Junel is a combined oral contraceptive, the most common type of birth control pill. It is a combined oral contraceptive because it contains a combination of two different types of hormones. It contains both an estrogen (ethinyl estradiol) and a progestin (norethindrone). The hormones in Junel prevent pregnancy primarily by stopping ovulation (the maturation and release of eggs from the ovaries).
Junel also works to prevent pregnancy in two other, less important ways. It changes the cervical mucus (the fluid of the cervix, which is the lower, narrow part of the uterus that is connected to the vagina), making it more difficult for sperm to enter the uterus. It also alters the lining of the uterus (the endometrium), making it less receptive to an embryo.
Unlike most birth control pills, Junel comes in packs with 21 tablets. It is meant to be taken every day for 21 days, followed by 7 days in between packs. Most other birth control pills have 28 tablets in each pack, but the last 7 contain no active ingredients. Either way, you get 21 days of active hormones, followed by a 7-day, hormone-free break.
General considerations for when and how to use Junel include the following:
- The medication comes in tablet form. It is taken by mouth once a day.
- Each pack of Junel contains 21 pills. Be sure to take them in order. Once you finish a pack, wait seven days before starting the next one. You will probably start your period during this week, but be sure to start the next pack on schedule, no matter when your period starts.
- You can take Junel with or without food. If the medication bothers your stomach, try taking it with food.
- It is important to take Junel every day and at the same time each day. Try to pick a time that will be easy to remember, such as at bedtime or breakfast. If you have trouble remembering, please talk with your healthcare provider, as missing pills increases your risk of pregnancy.
- Make sure you know exactly what to do if you miss any pills. In some circumstances, you may need to use a backup method of contraception, such as condoms, for a week.
- For the medication to work properly, it must be taken as prescribed. Junel will not work if you stop taking it.