Loestrin vs Loestrin Fe: Difference and Comparison

With the increasing population, contraceptives and birth control pills are a boon. There are numerous ways to avoid unplanned pregnancies, but the birth control pill is the most prominent.

But as umpteen pills are available in the market, it may perplex the common man. One such example is Loestrin and Loestrin Fe, both perform the same function of controlling unwanted pregnancies but carry some subtle differences. Knowing their differences and side effects may assist in choosing them.  

Key Takeaways

  1. Both Loestrin and Loestrin Fe are combination birth control pills containing the hormones estrogen and progestin.
  2. Loestrin Fe includes iron supplementation in the form of ferrous fumarate, while Loestrin does not.
  3. Women taking Loestrin Fe may experience less severe menstrual bleeding due to the added iron supplementation.

Loestrin vs. Loestrin Fe  

Loestrin is a low-dose pill used to prevent pregnancy, regulate menstrual cycles, reduce menstrual cramps, and decrease the risk of ovarian cysts. Loestrin FE contains 20 micrograms of ethinyl estradiol and norethindrone as progestin hormones, but also contains ferrous fumarate, which is an iron supplement.

Loestrin vs Loestrin Fe

Loestrin is a type of contraceptive pill consisting of 21 pills plus 7 pills without hormones. It is a perfect combination of the hormones- Norethindrone and Ethinyl Estradiol.

Loestrin belongs to the class of drugs called Hormonal Contraceptives. It is primarily manufactured by Duramed Pharmaceuticals.   

On the other hand, Loestrin Fe is a birth control pill that contains 21 pills plus 7 pills with iron. Typically, Loestrin Fe is the brand name of a drug that contains many other sub-categories in the form of other drugs.

It falls under the category/ class of Combination Progesterone and Estrogen Contraceptives.   

Comparison Table

Parameters of Comparison   Loestrin    Loestrin Fe  
Type    Generic Drug    Brand Name with Sub-Types
Norethindrone and Ethinyl Estradiol content Usually, 1/20   Varies- 1/20 or 1.5/30
Course/ Dosage 21 pills + 7 pills  Varies- 21 pills + 7 pills  or 24 pills + 4 pills
Additional Ingredients in Placebo PillsAbsent    Present- Fe- Iron  
Side Effects  Acne, Headache, Weight Gain, etc.    Headache, Darker Stools, etc.  

What is Loestrin?  

As mentioned, Loestrin is a generic birth control pill that falls under hormonal contraceptives primarily used to control unplanned pregnancies. Although it has minor side effects, it remains one of the most widely used pills.   

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Loestrin is a combination of natural hormones like progesterone and estrogen that primarily works to stop the ovulation of the eggs. This halt in ovulation helps to stop the eggs from maturing and thus eventually stopping pregnancy.   

This progesterone and estrogen combination, scientifically known as Norethindrone (Progesterone) and Ethinyl Estradiol (Estrogen), primarily alters the endometrial lining of the uterus and the cervical mucus making the uterus unsuitable for implantation and pregnancy.   

Loestrin contains 21 pills with active hormonal ingredients and 7 with no active hormonal ingredients. Doctors and Practitioners advise continuously taking one pill daily, with or without food.

The doses remain the same for all age groups of women irrespective of their age, weight, etc.   

A continuous dosage of Loestrin can cause minor side effects like headache, acne, weight gain, breast tenderness, nausea, and bleeding between menstrual cycles.

Women with smoking habits and hypertension are strictly prohibited from taking this medicine as it can lead to clots, strokes, heart attacks, etc.

Women under medication, supplements, or any treatment are advised not to take this medicine as it may not work under their influence. Although Loestrin has certain conditions and side effects, it is one of the most prescribed drugs in the United States. 

What is Loestrin Fe?   

As mentioned above, Loestrin Fe is a type of contraceptive pill that falls under a Combination of Progesterone and Estrogen Contraceptives that primarily work to stop ovulation, thus avoiding unplanned pregnancies.

Loestrin Fe has many subcategories or types popularly known as forms of Loestrin Fe.   

Loestrin Fe contains 21 pills with active hormonal ingredients, and the additional 7 pills (called placebo pills) contain iron. The Fe in Loestrin Fe is derived from Iron/ Ferrous Fumarate.

There is a single exception of Loestrin Fe, which is Loestrin 24 Fe which contains 24 active pills.   

Loestrin Fe also contains the same Norethindrone (Progesterone) and Ethinyl Estradiol (Estrogen) but in different quantities than the rest of the pills.

For instance, a single pill of Loestrin Fe consists of approximately 20- 30 micrograms of Ethinyl Estradiol and 1 milligram, although it can vary with different brands.  

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Loestrin Fe comes in three forms: Loestrin Fe 1/20, Loestrin Fe 1.5/30, and Loestrin 24 Fe. These numbers signify the amount of Norethindrone and Ethinyl Estradiol in a single pill.

Loestrin 24 Fe contains 24 active pills with additional 4 pills (placebo pills) containing iron.   

Just like any other birth control pill, Loestrin Fe also carries the same side effects like headache, weight gain, etc. Also, women suffering from hypertension and medications and alcohol/ smoking habits should avoid this pill.

One minor side effect of Loestrin Fe is the dark stools due to the presence of Iron as an additional ingredient. Thus, it is advised to take Loestrin Fe with an additional Vitamin C supplement for better absorption of Fe (Iron).  

Main Differences Between Loestrin and Loestrin Fe  

  1. Loestrin is a generic contraceptive pill/ drug. On the other hand, Loestrin Fe is a brand name with certain sub-types/ forms.   
  2. The course of Loestrin is 21 pills plus 7 pills with no additional ingredients. In contrast, the course of Loestrin Fe is 21 pills plus 7 pills with iron. Peculiarly, Loestrin 24 Fe contains 24 pills plus 4 placebo pills.    
  3. Loestrin comes in 1/20, signifying the amount of Norethindrone and Ethinyl Estradiol. On the other hand, Loestrin Fe comes in 3 forms- Loestrin Fe 1/20, Loestrin 1.5/30, and Loestrin 24 Fe.   
  4. Loestrin has side effects like acne, headache, etc. In contrast, Loestrin Fe carries a side effect of dark stools due to the presence of iron.  
  5. Loestrin does not require any additional supplement, whereas it is advised to take Vitamin C supplement with Loestrin Fe.  


  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0010782406003179 
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0010782401002141 


Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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13 thoughts on “Loestrin vs Loestrin Fe: Difference and Comparison”

  1. While the article is educational, I would have appreciated a more nuanced discussion on the potential long-term effects of these birth control pills. It’s important to consider not only the immediate side effects but also the overall impact on women’s health.

    • It’s true, long-term effects are a major concern for any medication. This calls for further research and discussion to provide a comprehensive understanding.

    • I agree, the long-term implications are vital and should not be overlooked. The article could have delved deeper into this aspect.

  2. The detailed comparison table provides a clear understanding of the differences between Loestrin and Loestrin Fe. This information can aid women in discussing their contraceptive options with healthcare providers effectively.

    • Absolutely, having comprehensive knowledge about these birth control pills is empowering for women. It enables them to have informed conversations with medical professionals to make the right choices for their health.

  3. Very informative article explaining the difference between Loestrin and Loestrin Fe. It is crucial for women to understand the variations and possible side effects to make an informed decision about which birth control pill is suitable for them.

    • Absolutely, education on this topic is essential. Making an informed decision about reproductive health is incredibly important.

  4. The article presents a thorough comparison between Loestrin and Loestrin Fe. Knowing the additional ingredient in Loestrin Fe and its impact on menstrual bleeding is highly beneficial for women considering these options for birth control.

    • Absolutely, the detailed analysis of these contraceptive pills is enlightening. Women should be aware of all the factors before choosing a specific birth control method.

  5. It’s intriguing to learn about the chemical mechanisms of these birth control pills. The detailed explanation of how the hormonal combination works is quite fascinating, shedding light on the scientific aspects of these medications.

    • Indeed, the scientific insights offered in the article are engaging. Understanding the pharmacological actions of these contraceptive pills adds depth to the discussion on reproductive health.

  6. It is concerning to see that both Loestrin and Loestrin Fe have side effects such as headaches and others. While birth control pills are essential, it’s crucial to address these potential drawbacks and consider alternative options.

    • Indeed, the side effects pose a significant concern. Exploring alternative birth control methods with fewer adverse effects might be beneficial for women’s health.


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