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Nortrel and Pregnancy

Nortrel should not intentionally be used during pregnancy. Nortrel is classified as a pregnancy Category X medication, meaning that it could lead to serious problems when taken during pregnancy (such as miscarriages or birth defects). However, many studies on birth control pills (such as Nortrel) and pregnancy have shown that that there is no increased risk of birth defects when birth control pills are accidentally taken during early pregnancy.

An Overview of Nortrel and Pregnancy

Nortrel® (norethindrone and ethinyl estradiol) is a birth control pill, known medically as an oral contraceptive. If you are pregnant, you should not intentionally take any birth control pills (including Nortrel). Although doing so is probably unlikely to cause serious problems, there is no valid reason to take Nortrel during pregnancy.
Most women who take birth control pills during pregnancy do so accidentally, before they realize they are pregnant. Keep in mind that if you take Nortrel correctly (without missing any pills), the risk of pregnancy is quite low. If you miss your period while taking Nortrel, you may want to consider making sure you are not pregnant (an over-the-counter pregnancy test should be sufficient), especially if you have missed any of the pills. If you miss two periods in a row, you should definitely make sure you are not pregnant.

Nortrel and Pregnancy Category X

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) uses a pregnancy category system to classify the possible risks to a fetus when a specific medicine is taken during pregnancy. Pregnancy Category X is given to medications that should not be used during pregnancy, usually due to serious problems that could occur (such as birth defects or miscarriages).
Although it is "common knowledge" that taking birth control pills during early pregnancy is very dangerous, the truth is that doing so is not likely to cause any serious problems (even though Nortrel is a pregnancy Category X medication). Many studies have shown that there is no increased risk of birth defects when birth control pills are accidentally taken during early pregnancy. However, because certain risks cannot be completely ruled out and because there is no good reason to take Nortrel during pregnancy, you should never intentionally take this contraceptive during pregnancy. Nortrel will not prevent (or cause) a miscarriage and serves no medical purpose for pregnant women.
If you accidentally used Nortrel for a while before you realized you were pregnant, it probably will not cause any problems (although you should discuss this with your healthcare provider). If you are pregnant, you should stop using Nortrel right away. If you think you may be pregnant, you should contact your healthcare provider for further instructions.
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD
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