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contraceptive pills

The Birth Control Series Part III: Which Birth Control Pills are Which?

Today we continue with our series on birth control by identifying and classifying the variety of pills available to women.

There are nearly 60 varieties of birth control pills.  They are, as I mentioned in the first post of the series, grouped by whether they are progesterone-only or progesterone-estrogen combination pills, by which kinds and amounts of progesterone and estrogen they use, by being mono, di, tri, or quadri phasic, by lasting one month before a withdrawal bleed, or by lasting three months before a withdrawal bleed. Below is a table I use for reference that details the phase and drug type of each type of birth control.

Alesse-28 ethinyl estradiol levonorgestrel
Apri ethinyl estradiol desogestrel
Aviane ethinyl estradiol levonorgestrel
Brevicon ethinyl estradiol norethindrone
Demulen 1/35-21 Demulen 1/35-28 Demulen 1/50-21 Demulen 1/50-28 ethinyl estradiol ethynodiol diacetate
Desogen ethinyl estradiol desogestrel
Genora 1/35 ethinyl estradiol norethindrone
Genora 1/50 mestranol norethindrone
Levlite 28 ethinyl estradiol levonorgestrel
Levlen 21 Levlen 28 ethinyl estradiol levonorgestrel
Levora 0.15/30-21 Levora 0.15/30-28 ethinyl estradiol levonorgestrel
Loestrin 21 1/20 Loestrin 21 1.5/30 Loestrin FE 1/20 Loestrin FE 1.5/30 ethinyl estradiol norethindrone acetate
Lo-Ovral 28 Ovral 28 ethinyl estradiol norgestrel
Low-Ogestrel 28 Ogestrel 0.5/50-28 ethinyl estradiol norgestrel
Microgestin 1/20 Microgestin 1.5/30 Microgestin FE 1/20 Microgestin FE 1/5/30 ethinyl estradiol norethindrone acetate
Modicon ethinyl estradiol norethindrone
Necon 0.5/35-21 Necon 0.5/35-28 Necon 1/50-21 Necon 1/50-28 Necon 1/35-21 Necon 1/35-28 ethinyl estradiol norethindrone
Nordette 28 ethinyl estradiol levonorgestrel
Norinyl 1/50 mestranol norethindrone
Norinyl 1/35 ethinyl estradiol norethindrone
Nortrel 0.5/35 Nortrel 1/35 ethinyl estradiol norethindrone
Ortho-Cept ethinyl estradiol desogestrel
Ortho-Novum 1/35 ethinyl estradiol norethindrone
Ortho-Novum 1/50 mestranol norethindrone
Ortho-Cyclen ethinyl estradiol norgestimate
Ovcon 50 Ovcon 35 ethinyl estradiol norethindrone
Tri-Norinyl 28 ethinyl estradiol norethindrone
Yasmin 28 ethinyl estradiol drospirenone
Zovia 1/50E Zovia 1/35E ethinyl estradiol ethynodiol diacetate
Jenest 28 ethinyl estradiol norethindrone
Mircette ethinyl estradiol desogestrel
Necon 10/11-21 Necon 10/11-28 ethinyl estradiol norethindrone
Ortho-Novum 10/11 ethinyl estradiol norethindrone
Estrostep 21 Estrostep FE ethinyl estradiol norethindrone
Ortho-Novum 7/7/7 ethinyl estradiol norethindrone
Ortho Tri-Cyclen Ortho Tri-Cyclen LO ethinyl estradiol norgestimate
Tri-Levlen 21 Tri-Levlen 28 ethinyl estradiol levonorgestrel
Tri-Norinyl 28 ethinyl estradiol norethindrone
Triphasil 28 ethinyl estradiol levonorgestrel
Trivora 28 ethinyl estradiol levonorgestrel
24-4 PREPARATIONS (24 days of hormone pills and 4 days of placebo pills)
Yaz ethinyl estradiol drospirenone
Lo Estrin 24-4 ethinyl estradiol norethindrone acetate
Seasonale ethinyl estradiol levonorgestrel
Seasonique ethinyl estradiol levonorgestrel
Micronor norethindrone
Nor-QD norethindrone
Ovrette norgestrel

Table from Medicine Net.

For more on the birth control series, see:

Part I: Birth control pills: How they work, benefits, and risks

Part II: The Drosiprenone Pill Warning

You can also learn more in my book, Birth Control Unlocked: Your Body, Your Options, Your Guide.

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Managing director of Paleo for Women and author of Sexy by Nature.


  1. Will you be going into the injectables?
    I’m curious about the differences between having a constant dose and a periodic dose.

  2. Curently I am using Nuva ring, will you discuss that? and then we are thinking of go to Implanon, something that sits in my arm for 3 years.

    i have loved the research you have done so far. It’s organized so well and easy to follow 🙂

    thanks for your hard work.

  3. Are you going to address some of the negative long-term effects of being on bcp? I went on them when I was 19 and got hypothalamic amenorrhea. But I really think they made my hormones even more out-of-whack and messed with my gut health. It’s important for women to know the downsides of the pill besides the immediate side effects they might notice.

  4. how about the patch and the ring? (ortho evra and nuvaring)

  5. An important, often overlooked point:

    Natural progesterone and synthetic progesterone are NOT the same thing, even though the names are often interchanged by laymen and MDs alike.

    Natural progesterone is not patentable. The “progesterone” in contraceptives and HRT is synthetic, and is properly named a “progestin”. Progestins are not biochemically identical to the body’s progesterone, and therefore cannot function identically to progesterone.

    Progestins are not natural, and they disrupt fundamental processes in the body (“side effects”).

  6. Pingback: Paleo For Women | The Birth Control Series IV: The Implant, The Patch, and The NuvaRing

  7. Pingback: Paleo for Women | The Birth Control Series V: The IUD

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