Birth control pills are normally a series of 28 tiny pills in a case. The first 21 pills contain the active ingredient that prevents ovulation. The other seven are placebo pills, designed with no active ingredient, but included just because experience shows that it's easier for women to take a pill every single day rather than skipping a week and having to remember to restart.
All well and good, a system that has worked for 40 or more years.
The only problem, for a small set of women, was that for some reason, the vast majority of birth control pills made in America contain lactose as an inactive ingredient. Lactose, being non-reactive and slightly sweet, is an extremely common filler for many medications. Most medications have a lactose-free variety. A limited choice, therefore, but still a choice.
That limited choice used to be Demulen. Unfortunately, Demulen went off the market and was replaced by a generic named Zovia. And Zovia contained lactose.
What choices do women have today?
Thanks to the good folks at Wegmans Food and Drugs, my local supermarket chain, and one that has been in the forefront of making lactose information available, I can answer that question. Christopher Woodring, Pharmacist Intern, created a list based on information from Clinical Pharmacology. Many thanks to him for his arduous effort. Thanks also to the Wegmans East Avenue pharmacists, Katie Barbone, Natasha Dedes, and Paul Taranto.
The only pills that appears to have all its pills be completely lactose free are Nordette and Portia. [This is a correction from the original posting. Cryselle does have lactose in the active pills.] You should consult your own doctor and pharmacist to see if either of these pill are right for you.
The Alternatives listed as contractve injections, which obviously do not put lactose into your stomach. They are not pills but I am including them in this listing for your information.
You can find the full list of all contraceptive medications at this page on my site.
Women should remember that the amount of lactose in any one pill is tiny. Unless you are extremely lactose intolerant the amount of lactose in any individual pill should not cause any symptoms. The best pill for you may contain lactose. Still, I understand that many women are seeking to avoid dairy in all forms and all doses. This information should be especially helpful for you.
|Drug Type||Contains Lactose in|
|Drug Name||Manufacturer||Active Ingredients||Inactive Ingredients|
|Low Dose Monophasic|
|Femcon Fe chewable||Warner Chilcott||Yes||NO|
|Portia||Barr||NO||information Not available|
|Loestrin-24 FE||Warner Chilcott||Yes||NO|
|Depo SubQ||NO||not applicable|
|Nuva Ring||NO||not applicable|
|Ortho Evra||NO||not applicable|