Alesse is a combined oral contraceptive that is available only by prescription. This birth control pill is called a combined oral contraceptive and contains a combination of two different types of hormones: estrogen and progestin. Alesse comes in tablet form and is taken once a day. While most people tolerate the drug well, side effects can include nausea, breast tenderness, and headaches.

What Is Alesse?

Alesse® (levonorgestrel/ethinyl estradiol) is a prescription oral contraceptive (commonly known as a birth control pill). The following generic birth control pills are equivalent to Alesse:
  • Aviane® (made by Barr Pharmaceuticals, Inc.)
  • Falmina™ (made by Novast Laboratories)
  • Levonorgestrel and Ethinyl Estradiol (made by Lupin Pharmaceuticals, Inc.) 
  • Lutera™ (made by Watson Pharmaceuticals, Inc.)
  • Orsythia™ (made by Patheon, Inc., for Qualitest Pharmaceuticals USA).
(Click Alesse Uses for more information, including possible off-label uses.)

Who Makes Alesse?

Alesse is made by Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Generic versions of the drug are made by various manufacturers (see Generic Alesse for more information).

How Does It Work?

Alesse is a combined oral contraceptive, the most common type of birth control pill. It contains a combination of two different types of hormones: an estrogen (ethinyl estradiol) and a progestin (levonorgestrel). The hormones in Alesse prevent pregnancy primarily by stopping ovulation (the maturation and release of eggs from the ovaries).
Alesse 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. Lastly, Alesse alters the lining of the uterus (the endometrium), making it less receptive to an embryo.
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD
4 Relationship Skills for People With ADHD