Levonorgestrel is a second-generation progestin with high progestational and andronic effects. The level of progestational effects refers to how successful the progestin is at preventing ovulation and lessening menstrual bleeding – the higher the better. The level of the androgenic effect refers to the chance of unwanted side effects such as acne and hirsutism (female unwanted hair growth); the likelihood of such increases as the androgenic level increases. Levonorgestrel is highly successful at preventing pregnancy, but it will most likely cause more unwanted side effects than other kinds of progestin.
The Food and Drug Administration has approved five extended cycle pill brands that use this progestin – Jolessa, LoSeasonique, Quasense, Seasonale and Seasonique.
- Levonorgestrel is the most widely prescribed contraceptive progestin worldwide. It is highly successful at preventing ovulation and lessening menstrual bleeding.
- All brands containing levonorgestrel have been FDA approved for emergency contraception under the Yuzpe method. The Yuzpe Method indicates that women can take a sufficient dose of estrogen and progestin hormones (such as those contained in combination birth control pills) to prevent pregnancy. Each brand has a different dose. Click on the individual brands below to see more information.
- Levonorgestrel is the only progestin used in extended cycle pills. Extended cycle pills allow women to have only four periods a year. Additionally, each period should only last three days.
- There are several lose-dose estrogen brands available with this progestin.
Levonorgestrel has a higher likelihood of unpleasant side effects such as unwanted hair growth and acne.
Emergency Contraceptives: Plan B, Plan B One Step, Next Choice, ella
Monophasic: Alesse, Aviane, Lessina, Levlen, Levora, Lutera, Lybrel, Nordette, Portia, Sronyx
Multiphasic: Enpresse, Levlite, Tri-Levlen, Triphasil, Trivora
Extended Cycle Pills: Jolessa, LoSeasonique, Quasense, Seasonale, Seasonique
Non-pill Methods: Mirena (IUD)