Ortho Tri-Cyclen Warnings and Precautions

Specific Ortho Tri-Cyclen Warnings and Precautions

Warnings and precautions to be aware of prior to using Ortho Tri-Cyclen include the following:
  • Make sure you understand exactly how to take Ortho Tri-Cyclen, including how and when to start it and what to do if you miss pills. When taken correctly, the drug is effective for preventing pregnancy. However, it becomes much less effective if taken incorrectly. Most cases of accidental pregnancy while taking "the pill" (including Ortho Tri-Cyclen) are due to incorrect usage.
  • Ortho Tri-Cyclen does not protect against HIV, AIDS, or other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). In many cases, it is advisable to use condoms in addition to Ortho Tri-Cyclen.
  • Combined oral contraceptives such as Ortho Tri-Cyclen 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. Make sure to 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 Ortho Tri-Cyclen side effects. This risk is particularly high for smokers over the age of 35.
  • Ortho Tri-Cyclen can interact with a number of different medications (see Ortho Tri-Cyclen Drug Interactions).
  • 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 Ortho Tri-Cyclen 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.
  • Ortho Tri-Cyclen may increase blood sugar, particularly in women with diabetes. Your healthcare provider may need to monitor you more closely. 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 Ortho Tri-Cyclen and other hormonal contraceptives).
  • Hormonal contraceptives, including Ortho Tri-Cyclen, can increase your blood pressure. This can be a problem if you already have high blood pressure.
  • Ortho Tri-Cyclen 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 Ortho Tri-Cyclen. 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.
  • Ortho Tri-Cyclen can affect your cholesterol. Your healthcare provider may need to check your cholesterol levels after you start the drug, 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 Ortho Tri-Cyclen.
  • Occasionally, Ortho Tri-Cyclen, as well as any other hormonal contraceptive, can cause eye changes that make it more difficult to wear contact lenses.
  • Ortho Tri-Cyclen is considered a pregnancy Category X medication. This means that it should not be used during pregnancy (see Ortho Tri-Cyclen and Pregnancy).
  • Contraceptive hormones (such as the ones in Ortho Tri-Cyclen) 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 Ortho Tri-Cyclen and Breastfeeding). Combined hormonal contraceptives such as Ortho Tri-Cyclen are not usually recommended for breastfeeding women.
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD
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