Womens Health

How do the doses of pill components vary by brand of pill?

Birth control pills now have only one (synthetic) estrogen type, ethinyl estradiol. Therefore the estrogen potency of a given pill is directly related to the number of micrograms of ethinyl estradiol with one exception.

Sometimes the specific progestin also has some estrogen activity. For the most part, the estrogen potency of the progestins is small in comparison with ethinyl estradiol so it is not added in to potency tables.


Estrogen and Progestin Hormone Doses in Combined Birth Control Pills

Estrogen level
ethinyl estradiol
Pill Brand Name Progestin Dose (mg)
20 mcgm Alesse® levonorgestrel 0.10
Levlite® levonorgestrel 0.10
Loestrin 1/20® Fe norethindrone acetate 1.00
Mircette® desogestrel 0.15
Ortho Evra®
(norgestimate metabolite)
20/30/35 mcgm
Estrostep® Fe norethindrone acetate 1.0/1.0/1.0
30 mcgm Levlen® levonorgestrel 0.15
Levora® levonorgestrel 0.15
Nordette® levonorgestrel 0.15
Lo/Ovral® norgestrel 0.30
Desogen® desogestrel 0.15
Ortho-Cept® desogestrel 0.15
Loestrin® 1.5/30 norethindrone acetate 1.50
Yasmin® drospirenone 3.0
30/40/30 mcgm
Triphasil® levonorgestrel 0.05/0.075/0.125
Tri-Levlen® levonorgestrel 0.05/0.075/0.125
Trivora® levonorgestrel 0.05/0.075/0.125
35 mcgm Ortho-Cyclen® norgestimate 0.25
Ovcon-35® norethindrone 0.40
Brevicon® norethindrone 0.50
Modicon® norethindrone 0.50
Necon® norethindrone 1.00
Norethin® norethindrone 1.00
Norinyl® 1/35 norethindrone 1.00
Ortho-Novum® 1/35 norethindrone 1.00
Demulen® 1/35 ethynodiol diacetate 1.00
Zovia® 1/35E ethynodiol diacetate 1.00
35/35 mcgm
Ortho-Novum® 10/11 norethindrone 0.50/1.00
Jenest® norethindrone 0.50/1.00
35/35/35 mcgm
Ortho-Tri-Cyclen® norgestimate 0.15/0.215/0.25
Ortho-Novum® 7/7/7 norethindrone 0.50/0.75/1.00
Tri-Norinyl® norethindrone 0.50/1.00/0.50
50 mcgm Necon® 1/50 norethindrone 1.00
Norinyl® 1/50 norethindrone 1.00
Ortho-Novum® 1/50 norethindrone 1.00
Ovcon-50® norethindrone 1.00
Ovral® norgestrel 0.50
Demulen® 1/50 ethynodiol diacetate 1.00
Zovia® 1/50E ethynodiol diacetate 1.00



Which pills have higher progestin side effects or cause more acne and hair growth?


Each progestin has a different potency, milligram per milligram, in terms of progesterone effect to stop menstrual bleeding or androgen effect to stimulate acne and hair growth.

However you must remember that a higher potency progestin may be used in a much smaller milligram dose and thus be equivalent to a larger milligram dose of a less potent progestin.

For example, desogestrel is a very potent and androgenic progestin but its usual oral contraceptive dose is 0.15 mg instead of 1.00 mg for norethindrone. Its progestin potency compared to norethindrone would be 0.15 X 9.0 = 1.35 times. For androgenicity, it would be 0.15 X 3.4 = .51 or half as androgenic as a pill containing 1 mg of norethindrone.

Progestin Potency of Different Oral Contraceptive Progestins*

Table of Contents
1. Which Pill is Best?
2. Pill side effects
3. Pill suggestions
4. Can't afford the Pill?
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Hi, This article is really useful! Thank you very much to who wrote it :) Any chance you can give me a little help? I've been on Microgynon (UK equivalent of Levlen/Levora) for 6 months and my libido was surprisingly really high but I after a few months I started to get some acne so I switched to Yasmin, which I've been taking for another 6 months. Yasmin made my skin much better with time but my libido completely disappeared. I really want my libido back! I went to a Sexual Health clinic and they gave me Marvelon (equivalent to Desogen). You think that would be good for me? I think probably the change of libido is due to the fact that Yasmin has 0 androgenic activity while Microgynon/Levora has 1.25. I calculated that Marvelon/Desogen has 0.51 but has more progestin. What do you think? Thank you very much!
9 years ago