Lybrel Birth Control Pill

Name Brand Discontinued When Generic Became Available

Birth control pills would be hard to access for over half a million women and girls if Planned Parenthood is defunded.
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Lybrel (levonorgestrel/ethinyl estradiol) was a combination birth control pill. It was the first extended-cycle birth control pill designed to supply an active dose of hormones every day to completely stop your period for a full year.

Lybrel was discontinued when generic versions became available. You can find generic levonorgestrel/ethinyl estradiol and also find it under the name of Amethyst.

Each pack of Lybrel contained 365 pills that were made up of 90 micrograms of levonorgestrel and 20 micrograms of ethinyl estradiol.

Lybrel was approved for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on May 22, 2007.

Lybrel Discontinued as Generic Versions Are Available

Lybrel is no longer available as a name brand medication. The manufacturer of Lybrel decided to stop making it. It is common for a brand-name drug to be discontinued once generic versions are allowed to enter the market. It was not taken off the market for safety reasons, nor was it recalled by the FDA.

How Lybrel Worked

Lybrel worked just like other combination birth control pills. The difference is that it was taken 365 days of the year and did not have a pill-free interval or placebo period. As long as you took your Lybrel pill every day, you would not have your period. Lybrel did not permanently affect fertility (your ability to get pregnant) once you stopped taking it. Research showed that 99 percent of women who used Lybrel would have their period return within 90 days (three months) after they stopped taking Lybrel.

The Safety of Lybrel

Some women questioned if not having a monthly period is safe. What you need to realize is that the monthly period you have when using birth control pills is not a real period—it’s actually called withdrawal bleeding. It is not necessary to have a withdrawal bleed each month. The withdrawal period that you have when taking birth control pills has no medical purpose other than to reassure you that you are not pregnant.

Medical professionals and data showed that in other regards, Lybrel was just as safe as other combination birth control pills. 

Advantages and Benefits of Lybrel

These were points that women liked about Lybrel:

  • Fifty-nine percent of women taking Lybrel stopped bleeding after six months of use.
  • One study reported that after seven to 13 pill packs, women on Lybrel reported less nausea and breast pain than those on a 21-day birth control pill.
  • Other research showed that 114 women who used Lybrel for three months reported less PMS and period-related pain.

Potential Lybrel Risks and Disadvantages

These were side effects or cons of Lybrel:

  • Some women welcome their periods as a sign they are not pregnant, and many see their periods as a natural part of being a woman.
  • The low doses of hormones used in Lybrel may cause spotting.
  • Lybrel had the same side effects as other hormonal methods.
  • As with all oral contraceptives, Lybrel did not offer any protection against sexually transmitted infections.

Effectiveness of Lybrel and Similar Oral Contraceptives

Lybrel was also just as effective as other birth control pill brands. Most studies showed that Lybrel (just like any combination birth control pill) is 91 percent to 99.7 percent effective.

This means that with typical use, only nine out of every 100 women will become pregnant during the first year of using Lybrel. With perfect use, less than one will become pregnant during the first year of using Lybrel.

Keep these facts in mind if you are interested in similar levonorgestrel/ethinyl estradiol contraceptives.

Sources:

Bonnema RA, Spencer AL. The New Extended-Cycle Levonorgestrel-Ethinyl Estradiol Oral Contraceptives. Clinical Medicine Insights: Reproductive Health. 2011:49. doi:10.4137/cmrh.s5030.

Jacobson JC, Likis FE, Murphy PA. Extended and Continuous Combined Contraceptive Regimens for Menstrual Suppression. Journal of Midwifery & Womens Health. 2012;57(6):585-592. doi:10.1111/j.1542-2011.2012.00250.x.

McCarthy LI, Brar H. Levonorgestrel/Ethinyl Estradiol (Lybrel) for Continuous Contraception. American Academy of Family Physicians; 2008:222.

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