Seasonique and LoSeasonique: What You Need to Know

Are the Extended Cycle Birth Control Pills Seasonique and LoSeasonique Safe?

Seasonique and LoSeasonique
Are Seasonique and LoSeasonique (extended birth control pills) safe and effective?. Photo © 2015 Dawn Stacey

If you're considering using the "extended cycle" birth control pills Seasonique or LoSeasonique, what do you need to know? How do these pills work and how effective are they in preventing pregnancy? What are the most common side effects, how safe is it to only have four periods a  year, and what do we know about the safety of these pills relative to other forms of birth control?

What is Seasonique and LoSeasonique?

Both Seasonique and LoSeasonique are FDA-approved continuous cycle or extended cycle birth control pills.

The only difference between Seasonique and LoSeasonique is their hormone dosages. Both of these combination birth control pills are made up of ethinyl estradiol and levonorgestrel. Each pill pack contains 91 pills.

  • Seasonique is made up of 84 pills that contain 30 mcg ethinyl estradiol and 0.15 mg of levonorgestrel. You take one of these pills each day for 84 days. The last pills for the last 7 days of the 3-month pill-pack contain a low-dose of 10 mcg ethinyl estradiol. 
  • LoSeasonique is also made up of 84 pills. These pills contain  20 mcg ethinyl estradiol and 0.1 mg levonorgestrel. The final 7 days of the 3-month cycle contain 10 mcg ethinyl estradiol.

How Do Seasonique and LoSeasonique Work?

Seasonique and LoSeasonique work just like any traditional birth control pill. The biggest difference is that these are extended cycle pills, so each pill packs come with a 3 month supply of pills. You take one pill every day for 3 months.

With traditional birth control pills, you take one pill every day for only 3 weeks. 

With Seasonique and LoSeasonique, You Only Have Four Periods a Year

Because each pack of Seasonique and LoSeasonique lasts for 3 months, you will have fewer periods if you use these pills (around four periods a year).

You should get your period during the last week of the pill pack. Research shows that taking a low-dose estrogen pills for the last 7 days of the pill pack helps to make your period lighter and shorter. During clinical trials, most women reported that their periods only lasted about 3 days.

What About Side Effects of Seasonique and LoSeasonique?

The side effects for these pills are similar to those of other combination pills. But the manufacturers of Seasonique and LoSeasonique do point out that even though you only have four periods a year, you may be more likely to have bleeding or spotting between periods. This bleeding can range from light spotting to a blood flow like your regular period. the good news is that this unscheduled bleeding typically decreases over time.

Keep in mind, however, that while bleeding or spotting is a common side effect with any birth control pill, you are more likely to experience it if you use Seasonique or LoSeasonique.

Are Seasonique and LoSeasonique Effective?

Seasonique and LoSeasonique are just as effective as other brands of combination birth control pills. Seasonique and LoSeasonique are 91 percent effective with typical use and 99.7 percent effective with perfect use.

This means that out of every 100 women who use these birth control pills for one year, less than one will become pregnant (with perfect use) and nine will become pregnant (with typical use). Learn more about the comparative effectiveness of different forms of birth control.

Okay, But Are Seasonique and LoSeasonique Safe?

Some people wonder whether extended cycle pills are safe. There is no medical evidence to show that women need to have a period each month. There are no health problems linked to skipping monthly bleeding. Studies show that that using the pill to stop monthly bleeding or to skip periods is a safe option for preventing pregnancy.

Research also reveals that the using extended cycle pills, like Seasonique or LoSeasonique, is an attractive option for many women.

Who Can Benefit the Most From Extended Cycle Birth Control?

If you suffer from menstrual-related problems (like dysmenorrhea (painful periods,) PMS, menstrual migraines and/or menorrhagia (excess menstrual bleeding,) using extended cycle pills (to prevent a monthly period) may help improve your symptoms and quality of life. Plus, the ability of pills like Seasonique and LoSeasonique to postpone your monthly cycle can be very convenient if you have a busy lifestyle. It also helps the environment (and saves you money) because you are not using as many tampons or pads.

Bottom Line on Seasonique and LoSeasonique for Birth Control

Seasonique and LoSeasonique are forms of extended cycle (continuous) birth control pills. Their effectiveness and safety is similar to other forms of combination birth control pills, and there does not appear to be any risk related to only having four menstrual periods per year.

In fact, continuous birth control may be preferable to traditional birth control pills for people who suffer from problems related to monthly periods ranging from pain, to premenstrual symptoms, to menstrual migraines. For those who have heavy periods, having fewer periods reduces your monthly blood loss and may help reduce your risk of anemia.

Finally, there are non-medical reasons why continuous birth control may be a good option for you, as it is is much more convenient than many other birth control methods available. Extended cycle birth control pills appear to be especially beneficial in how they impact performance and participation among young physically active women in a positive way.

It's important to note, however, that birth control pills do not reduce your risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases, and condoms remain the best option if you could be at risk.

Sources:

Benson, L., and E. Micks. Why Stop Now? Extended and Continuous Regimens of Combined Hormonal Contraceptive Methods. Obstetrics and Gynecology Clinics of North America. 2015. 42(4):669-81.

Burness, C. Extended-Cycle Levonorgestrel/Ethinylestradiol and Low Dose Ethinylestradiol (Seasonique): Review of Its Use as an Oral Contraceptive. Drugs. 2015. 75(9):1019-26.

Schaumberg, M., Emmerton, L., Jenkins, D. et al. Oral Contraceptive Use for Manipulation of Menstruation in Young, Physically-Active Women. International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance. 2017 May 1. (Epub ahead of print).

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