Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo Pills

  • Generic name: Norgestimate and Ethinyl estradiol
  • Brand names: Ortho Tri-Cyclen, Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo, Tri-Lo-Sprintec, Tri-Sprintec, TriNessa; MonoNessa, Ortho-Cyclen, Sprintec
  • Pregnancy Category: X

Ortho Tri-Cyclen is a birth control pill (oral contraceptive) used to prevent pregnancy. It contains ethinyl estradiol (estrogen) and norgestimate (progestin). The pill is highly effective - 99% chance of not getting pregnant.

Ortho Tri-Cyclen is a triphasic pill, which means that it delivers three different amounts of hormones for 3 weeks and no hormones for 1 week. During each of the first 3 weeks, the level of progesterone hormone increases. This is why it is important to take Ortho Tri-Cyclen pills in the correct order.

Difference between Ortho Tri-Cyclen and Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo

Both Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo and Ortho Tri-Cyclen are triphasic pills and deliver the same amounts of progestin (norgestimate) over the course of the cycle (180 mcg, 215 mcg, and 250 mcg). The only difference is that "Lo" formulation delivers a lower amount of estrogen - 25 mcg compared to 35 mcg.

Difference between Ortho Tri-Cyclen, Tri-Sprintec and TriNessa

Tri-Sprintec, TriNessa, and Orth Tri-Cyclen are the triphasic pills and contain the same hormones (norgestimate 180/215/250 micrograms and ethinylestradiol 35 micrograms), but are made by different manufacturers.

Ortho Tri-Cyclen is manufactured by Janssen Ortho for Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceuticals.
Tri-Sprintec is manufactured by Barr Laboratories.
TriNessa is manufactured by Watson Laboratories.

Note: Ortho Cyclen, Sprintec, and MonoNessa are monophasic pills and have a consistent amount of hormones in each pill.

Ortho Tri-Cyclen and Acne

Ortho Tri-Cyclen is approved for the treatment of acne vulgaris in women 15 years of age or older.

Estrogen-containing pills improve acne in women because they suppress pituitary gonadotropin secretion and, therefore, decrease the production of ovarian androgens. They also increase circulating sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), which binds testosterone, resulting in reduced levels of free testosterone.


Last updated: February, 2015

Good to know


Ortho TriCyclen
  • Two randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies demonstrated that improvement of acne was reported during use of Ortho Tri-Cyclen in more than 80 percent of the studies' participants treated.

Ortho TriCyclen Lo
  • This amount of estrogen was developed to help reduce the occurrence of common side effects, such as breakthrough bleeding and spotting.