Specific Alesse Warnings and Precautions
Warnings and precautions to be aware of prior to using Alesse
include the following:
- Alesse can interact with a number of different medications (see Alesse Drug Interactions). Many of these interactions are severe enough to lead to unintentional pregnancy.
- When taken correctly, Alesse is effective at preventing pregnancy. However, it becomes much less effective if taken incorrectly. Make sure you understand exactly how to take Alesse, including how and when to start it and what to do if you miss pills.
- Alesse does not protect against HIV, AIDS, or other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). In many cases, it is advisable to use condoms in addition to the drug.
- Combined oral contraceptives, including Alesse, increase the risk of life-threatening problems, such as heart attacks, strokes, and blood clots. The risk is quite small for healthy, young, nonsmoking women. However, tell your healthcare provider if you have ever had a blood clot, stroke, heart attack, or chest pain. Smoking cigarettes greatly increases the risk of these serious Alesse side effects. This risk is particularly high for smokers over the age of 35.
- Combined oral contraceptives may slightly increase the risk of breast cancer or cervical cancer, although this is an unresolved and controversial issue. However, combined oral contraceptives seem to help protect women against ovarian and uterine cancer.
- Oral contraceptives increase the risk of benign (noncancerous) liver tumors. In rare cases, these tumors can rupture and cause serious problems.
- Hormonal contraceptives such as Alesse may make gallbladder disease worse. If you have had a problem with your gallbladder, this medication may not be the best contraceptive method for you.
- Alesse may increase blood sugar, particularly in women with diabetes. Your healthcare provider may need to monitor you more closely in this case. Let your healthcare provider know if you have any sudden vision changes, as this may be a sign of a blood clot in the eyes (a possible side effect of Alesse and other hormonal contraceptives).
- Hormonal contraceptives, including Alesse, can increase your blood pressure. This can be a problem if you already have high blood pressure.
- Alesse can change your menstrual bleeding patterns. Some women have breakthrough bleeding (bleeding between periods), while others may not have a period at all. It is normal to have shorter and lighter periods while using Alesse. However, if you notice any unusual changes in your bleeding patterns, let your healthcare provider know. If you miss a period, you should make sure you are not pregnant.
- The medication can affect your cholesterol. Your healthcare provider may need to check your cholesterol levels after you start Alesse, especially if you already have high cholesterol.
- Sometimes, hormonal contraceptives may make depression worse. Let your healthcare provider know if you develop new or worsening depression symptoms while taking Alesse.
- Occasionally, Alesse (as well as any other hormonal contraceptive) can cause eye changes that make it more difficult to wear contact lenses.
- Alesse is considered a pregnancy Category X medication. This means that it should not be used during pregnancy (see Alesse and Pregnancy).
- Contraceptive hormones, such as the ones in Alesse, pass through breast milk. Therefore, if you are breastfeeding or plan to start, discuss this with your healthcare provider prior to taking the drug (see Alesse and Breastfeeding). Combined hormonal contraceptives are not usually recommended for breastfeeding women.