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Ethynodiol/ ethinyl estradiol

Generic Name: ethynodiol/ethinyl estradiol (e-thye-noe-DYE-ole/ETH-in-il ess-trah-DYE-ole)
Brand Name: Examples include Demulen and Zovia

Cigarette smoking while taking ethynodiol/ethinyl estradiol increases the risk of serious heart problems. The risk increases with age (older than 35 years) and with heavy smoking (15 or more cigarettes per day). Patients who use ethynodiol/ethinyl estradiol are strongly advised not to smoke.


Ethynodiol/ ethinyl estradiol is used for:

Preventing pregnancy. It may also be used for other conditions as determined by your doctor.

Ethynodiol/ethinyl estradiol is an estrogen/progestin combination. It works by preventing the release of eggs from the ovaries and thereby preventing pregnancy.

Do NOT use ethynodiol/ ethinyl estradiol if:

  • you are allergic to any ingredient in ethynodiol/ethinyl estradiol
  • you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant
  • you have blood clots in the legs, lungs, or eyes; or a history of heart attack, chest pain, or stroke
  • you have known or suspected breast cancer or cancer of the lining of the uterus, cervix, or vagina, or have had vaginal bleeding of unknown causes
  • you have a liver tumor or active liver disease, or a history of yellowing of the eyes or skin during pregnancy or previous birth control use
  • you have headaches with neurological symptoms or will be on bed rest for a long period following surgery

Contact your doctor or health care provider right away if any of these apply to you.

Slideshow: 2014 Update: First Time Brand-to-Generic Switches

Before using ethynodiol/ ethinyl estradiol:

Some medical conditions may interact with ethynodiol/ethinyl estradiol. Tell your health care provider if you have any medical conditions, especially if any of the following apply to you:

  • if you are planning to become pregnant or are breast-feeding
  • if you are taking any prescription or nonprescription medicine, herbal preparation, or dietary supplement
  • if you have allergies to medicines, foods, or other substances
  • if you have high blood pressure; high cholesterol, triglycerides, or calcium levels; have pancreatitis or gallbladder problems; or are obese
  • if you have breast nodules, fibrocystic disease of the breast, an abnormal breast x-ray or mammogram, endometriosis or endometrial carcinomas, uterine fibroids, or irregular or scanty menstrual periods
  • if you have diabetes, headaches, migraine headaches, epilepsy, or a history of mental depression
  • if you are having surgery
  • if you are a heavy smoker (15 or more cigarettes per day), especially if you are older than 35 years of age

Some MEDICINES MAY INTERACT with ethynodiol/ethinyl estradiol. Tell your health care provider if you are taking any other medicines, especially any of the following:

  • Azole antifungals (eg, itraconazole), aprepitant, bosentan, barbiturates (eg, phenobarbital), carbamazepine, felbamate, griseofulvin, HIV protease inhibitors (eg, ritonavir), hydantoins (eg, phenytoin), modafinil, nevirapine, penicillins (eg, amoxicillin), rifampin, St. John's wort, tetracyclines (eg, doxycycline), topiramate, and troglitazone because they may decrease ethynodiol/ethinyl estradiol's effectiveness. Alternative forms of birth control are strongly recommended when taking any of these medicines along with this birth control medicine.
  • Beta-blockers (eg, atenolol), selegiline, theophyllines (eg, aminophylline), and troleandomycin because the risk of their side effects may be increased by ethynodiol/ethinyl estradiol
  • Lamotrigine because its effectiveness may be decreased by ethynodiol/ethinyl estradiol

This may not be a complete list of all interactions that may occur. Ask your health care provider if ethynodiol/ethinyl estradiol may interact with other medicines that you take. Check with your health care provider before you start, stop, or change the dose of any medicine.

How to use ethynodiol/ ethinyl estradiol:

Use ethynodiol/ethinyl estradiol as directed by your doctor. Check the label on the medicine for exact dosing instructions.

  • An extra patient leaflet is available with ethynodiol/ethinyl estradiol. Talk to your pharmacist if you have questions about this information.
  • Take ethynodiol/ethinyl estradiol by mouth with or without food.
  • To achieve maximum effectiveness of ethynodiol/ethinyl estradiol, it must be taken every day (every 24 hours) and at the same time each day.
  • Remember to take all of the pills in the pack. Do not skip any doses.
  • Be sure to have an extra full pack of this medication available at all times.
  • If you miss 1 dose of ethynodiol/ethinyl estradiol, take it as soon as you remember. Take your next dose at the regular time. This means you may take 2 doses on the same day. You do not need to use a backup method of birth control if you only miss 1 pill. If you miss more than 1 active dose of ethynodiol/ethinyl estradiol, read the extra patient leaflet that comes with your medicine or contact your doctor for instructions. You must use a backup method of birth control if you miss more than 1 active dose of ethynodiol/ethinyl estradiol. If you are not sure about how to handle missed doses, use an extra form of birth control (eg, condoms) and talk with your doctor.

Ask your health care provider any questions you may have about how to use ethynodiol/ethinyl estradiol.

Important safety information:

  • Ethynodiol/ethinyl estradiol may cause dizziness or changes in vision. These effects may be worse if you take it with alcohol or certain medicines. Use ethynodiol/ethinyl estradiol with caution. Do not drive or perform other possibly unsafe tasks until you know how you react to it.
  • If you miss your period during the week of inactive pills, call your doctor immediately. A missed period may indicate that you are pregnant.
  • Ethynodiol/ethinyl estradiol may cause dark skin patches on your face. Exposure to the sun may make these patches darker. If patches develop, use a sunscreen or protective clothing when exposed to the sun, sunlamps, or tanning booths.
  • If you wear contact lenses and you develop problems with them or with your vision, contact your doctor as soon as possible.
  • Follow your doctor's instructions for examining your own breasts, and report any lumps immediately.
  • Ethynodiol/ethinyl estradiol may interfere with certain lab tests. Be sure your doctor and lab personnel know you are using ethynodiol/ethinyl estradiol.
  • If you will be having surgery or will be confined to a chair or bed for a long period of time (such as a long plane flight), notify your doctor 3 to 4 weeks beforehand. Special precautions may need to be taken in these circumstances while you are taking ethynodiol/ethinyl estradiol.
  • Bleeding or spotting may occur while taking ethynodiol/ethinyl estradiol. Do not stop taking ethynodiol/ethinyl estradiol if this occurs. If bleeding or spotting continues for more than 7 days or is heavy, contact your doctor.
  • Smoking cigarettes while using ethynodiol/ethinyl estradiol may increase your risk of stroke, heart attack, blood clots, high blood pressure, or other diseases of the heart and blood vessels.
  • Taking certain antibiotics or anticonvulsants while you are using ethynodiol/ethinyl estradiol, or vomiting or diarrhea may decrease the effectiveness of ethynodiol/ethinyl estradiol. To prevent pregnancy, use an additional form of birth control (such as condoms, spermicide, diaphragm) until your next period. If you have any questions, contact your doctor or pharmacist.
  • Use of ethynodiol/ethinyl estradiol will not prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
  • You should usually not start taking ethynodiol/ethinyl estradiol within 4 weeks after giving birth. Discuss any questions or concerns you have with your doctor.
  • Lab tests will be required while you are taking ethynodiol/ethinyl estradiol. You will need to have follow-up exams at least once per year. Be sure to keep all doctor and lab appointments.
  • Ethynodiol/ethinyl estradiol should not be used in CHILDREN; safety and effectiveness in children have not been confirmed.
  • PREGNANCY and BREAST-FEEDING: Do not take ethynodiol/ethinyl estradiol if you are pregnant. If you think you may be pregnant, contact your doctor right away. Ethynodiol/ethinyl estradiol is found in breast milk. Do not breast-feed while taking ethynodiol/ethinyl estradiol.

Possible side effects of ethynodiol/ ethinyl estradiol:

All medicines may cause side effects, but many people have no, or minor, side effects. Check with your doctor if any of these most COMMON side effects persist or become bothersome:

Breast tenderness or enlargement; changes in appetite; changes in weight; dizziness; headache; loss of scalp hair; nausea; nervousness; stomach cramps or bloating; vaginal spotting or breakthrough bleeding; vomiting.

Seek medical attention right away if any of these SEVERE side effects occur:

Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue); bloating; breast lumps; breast tenderness; calf/leg pain or swelling; changes in vision; chest pain or heaviness in the chest; coughing up blood; dark urine or light-colored bowel movements; dizziness or fainting; fever; missed menstrual period; mood/mental changes; numbness of an arm or leg; persistent or recurrent abnormal vaginal bleeding; severe pain or tenderness in the stomach area; shortness of breath; sleeplessness; slurred speech; sudden severe headache (migraine); sudden shortness of breath; swelling of fingers or ankles; unusual vaginal itching, discharge, or odor; vomiting; weakness or fatigue; weakness or numbness in the arm or leg; yellowing of the skin or eyes.

This is not a complete list of all side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, contact your health care provider. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. To report side effects to the appropriate agency, please read the Guide to Reporting Problems to FDA.

If OVERDOSE is suspected:

Contact 1-800-222-1222 (the American Association of Poison Control Centers), your local poison control center, or emergency room immediately. Symptoms may include nausea or vomiting ; vaginal bleeding.

Proper storage of ethynodiol/ethinyl estradiol:

Store ethynodiol/ethinyl estradiol at room temperature, below 86 degrees F (30 degrees C). Store away from heat, moisture, and light. Do not store in the bathroom. Keep ethynodiol/ethinyl estradiol out of the reach of children and away from pets.

General information:

  • If you have any questions about ethynodiol/ethinyl estradiol, please talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
  • Ethynodiol/ethinyl estradiol is to be used only by the patient for whom it is prescribed. Do not share it with other people.
  • If your symptoms do not improve or if they become worse, check with your doctor.
  • Check with your pharmacist about how to dispose of unused medicine.

This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take ethynodiol/ethinyl estradiol or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about ethynodiol/ethinyl estradiol. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to ethynodiol/ethinyl estradiol. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using ethynodiol/ethinyl estradiol.

Issue Date: July 2, 2014
Database Edition 14.3.1.001
Copyright © 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.

Disclaimer: This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this medicine or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this medicine. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this medicine. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this medicine.

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