Ortho Tri-Cyclen and Breastfeeding

If you are taking a combined oral contraceptive, such as Ortho Tri-Cyclen, breastfeeding should generally be avoided. Research shows that the hormones in the birth control pill pass through breast milk. These amounts are probably too low to cause significant or long-term problems in the nursing infant, but it may decrease the production and quality of breast milk.

Is Ortho Tri-Cyclen Safe During Breastfeeding?

Ortho Tri-Cyclen® (norgestimate/ethinyl estradiol) is a prescription birth control pill. Although some birth control pills are considered okay while breastfeeding, most are not recommended. In particular, "combined" oral contraceptives (such as Ortho Tri-Cyclen) should usually be avoided. Combined oral contraceptives, which contain both a progestin hormone and an estrogen hormone, are the most commonly used type of birth control pill.
(Ortho Tri-Cyclen is equivalent to Norgestimate and Ethinyl Estradiol, Tri-Estarylla™, Tri-Linyah™, Tri-Sprintec®, TriNessa®, and Tri-Previfem® birth control pills. The information in this article also applies to each of these medications.)

Ortho Tri-Cyclen and Breastfeeding: What Does the Research Say?

Research suggests that the hormones in birth control pill pass through breast milk 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.
Although combined oral contraceptives are effective at preventing pregnancy, they are usually not recommended for breastfeeding women. Combined oral contraceptives may decrease the production 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 Ortho Tri-Cyclen.

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Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD
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