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Lo/Ovral and Breastfeeding

Women who are nursing should typically avoid Lo/Ovral. Breastfeeding women are often urged to temporarily switch to a progestin-only oral contraceptive, because combined oral contraceptives (such as Lo/Ovral) can reduce the quantity and quality of breast milk. Everyone's situation is different, however, so talk to your healthcare provider about Lo/Ovral and breastfeeding in your particular situation.

Is Lo/Ovral Safe During Breastfeeding?

Lo/Ovral® (norgestrel/ethinyl estradiol) is a prescription oral contraceptive (birth control pill). It is a combined oral contraceptive, named so because it contains a combination of a progestin and an estrogen hormone. Combined oral contraceptives such as Lo/Ovral should usually be avoided if you are still breastfeeding. Although combined oral contraceptives are effective at preventing pregnancy, they are usually not recommended for breastfeeding women.
 
(Lo/Ovral is equivalent to Cryselle®, Elinest™, and Low-Ogestrel® birth control pills. The information in this article also applies to both of these medications.)

Lo/Ovral and Breastfeeding: What Does the Research Say?

Studies have shown that the hormones in birth control pills pass through breast milk, although usually in low amounts. These amounts are probably too low to cause significant or long-lasting problems in nursing infants. There have been cases of problems, such as jaundice and breast enlargement, in babies whose mothers took other combined oral contraceptives while breastfeeding.
More importantly, combined contraceptives (including Lo/Ovral) may negatively affect the quantity and quality of breast milk. For this reason, progestin-only oral contraceptives (also known as "mini-pills") are almost always recommended instead of combined contraceptives in breastfeeding women. However, progestin-only contraceptive pills are usually much less effective than combined oral contraceptives. As soon as you stop breastfeeding, it may be a good idea to ask your healthcare provider about switching to a combined contraceptive product, such as Lo/Ovral.
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD
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