Difference Between Loestrin and Loestrin Fe

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


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But as there are umpteen pills available in the market it may perplex a common man. One such example is the 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.  

Loestrin vs Loestrin Fe  

The difference between Loestrin and Loestrin Fe is that Loestrin is a typical generic drug, on the other hand, Loestrin Fe is the brand name of a drug. Both are contraceptive pills that perform the same function but Loestrin contains pills without hormones while Loestrin Fe contains pills with iron.   

Loestrin vs Loestrin Fe

Loestrin is a type of contraceptive pill that consists of a dose 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 stands for 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?  

Aforementioned, Loestrin is a type of generic birth control pill that falls under the category of Hormonal Contraceptives that is primarily used to control unplanned pregnancies. Although it carries certain minor side effects it remains one of the most widely used pills.   

Loestrin is a combination of natural hormones like progesterone and estrogen that primarily works to stop 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 is scientifically known as Norethindrone (Progesterone) and Ethinyl Estradiol (Estrogen) that 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 pills with no active hormonal ingredients. Doctors and Practitioners advise taking one pill a day continuously with or without food.

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

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

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

Women under medication and 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 the category of Combination 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 (also called placebo pills) contain iron. The Fe in Loestrin Fe is derived from Iron/ Ferrous Fumarate.

There is a single exception of Loestrin Fe that is Loestrin 24 Fe that 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.  

Loestrin Fe comes in about three different forms- Loestrin Fe 1/20, Loestrin Fe 1.5/30, and Loestrin 24 Fe. These numbers signify the amount of Norethindrone and Ethinyl Estradiol respectively 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, alcohol/ smoking habits should avoid this pill.

One additional minor side effect of Loestrin Fe is the dark stools due to the presence of Iron as an additional ingredient. Thus, it is usually 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 the form of Loestrin 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 to be taken, 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 


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