this birth control pill, only 4 percent (69 women) ceased using Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo due to its side effects. 

Another study looked at the deterioration levels of healthy, sexually active Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo users from across North America. The results demonstrated that women using Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo had a lesser amount of unscheduled bleeding/spotting for the first six cycles of use.

Noncontraceptive Benefits

Generally, combination birth control pills have been found to help regulate cycles, decrease painful menstrual cramps, help with menorrhagia (heavy bleeding), and reduce the risk of coloncancer, ovarian, and endometrial cancer.

It is believed that Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo may be particularly helpful in decreasing disruptive spotting and breakthrough bleeding — which tends to be a typical birth control pill side effect throughout the initial 3 months of usage.

A nationwide study compared women who employed Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo for 13 cycles to girls who used Loestrin Fe (another birth control pill with lower hormone levels). The results showed that — when compared to women who employed Loestrin Fe, women using Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo reported:

  • Lower breakthrough bleeding per cycle.
  • A lower speed of spotting/breakthrough bleeding during the first 3 months.
  • Reduced discontinuation rate because of irregular bleeding.

Some combination birth control pills may also help treat snoring. Back in 1997, Ortho Tri-Cyclen (NOT Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo) obtained FDA approval to help treat moderate acne in females that are at least 15 years old.

Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo does not have FDA approval to help fight acne — but research suggests that reduced estrogen pills (like Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo) are effective in the treatment of acne.

What Happens If I Miss Taking an Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo Pill?

Because the hormone levels are different in each and every week of an Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo pill pack, you will have to follow unique directions depending on which week you forget to take a pill. The following is a great guideline to follow (but you must always assess the pill prescribing information that comes with each monthly package ).

If You’re using Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo, and you neglect to take:

  • ONE White, Light Blue or Dark Blue Pill: afford the pill as soon as you remember, and take the next pill at your regular time (you will take two pills in 1 day); no backup contraception is needed.
  • TWO White Pills (Week 1) or TWO Light Blue (Week 2) Pills at a Row: Take two pills on the day you remember and 2 pills the Following Day. Then take one pill every day until you finish the pack; you could become pregnant if you have sex in the 7 days after you miss these pills, so use a backup birth control method for those 7 days.
  • TWO Dark Blue (Week 3) Pills at a Row: If you are a Sunday Starter, continue taking one pill every day until Sunday. On Sunday, throw out the remainder of the package and start a new pack of pills that same day. If you’re a Day 1 Starter, throw out your present Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo pill pack and begin a new pack that same day. If you forget to take two pills during Week 3, you may not have your withdrawal period this month, but you could become pregnant if you have sex in the 7 days after you miss these pills; use a backup method for those 7 days.
  • THREE or More White, Light Blue or Dark Blue Pills At a Row: Sunday Starter — keep taking one pill each day until Sunday. On Sunday, throw out the rest of the package and begin a fresh one. Day 1 Starter — throw out the remainder of the pill pack and start a new pack that same day. If you miss three or more pills, you may not have your period this month, however, you’re still at risk of becoming pregnant if you have sex in the 7 days after lacking these tablets; use backup contraception.
  • Any of the 7 Dark Green”Reminder” Pills (Week 4): throw away the pill(s) you missed and continue carrying these green pills every day until the pack is finished — you do not need a backup method.


Combination birth control pills are a highly effective and suitable form of contraception. Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo birth control pills are 91-99.7% successful. This means that using average usage, 9 out of each 100 women will get pregnant during the first year of Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo pill use. With perfect use, less than 1 will become pregnant. The type/amount of hormones in conjunction birth control pills do not change how effective the pill is. All mix pills essentially work the exact same means to prevent pregnancy.

Are you worried that Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo is not quite as successful as other birth control pills because it’s a lesser volume of hormones? If this is so, there’s absolutely no need to worry. Research shows that even though Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo contains a lower amount of hormones as compared to other combination pills, this brand of birth control pills remains a very effective contraceptive method.


It appears that the cost for Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo ranges between $45-$140 per one pack of tablets. There’s a generic alternative available –Tri-Lo Sprintec. Under the Affordable Care Act, you should be able to get the generic version of those birth control pills at no cost. Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo appears to be covered by over 80 percent of most health insurance programs. However , if you would like to purchase Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo (and not its generic option ), you’re most likely going to have a co-pay when purchasing this birth control pill brand.