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All about: Quasense extended-cycle oral contraceptive

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Generic Name: ethinyl estradiol and levonorgestrel (extended-cycle oral contraceptive) (ETH in ill ess tra DYE ol and lee voe nor JESS trel)
Brand Names: Jolessa, Quasense, Seasonale, Seasonique

What is ethinyl estradiol and levonorgestrel extended-cycle?

Ethinyl estradiol and levonorgestrel extended-cycle contains a combination of female hormones that prevent ovulation (the release of an egg from an ovary). This medication also causes changes in your cervical mucous and uterine lining, making it harder for sperm to reach the uterus and harder for a fertilized egg to attach to the uterus.

Ethinyl estradiol and levonorgestrel extended-cycle are used as contraception to prevent pregnancy.

Ethinyl estradiol and levonorgestrel extended-cycle may also be used for purposes other than those listed in this medication guide.

What is the most important information I should know about ethinyl estradiol and levonorgestrel extended-cycle?

Do not use ethinyl estradiol and levonorgestrel extended-cycle if you are pregnant or if you have recently had a baby. Do not use this medication if you have any of the following conditions: a history of stroke or blood clot, circulation problems (especially if caused by diabetes), a hormone-related cancer such as breast or uterine cancer, abnormal vaginal bleeding, liver disease or liver cancer, severe high blood pressure, migraine headaches, a heart valve disorder, or a history of jaundice caused by birth control pills.

You may need to use back-up birth control, such as condoms or a spermicide, when you first start using this medication. Follow your doctor's instructions.

Taking hormones can increase your risk of blood clots, stroke, or heart attack, especially if you smoke and are older than 35.

Some drugs can make birth control pills less effective, which may result in pregnancy. Tell your doctor about all the prescription and over-the-counter medications you use, including vitamins, minerals and herbal products. Do not start using a new medication without telling your doctor.

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking ethinyl estradiol and levonorgestrel extended-cycle?

This medication can cause birth defects. Do not use if you are pregnant. Tell your doctor right away if you become pregnant, or if you miss two menstrual periods in a row. If you have recently had a baby, wait at least 4 weeks before taking birth control pills (6 weeks if you are breast-feeding). Do not use this medication if you have:
  • a history of a stroke or blood clot;

  • circulation problems (especially if caused by diabetes);

  • a hormone-related cancer such as breast or uterine cancer;

  • abnormal vaginal bleeding;

  • liver disease or liver cancer;

  • severe high blood pressure;

  • severe migraine headaches;

  • a heart valve disorder; or

  • a history of jaundice caused by birth control pills.

Before using this medication, tell your doctor if you have any of the following conditions. You may not be able to use birth control pills, or you may need a dosage adjustment or special tests during treatment.

  • high blood pressure, heart disease, congestive heart failure, angina (chest pain), or a history of heart attack;

  • high cholesterol or if you are overweight;

  • a history of depression;

  • gallbladder disease;

  • diabetes;

  • seizures or epilepsy;

  • a history of irregular menstrual cycles; or

  • a history of fibrocystic breast disease, lumps, nodules, or an abnormal mammogram.

The hormones in birth control pills can pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. This medication may also slow breast milk production. Do not use if you are breast-feeding a baby.

How should I take ethinyl estradiol and levonorgestrel extended-cycle?

Take this medication exactly as it was prescribed for you. Do not take larger amounts, or take it for longer than recommended by your doctor. You will take your first pill on the first day of your period or on the first Sunday after your period begins (follow your doctor's instructions).

You may need to use back-up birth control, such as condoms or a spermicide, when you first start using this medication. Follow your doctor's instructions.

You will not have a menstrual period every month while you are taking an extended-cycle birth control pill. Instead, your period should occur every 12 weeks.

The 91-day birth control pack contains three trays with cards that hold 84 "active" pills and seven "reminder" pills. You must use the pills in a certain order to keep you on a regular cycle. Trays 1 and 2 each hold 28 pills. Tray 3 holds 35 pills, including the 7 reminder pills. Your period should begin while you are using these reminder pills.

Take one pill every day, no more than 24 hours apart. When the pills run out, start a new pack the following day. You may get pregnant if you do not use this medication regularly. Get your prescription refilled before you run out of pills completely.

You may have breakthrough bleeding while taking birth control pills. Tell your doctor if this bleeding continues or is very heavy.

If you need to have any type of medical tests or surgery, or if you will be on bed rest, you may need to stop using this medication for a short time. Any doctor or surgeon who treats you should know that you are using birth control pills.

Your doctor will need to see you on a regular basis while you are using this medication. Do not miss any appointments.

Store this medication at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Missing a pill increases your risk of becoming pregnant.

If you miss one "active" pill, take two pills on the day that you remember. Then take one pill per day for the rest of the pack.

If you miss two "active" pills in a row, take two pills per day for two days in a row. Then take one pill per day for the rest of the pack. Use back-up birth control for at least 7 days following the missed pills.

If you miss three "active" pills in a row, do not take the missed pills. Continue taking 1 pill per day on schedule according to the pill package and leave the missed pills in the package. You may have some bleeding or spotting if you miss three pills in a row. Use back-up birth control for at least the next 7 days.

If you miss any reminder pills, throw them away and keep taking one pill per day until the pack is empty. You do not need back-up birth control if you miss a reminder pill. If your period does not start while you are taking the reminder pills, call your doctor because you might be pregnant.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention if you think you have used too much of this medicine. Symptoms of an overdose may include nausea, vomiting, and vaginal bleeding.

What should I avoid while taking ethinyl estradiol and levonorgestrel extended-cycle?

Do not smoke while using birth control pills, especially if you are older than 35. Smoking can increase your risk of blood clots, stroke, or heart attack caused by birth control pills.

Birth control pills will not protect you from sexually transmitted diseases--including HIV and AIDS. Using a condom is the only way to protect yourself from these diseases.

What are the possible side effects of ethinyl estradiol and levonorgestrel extended-cycle?

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat. Stop using this medication and call your doctor at once if you have any of these serious side effects:
  • sudden numbness or weakness, especially on one side of the body;

  • sudden headache, confusion, pain behind the eyes, problems with vision, speech, or balance;

  • chest pain or heavy feeling, pain spreading to the arm or shoulder, nausea, sweating, general ill feeling;

  • a change in the pattern or severity of migraine headaches;

  • nausea, stomach pain, low fever, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes);

  • swelling in your hands, ankles, or feet; or

  • symptoms of depression (sleep problems, weakness, mood changes).

Keep using the medication and talk to your doctor if you have any of these less serious side effects:

  • mild nausea, vomiting, bloating, stomach cramps;

  • breast pain, tenderness, or swelling;

  • freckles or darkening of facial skin;

  • increased hair growth, loss of scalp hair;

  • changes in weight or appetite;

  • problems with contact lenses;

  • vaginal itching or discharge;

  • changes in your menstrual periods, decreased sex drive; or

  • headache, nervousness, dizziness, tired feeling.

This list is not complete and other side effects may occur. Tell your doctor about any unusual or bothersome side effect.

What other drugs will affect ethinyl estradiol and levonorgestrel extended-cycle?

The following drugs can make birth control pills less effective, which may result in pregnancy:

  • acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ascorbic acid (vitamin C);

  • phenylbutazone (Azolid, Butazolidin);

  • prednisolone (Orapred);

  • theophylline (Respbid, Theo-Dur);

  • cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune, Gengraf);

  • St. John's wort;

  • antibiotics such as amoxicillin (Augmentin), ampicillin (Omnipen), doxycycline (Doryx, Vibramycin), griseofulvin (Grisactin, Grifulvin, Fulvicin), minocycline (Minocin), penicillin (Veetids, Pen Vee K, Bicillin), rifampin (Rifadin), rifabutin (Mycobutin), tetracycline, and others;

  • seizure medicines such as phenytoin (Dilantin), carbamazepine (Tegretol), felbamate (Felbatol), oxcarbazepine (Trileptal), topiramate (Topamax), or primidone (Mysoline);

  • a barbiturate such as amobarbital (Amytal), butabarbital (Butisol), mephobarbital (Mebaral), secobarbital (Seconal), or phenobarbital (Luminal, Solfoton); or

  • HIV medicines such as indinavir (Crixivan), saquinavir (Invirase), lopinavir/ritonavir (Kaletra), fosamprenavir (Lexiva), ritonavir (Norvir), or nelfinavir (Viracept), and others.

There may be other drugs not listed that can affect birth control pills. Tell your doctor about all the prescription and over-the-counter medications you use. This includes vitamins, minerals, herbal products, and drugs prescribed by other doctors. Do not start using a new medication without telling your doctor.

Where can I get more information?

  • Your pharmacist can provide more information about ethinyl estradiol and levonorgestrel extended-cycle.

  • Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.
  • Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.
Copyright 1996-2006 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 3.02. Revision Date: 08/14/2007 11:07:40 PM.

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