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Sprintec Birth Control Pills (Norgestimate and Ethinyl Estradiol)



Table Of Contents

What are Sprintec birth control pills?

Sprintec (in Canada known as “Ortho Cyclen”) is a brand of birth control pills that aid in preventing pregnancy. Ortho Cyclen birth control pills also aid in making periods more regular and less painful, decreasing blood loss, and decreasing risk of ovarian cysts.

Sprintec dosages have a combination of two hormones (a progestin and an estrogen) that prevent ovulation (the release of an egg from an ovary). Norgestimate and ethinyl estradiol pills (generic name for Sprintec) also increase the thickness of vaginal fluid to help prevent fertilization (the sperm reaching an egg). In addition, Sprintec pills change the lining of the uterus to prevent attachment of a fertilized egg. A fertilized egg passes out of the body if it is unable to attach to the uterus.

Norgestimate and ethinyl estradiol tablets might also be used for functions not listed in this medication guide.

Important Information

Consult with a doctor before taking Sprintec birth control tablets.

Do not take Sprintec dosages if the following concerns have been or are currently apparent: uncontrolled high blood pressure, heart disease, blood clotting disorder, circulation issues, diabetic issues with eyes or kidneys, unusual vaginal bleeding, liver disease or liver cancer, acute migraine headaches, breast or uterine cancer, jaundice due to birth control pills, depression, gallbladder problems, heart issues, severe headaches or migraines.

Taking Sprintec birth control pills can raise the risk of heart attack, stroke, or blood clots. These risks are higher for smokers and people over 35 years of age. Do not use Norgestimate and ethinyl estradiol birth control if you smoke cigarettes.

Taking a Sprintec dose will not protect against sexually transmitted diseases.

What to know before taking a Sprintec Dosage

Taking Sprintec dosages can raise your risk of heart attack, stroke, or blood clots. You’re more at risk if you smoke or have high blood pressure, diabetes, or high cholesterol. As mentioned above, consult your doctor before taking Sprintec or Ortho Cyclen birth control pills.

Taking Sprintec pills might affect other medications in your system or create alternative  side effects. Keep a list of all medication products you use and ensure your doctor is aware. The doctor should approve your Sprintec dosage prior to use.

Do not use Ortho Cyclen birth control if currently pregnant or recently had a baby. A Sprintec dosage can be passed through breast milk and can slow down the production of breast milk, so do not use birth control while breastfeeding a baby.

Some risks of taking birth control tablets include:

  • blood clots
  • blotchy, dark ares on skin (melasma)
  • vision problems
  • decreased breast milk production
  • difficulty becoming pregnant after stopping the pill

If you have any of the following you should not be taking birth control pills (also see Important Information above):

  • gallbladder disease
  • uncontrolled or untreated high blood pressure
  • circulation problems or blood-clotting disorder
  • diabetes
  • liver cancer or liver disease
  • a history of abnormal mammogram, lumps, fibrocystic breast disease or nodules
  • problems with kidneys, eyes or circulation caused by diabetes
  • severe migraine headaches
  • heart disease

Please note that the above list is not a full complete list and you should consult your physician or doctor for medical advice before taking any form of birth control.

How to take a Sprintec dose

For information on taking a Sprintec dose, follow the directions given by your doctor or on the prescription label.

You may have to use backup birth control, like a spermicide or condoms, when you begin using Sprintec birth control. A Sprintec dosage takes approx. one month to cycle through and begin working in your body. Follow the directions of your physician.

Sprintec is an oral pill that is swallowed, usually once daily. Pick a time of day that is easy to remember, and take the Sprintec pill at the same time every day. It is important that the pill is taken 24 hours apart.

A Sprintec 28 pill pack includes 21 pills with active medication and 7 reminder pills with no medication. Sprintec 21 may also be available which includes 21 pills with active medication and no reminder pills. A 7 day break in medication is still required, there is just no need for taking the reminder pills.

Tell your physician if bleeding is significant, irregular, or continues past the 7 day cycle.

See a physician regularly while taking birth control pills. This is required to ensure proper health and continued use of the birth control (prescription required).

Can you overdose on Sprintec birth control?

If required, find emergency medical attention as soon as possible. Otherwise US residents should call the Poison Help line at 1 (800) 222-1222. Canada residents should call a provincial poison control centre. Symptoms of overdose may include, but are not limited to; severe nausea, vomiting, or unusual vaginal bleeding.

What if you miss a Sprintec birth control pill?

In the case of Sprintec missed pills, follow the patient instructions supplied with your medication. If you do not understand these directions, ask your physician or pharmacist.

You may need to use back-up birth control (such as condoms) for a short time period to prevent pregnancy.

You may not have a period during the month if you miss a couple of pills. Alternately, your period may arrive at unscheduled times. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions or concerns.

If you frequently notice Sprintec missed pills, contact your doctor and consider switching to another form of birth control.

If you miss a reminder pill during the 7 day cycle it will have no effect, just skip it and continue with the rest of the pack until empty.

Things to avoid while taking Sprintec

Do not smoke while taking Sprintec or Ortho Cyclen birth control pills, particularly if older than 35 years of age.

Norgestimate and ethinyl estradiol birth control pills will not protect from sexually transmitted diseases–including HIV and AIDS. Using a condom is the only way to shield yourself from these risks.

Sprintec side effects

Common questions about birth control side effects are on topics such as Sprintec acne, Sprintec weight gain, etc.

If your Physician has recommended and prescribed Sprintec birth control to you, they feel that the benefit to you outweighs the risk of any side effects. Some of these side effects are unlikely. However here is a list of common Sprintec side effects:

  • vomiting and nausea
  • headaches
  • stomach or abdominal pain
  • bloating or weight change
  • breast tenderness or swelling
  • swelling of the ankles or feet
  • changes in appetite
  • changes in complexion
  • vaginal itching, bleeding or discharge
  • changes in menstrual periods or irregular periods
  • reduced sex drive
  • increased blood pressure

Discontinue using Sprintec pills and call your physician if you have experienced:

  • pressure or chest pain
  • vision problems
  • allergic reactions (rash, fever, itching, dizziness, etc)

This is not a complete list of Sprintec side effects.

Call your physician if you experience any negative side effects or if you miss 2 periods in a row.


Medically reviewed by Dr. Gerardo Sison, Pharm.D.

Dr. Gerardo Sison, MD

Gerardo Sison, Pharm.D., is a registered pharmacist who has worked in clinical and retail settings providing drug education for healthcare professionals and patients alike. He graduated Cum Laude from the University of Florida where he earned a Doctorate of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.). He piloted a longitudinal clinical research program and completed his clinical internship at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa, Florida. Read More >>