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Definition:

Birth control pills, also called oral contraceptives, are prescription medicines designed to prevent pregnancy. Birth control pill overdose occurs when someone accidentally or intentionally takes more than the normal or recommended amount of this medication.

This is for information only and not for use in the treatment or management of an actual poison exposure. If you have an exposure, you should call your local emergency number (such as 911) or the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.



Poisonous Ingredient:

Most birth control pills contain one of the following combinations of estrogen and progestin hormones:

  • Ethynodiol diacetate and ethinyl estradiol
  • Ethynodiol diacetate and mestranol
  • Levonorgestrel and ethinyl estradiol
  • Norethindrone acetate and ethinyl estradiol
  • Norethindrone and ethinyl estradiol
  • Mestranol and norethindrone
  • Mestranol and norethynodrel
  • Norgestrel and ethinyl estradiol

The following birth control pills contain progestin only:

  • Norethindrone
  • Norgestrel

Note: This list may not be all-inclusive.



Where Found:
  • Ethinyl estradiol and ethynodiol diacetate (Demulen)
  • Mestranol and ethynodiol diacetate (Ovulen)
  • Levonorgestrel and ethinyl estradiol (Nordette, Tri-Levlen, Triphasil)
  • Norethindrone (Micronor, Nor-Q.D.)
  • Norethindrone acetate and ethinyl estradiol (Loestrin, Norlestrin)
  • Norethindrone and ethinyl estradiol (Brevicon, Ortho-Novum 1/35, Modicon, Ortho-Novum 7/7/7, Ovcon)
  • Mestranol and norethindrone (Ortho-Novum 1/50)
  • Mestranol and norethynodrel (Enovid)
  • Norgestrel (Ovrette)
  • Norgestrel and ethinyl estradiol (Lo Ovral, Ovral)
Note: This list may not be all-inclusive.

Symptoms:
  • Breast tenderness
  • Discoloration of urine
  • Drowsiness
  • Excessive vaginal bleeding (2 - 7 days following the overdose)
  • Headache
  • Mental changes
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rash


Home Treatment:

Stop using the birth control pills and use alternative methods, if desired, to prevent pregnancy. The overdose is unlikely to be life threatening, but call poison control for further instructions.



Before Calling Emergency:

Determine the following information:

  • Patient's age, weight, and condition
  • The name of the product (ingredients and strengths, if known)
  • When it was swallowed
  • The amount swallowed
  • If the medication was prescribed for the patient


Poison Control, or a local emergency number:

The National Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) can be called from anywhere in the United States. This national hotline number will let you talk to experts in poisoning. They will give you further instructions.

This is a free and confidential service. All local poison control centers in the United States use this national number. You should call if you have any questions about poisoning or poison prevention. It does NOT need to be an emergency. You can call for any reason, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Take the container with you to the hospital, if possible.

See: National Poison Control Center



What to expect at the emergency room:

A trip to the emergency room will probably not be necessary.

If an ER visit is needed, the health care provider will measure and monitor the patient's vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure. The patient may receive:

  • Activated charcoal
  • Blood tests
  • EKG (electrocardiogram)
  • Medicines to treat symptoms
  • Methods to make the person throw up
  • Tube through the mouth into the stomach to wash out the stomach (gastric lavage )


Expectations (prognosis):

Serious symptoms are very unlikely.




Review Date: 2/3/2009
Reviewed By: A.D.A.M. Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Greg Juhn, MTPW, David R. Eltz. Previously reviewed by Eric Perez, MD, Department of Emergency Medicine, St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network (10/29/2007).

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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