What is Lybrel?
Lybrel is a combination birth control pill designed, like Seasonique, to be taken all year round without a placebo or pill-free interval. This means that menstruation is reduced or completely eliminated for females taking the pill. Since Lybrel contains estrogen and progestin hormones, females with a family history of blood clots should not take the pill and should instead look into a non-hormonal or progestin-only form of birth control. Since it does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), Lybrel should be used with a latex or female condom. It is available prescription only through a healthcare provider.
How It Works
Females who take other birth control pills with a placebo phase still experience a monthly period. However, this bleeding is not a result of normal menstruation, during which the body sheds its uterine lining. Instead, the pills work to prevent ovulation from occurring and, as a result, the uterine lining is never formed. Because of this, the monthly bleeding is a result of hormone withdrawal rather than menstruation.
Lybrel has no placebo phase, so it is able to have lower doses of hormones per pill than traditional birth control pills. This keeps the body at more stable hormone levels, allowing the monthly period of bleeding to completely disappear.
How to Use It
Each Lybrel pack comes with 28 pills in the form of tablets. One tablet should be taken by mouth (with or without food) per day at the same time each day. As soon as one pack is finished, you should start a new pack immediately.
If you miss any pills:
- One Missed Pill- Take it as soon as you remember, and take the next pill at its regular time. (2 pills in one day)
- Two Missed Pills- Take the 2 pills as soon as you remember, and then take 2 more the next day. Following that, take 1 pill per day as usual.
- Three+ Missed Pills- Contact your healthcare provider, but meanwhile keep taking 1 pill each day.
For extra protection, use a backup form of birth control (like a condom) for the seven days following a missed pill.
How effective is it?
In clinical studies, Lybrel was shown to have a 2% failure rate. This is an average effectiveness rating for a pill, with the perfect user failure rate being 0.1%, and the typical user failure rate being around 5 percent. To provide even greater protection from pregnancy, a condom can be used in combination with Lybrel.
What side effects should I be aware of?
The most common side effect associated with Lybrel is a significant decrease in menstrual bleeding, and sometimes a complete cessation of menstrual bleeding all together. Amenorrhea (no menstrual periods) was reported in 52.9% of subjects testing Lybrel after 13 weeks, and 79% of females trying Lybrel reported almost no bleeding after thirteen weeks. This pill is designed to prevent periods, so this is expected. In clinical studies, there were fewer mood swings with the females using Lybrel than with those on traditional birth control pills, since their hormone levels remained more balanced throughout the year. Women over 35 who smoke are also discouraged from using hormonal birth control methods due to an increased risk of blood clots and stroke.
EMedTV. 2013. Lybrel. Clinaero, Inc. Accessed on January 21, 2013.
PDR Health. 2011. Lybrel. Everyday Health, Inc. Accessed on January 21, 2013.
TIME. 2013. Top 10 Medical Breakthroughs 2007. Time Inc. Accessed on January 21, 2013.
Last Updated January 29, 2013.