Ortho Tri-CyclenŽ
Brand Name: Ortho Tri-Cyclen
Active Ingredient:   norgestimate/ethinyl estradiol
Strength(s): 50 mg 
Dosage Form(s):   Pill
Company Name:    Ortho-McNeil
Availability:         Prescription only
*Date Approved by the FDA:   December 31, 1996
*Approval by FDA does not mean that the drug is available for consumers at this time

What is Ortho Tri-Cyclen used for?

Ortho Tri-Cyclen is an estrogen and progestin combination used to prevent pregnancy. It may also be used to regulate the menstrual cycle, treat symptoms of menopause, or treat other conditions as determined by your doctor.  

Who should not take Ortho Tri-Cyclen?

Cigarette smoking increases the risk of serious adverse effects on the heart and blood vessels from the use of hormonal birth control methods. This risk increases with age and with heavy smoking (15 or more cigarettes per day) and is quite marked in women over 35 years of age. Women who use hormonal birth control methods should not smoke. 

Ortho Tri-Cyclen should not be used by women who have: 

  • a history of heart attack or stroke 
  • blood clots in the legs, lungs (pulmonary embolism), or eyes 
  • a history of blood clots in the deep veins of the legs 
  • chest pain 
  • known or suspected breast cancer or cancer of the lining of the uterus, cervix or vagina 
  • unexplained vaginal bleeding 
  •  yellowing of the whites of the eyes or of the skin (jaundice) during pregnancy or during previous use of hormonal contraceptives 
  • liver tumor (benign or cancerous) 
  • known or suspected pregnancy 
  • severe high blood pressure 
  • diabetes with complications of the kidneys, eyes, nerves, or blood vessels 
  • an allergy to Ortho Tri-Cyclen or to any of its ingredients 

General Precautions with Ortho Tri-Cyclen:

Smoking cigarettes while using this medicine may increase your risk of stroke, heart attack, blood clots, high blood pressure, or other diseases of the heart and blood vessels. If you have vomiting or diarrhea for any reason, your medicine may not work as well. Taking certain antibiotics or anticonvulsants while you are using this medicine may decrease the effectiveness of this medicine. To prevent pregnancy, use an additional form of birth control until your next period. If you have any questions, contact your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist. Before you have any medical or dental treatments, emergency care, or surgery, tell the doctor or dentist that you are using this medicine. If you wear contact lenses and you develop problems with them, contact your doctor. Before you begin taking any new medicine, either prescription or over-the-counter, check with your doctor or pharmacist. This medicine may cause dark skin patches on your face. Exposure to the sun may make these patches darker. If patches develop, use a sunscreen or protective clothing when exposed to the sun, sunlamps, or tanning booths. Use of this medicine will not prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Do not use this medicine if you are pregnant. If you suspect that you could be pregnant, contact your doctor immediately. This medicine is excreted in breast milk. If you are or will be breast-feeding while you are using this medicine, check with your doctor or pharmacist to discuss the risks to your baby. If overdose is suspected, contact your local poison control center or emergency room immediately. Symptoms of overdose may include restlessness, tremor, rapid breathing, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramps.

  • smoke 
  • have high blood pressure, diabetes, or high cholesterol 
  • have or have had clotting disorders, heart attack, stroke, chest pain (angina pectoris), and cancer of the breast or reproductive organs, jaundice, or malignant or benign liver tumors

What should I tell my health care provider?

Tell your health care provider: 

  • about all your medical conditions 
  • if you smoke cigarettes 
  • about all the medications you take, including prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, and herbal supplements. Some medicines can affect Ortho Tri-Cyclen and make it less effective.

What are some possible side effects of Ortho Tri-Cyclen? (This is NOT a complete list of side effects reported with Ortho Tri-Cyclen. Your health care provider can discuss with you a more complete list of side effects.)

Some common side effects with combination hormonal contraceptives like Ortho Tri-Cyclen are: 

  • breast tenderness and enlargement 
  • headache 
  • nausea 
  • menstrual changes 
  • abdominal cramps and bloating 
  • vaginal discharge 

Ortho Tri-Cyclen may also cause skin irritation at the application site. 

For more detailed information about Ortho Tri-Cyclen, ask your health care provider and pharmacist.

Search the Web for more info:  

Recent Forum Posts on Ortho Tri-Cyclen

Effectiveness with Diarrhea

I have been searching everywhere possible for concrete information regarding the pills effectiveness with Diarrhea. I am due for AF in 4 days (took an ept and it was negative). For the past 2 weeks I have experience Diarrhea at all times of the day on and off. In the past week I have been dizzy, fatigued, my appetite has increased and slight cramping (almost a tugging feeling different from pms cramping). Is it possible the pill did not absorb properly and I could be pregnant?

Heart Attack

My healthy 25 year old sister took Ortho Tri cyclen Lo for 6 DAYS. She suffered from a moderate heart attack!!! Did I mention she is only 25 and perfectly healthy! She had a blood clot in the artery in her heart. They had to insert a stint in her heart, via her femeral artery. The cardiologist says that it was definately caused by Ortho. I have taken this medication for years and have had very little problems. Now I am reconsidering my options! I want everyone to be aware of the possible side affects. Your risk of blood clots goes up dramatically from taking the pill.


orthro cylcen made me gain weight, not so much in my boobs but more so in my tummy and my theighs. It also gave me lots of nasty horrible painful headaches. I felt morning sickness at times and it did make me moody. It made me bloated a lot and eat like crazy!

Throwing up once a month, sweating! help!

Hi, I have been on the pill for about 3 months now. I take it for regulation only. Once a month starting on my second month I begin to throw up one of the days with the white pills in the begining. This has become so painful. I throw up in class when thsi happens and i must go home. I switched my schedule to take it before bed that way I wont have the embarassment of this in class. My question is, Should i stop this altogether? I dont think its worth it really. I get so scared. I just feel it and i sweat and panic than i cant handle it any longer and thats it. Everywhere! yuk! Anyone have this problem?

Ortho tri-cyclen ...insuance?

Is there any way to get insurance to cover this? iv'e been on it for the past 5 months it's the only thing that works for me but health choice will no longer cover it for me. please help. im desperate with out it i bleed all month long and have HORRIBLE acne

No Subject

I just started the pill a month ago. I feel fine but i have noticed that i'm always hungery and my breast are tender and i think getting bigger which is not good. i'm already b/w a C and D cup. After reading everyones responses to the pill it has made me a little scared to continue taking it. however it is better then getting preagnat. I'm only 20 and I just started having sex. So if any one has any advise or anything i would greatly welcome it.

It's Good

I started Ortho Tri Cyclen in April of 2002 right after I had my daughter and have been on it ever since. It basically works great except for once in a while I will feel almost as if I am pregnant, other then that its great. My periods come regularly and they are very light. It also works great for the skin.

great pill

I have been on this birth control two times now. It is great. I tried ortho novem 777 for about 5 years . it was good. I changed to tri cyclen for the acne clearing effects. It was great. I went off and got pregnant with my son. Now I am back on it. Just as good as the first time. Now side effects. i would recommend to anyone.


My opinion is you're your own best doctor, but its different strokes for different folks. all of the comments that i have read thus far mention nothing about breast tenderness or enhancement while taking the pill. my experience was a little different. since my son was born in february, i guess you can say my breasts married my knees. i had a killer body and breasts until the baby. i tried EVERYTHING in the book, home remedies, herbal supplements, creams, you name it. nothing worked. i knew that my body lacked the production of estrogen (and im a smoker so that doesnt help) then i found out about the patch. the only thing was it gave me a rash and every time i put on a patch every patch change week, i threw up. ifelt preggo again. then i switched to the pill (ortho cyclen) recently from taking the patch for two months and i noticed within five days from taking the pill my breast feels like engorgement (when your breasts produce milk. you know, the painful feeling of swelling) and this is the first time i can say that a method like this is effective. thats MY reason for taking birth control. now that my breasts look a whole lot better (did i mention within five days?) im working on my stomach stretch marks now. i have a method that im trying if anyone wants to message me. im only 17 years old so you know im desperate because i need my youth back! (email: babe6191@yahoo.com)

No Subject

I've been on ortho tricycline lo for about 6 months now and I
also have severe cramping like never before. It did however clear up my skin alot and I can tell to the day when I will get my period. I think maybe it has increased my moodiness a bit now that i think of it.


All the comments so far speak of nothing about high blood pressure.
I've been on Ortho-Tri for 1 year and 4 months and my most recent visit at the clinic (February 08) I found out that I had high blood pressure 132/80.
I've been on it for so long and my last vist(october 07) I had normal blood pressure so it's scary knowing that I have that high of a reading for being only 19yrs old. I'm still on the pill but after reading all the comments online I'm no longer going to continue taking it.
I've also been experiencing shortness of breath & increased heart rate.
I really don't want any cardiovascular problems.
Is there a pill out there that has less progestron(sp)because I hear that's what causes hbp for women who take birth control.


have been on ortho tri-cyclen lo for almosts 2 months now. have experienced extreme bloating, terrible cramping, and two periods in a months time. i hate this drug. my sister says seasonique is much better.

No Subject

I was on orthotricyclen lo for about 2 years, and have been on the regular orthotricyclen for 3 months. The only mild differences that I've noticed is that I may have gained a few pounds and I have slightly more nausea during the first two or three mornings of the cycle, but I take dramamine and it helps a lot. Generally on both pills, my facial skin is clearer, my period is lighter and shorter, my cramps are virtually gone, my breasts are larger, and my period is perfectly regular. I haven't noticed a difference in libido, any excessive mood changes, and I have never gotten any spotting, but I do sometimes get headaches towards the evening. I initially went on the pill to prevent facial hair growth, and neither pill has stopped it completely but I think it has gotten a little better.

ortho tri cyclen lo

I am on my 5th month of ortho tri cyclen lo... I am so moody. There are times that I snap at anyone, when normally, I am easy going. Also, I get terrible cramps at the beginning of the cycle(white pills)
has this ever happened to anyone else? I am afraid to try another brand, because, supposedly this is the lowest dose there is.

ortho tri cyclen

I was on ortho tri cyclen for 10 years. I had my tubes tied at age 42 and went off the pill. my experience was as such, it cleared up my acne; but I was spotting all the time and gained about 20 pounds after going off the pill. I also have spider vains on my legs. Has anyone experienced the same effects of weight gain post taking the pill? I am very concerned about the weight gain since I eat less and exercise and have always been thin my whole life.

No Subject

I think the pill works great. I haven't experienced any problems while taking this pill. It has worked great for my skin. I would recommend this pill to others.

No Subject

I have gained a little weight, but a few pounds is worth the clear skin, regular, pain-free periods, and almost no PMS whatsoever! My periods used to be so heavy and long that I couldn't focus on my life. All that is gone, and I haven't had cramps since I started taking the pill. Obviously, you should listen to your own body. We're all different.

I hate this stuff

I was on this pill for a couple years and now I'm on the lo version. I absolutely hate it. I can tell that I'm way moodier, especially right after I take it. Also, I'm in the sun a lot and use a lot of sunscreen, but the pill amplifies the effects of the sun, causing my skin to be a lot more freckled than I'd like it to be. The worst part, though, is that it created spider veins up and down my legs. I'm thinking about switching to the clamp.


I would not tell anyone to use this! I have tried this pill fro about 6months and then got off because of weight gain. I then switched to the lo dose, big mistake. More weight gain, terrible pains in my chest and legs, acne breakouts and can you say a complete bitch. This pill just screws you up in so many different ways. THen again some love it, but there are women who are allergic to some types of BC. After talkging with my mom and other women in my family i decided to swtich to Yasmin, we will just have to see how it goes this time....

No Subject

Ortho Tri Cyclen caused me to experience continous breakthrough bleeding & spotting. I would not recommend this oral contraceptive to anyone!

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