Ask a friend what birth control pill they take, and chances are pretty high it's a brand called Sprintec™. Sprintec is super popular and for good reason. Kudos to you for looking into it! Below, find our medically-approved Sprintec birth control review, or jump straight to the section most relevant to you:
What is Sprintec?
Sprintec is the generic version of the popular oral contraceptive pill called Ortho-Cyclen*. When the makers of Ortho-Cyclen presented it to the FDA for approval, they confirmed it had less than a 3% failure rate with typical use, and less than 1% failure rate when taken perfectly, without missing any pills.
*Editor's Note: Ortho-Cyclen has been discontinued by the manufacturer, but there are equivalent brands like Sprintec.
Is Sprintec a good birth control method?
Yes. Sprintec is a well-known and well-studied birth control pill, and could easily be the most-used brand of oral contraceptive; in this analysis of the top brands that women use, Sprintec came out as the second most-used brand in the study, barely eclipsed by the much more expensive Lo Loestrin Fe™.
How effective is Sprintec?
Similar to other combination birth control pills, Sprintec is 99% effective at preventing pregnancy when used correctly and consistently
Sprintec has a proven track record as a safe and effective oral birth control pill, listing the same potential side effects as other birth control pills. It might have additional benefits as a way to reduce hormonal acne problems, too. We'll talk more about that in a minute.
What type of birth control is Sprintec?
Sprintec is a combination birth control pill, meaning it contains two different hormones, estrogen and progestin (the other kind of pill is the mini-pill, which only contains progestin). Specifically, Sprintec contains the hormones norgestimate and ethinyl estradiol.
Sprintec is a monophasic pill, which just means that every active pill has the same level or amount of hormones in it (you can think of it as having 1 "phase" of hormones). Tri-Sprintec (like Ortho Tri-Cyclen*) uses the exact same hormones as Sprintec, but it's a triphasic pill, meaning there are three different dose levels in the active pills. You can think of Tri-Sprintec as having 3 "phases" of hormones throughout the month.
*Editor's Note: Ortho Tri-Cyclen has been discontinued, though there are other brands like Tri-Sprintec that can be used in its place.
Sprintec vs. Tri-Sprintec
Why would you choose one over the other (Sprintec vs. Tri-Sprintec)? Both types of hormonal birth control pills are equally good at preventing pregnancy. Your best bet is to consult your doctor on this one. The multiphasic versions were originally developed to reduce the total dosage of progestin your body would get during one cycle, but without an increase in breakthrough bleeding.
A review of the research by the reputable Cochrane Library, however, concluded that there just wasn't enough evidence to say that multiphasic was any better than monophasic for bleeding patterns.
There is some evidence that triphasic pills are better at treating acne, which we'll discuss below.
There is also a version called Tri-Lo-Sprintec, which contains lower doses of hormones.
What are the benefits of Sprintec?
In addition to helping prevent pregnancy, Sprintec (and Tri-Sprintec) have many benefits that are unique to its formulation, and some that are shared with most other combination birth control pills.
It helps with acne
The biggest benefit that makes Sprintec stand out from other combination birth control pills is that Tri-Sprintec is FDA approved for use specifically against acne.
Ortho Tri-Cyclen (nowadays you'd get Tri-Sprintec) is one of just four birth control pills approved by the FDA for use to reduce acne. Researchers published results in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology that found that triphasic pills, with the three "phases" of progestin across the cycle, had a positive effect on acne.
According to the CDC, combined birth control pills have a failure rate of 7% with typical use (meaning when people missed pills sometimes). Though the failure rate is only 1% if you take it perfectly, without missing any pills.
Its effects are fully reversible
If you decide you want to become pregnant, you can easily stop taking Sprintec. Its effects are fully reversible, and you can become pregnant again shortly after you stop taking it.
Because it's so easy to start and stop taking Sprintec, you can try it out if you're trying to find a birth control pill that causes the fewest side effects for you. Remember, it can take up to three months for your body to adjust to a change in hormone levels - don’t give up too soon when trying it out! Your healthcare provider can work with you to ensure you find a pill that works best for you.
It can help you skip your period
It's possible to skip your period when taking Sprintec; you can talk to your doctor about that.
Sprintec or Tri-Sprintec™ could be the low-cost option you're looking for. Because Sprintec is a generic drug, it can cost as low as $0 with insurance. Even if you don't have insurance, it won't cost a ton compared to some other birth control pills. A year's supply of Sprintec could cost less than $100 out of pocket.
What are the side effects of Sprintec?
Much like its benefits, Sprintec shares the same potential side effects as other combination birth control pills. Because your body will react to hormones in a way that's unique to you, you might experience none of these side effects, some minor side effects, or side effects that you find so unpleasant you may want to try a different pill, one that uses different synthetic hormones.
The chance of serious side effects from taking birth control is very small in healthy women and people who menstruate. In fact, the risks are smaller than the health risks associated with getting pregnant. However, you'll always want to talk to your health care provider before taking birth control pills.
Serious side effects include:
But if you are obese, smoke, have diabetes, or high blood pressure, these factors drastically increase your risk of encountering cardiovascular side effects with birth control pills. It's important to talk to your health care provider about your personal risk factors before making a decision on which birth control pill to use.
Common side effects might include:
Changes in hormone levels affect people in different ways, so it's impossible to know which side effects will be a problem for you or how bad they'll be. Some experience spotting while on Sprintec, while others report lighter, less painful periods. It's good to know that there are some fixes to the side effects, like taking the pill before you go to bed to help prevent nausea. Also, these side effects may subside with time. Your natural hormone levels change over time as well, so the perfect pill for you now might not be the perfect pill for you in five years - don’t suffer in silence with any side effects, let your health care provider know!
Research has found that birth control pills could make your breasts larger, although the reasons are poorly understood. Nevertheless, that feeling of being bloated and fat stinks, and it is one possible side effect to consider.
How does Sprintec compare to other birth control brands?
When you started searching for a new birth control pill, you probably found a list of tongue-twisting brand names and even harder to pronounce active ingredients.
What's the difference between Sprintec and Trinessa, Mononessa, Estarylla, or others? Luckily, you don't need a medical degree to understand the differences, because the important thing to know is that every brand name and generic combination birth control pill is highly effective at preventing pregnancy.
So is there a difference? Each pill uses different combinations of synthetic hormones, and different doses and dosing patterns. There are low dose pills, monophasic, biphasic, and triphasic. And they all work great at preventing pregnancy! But they all interact with your body in different ways, so some of them tend to cause certain side effects more than others, and some will cause different side effects for you than they do for other others.
By the way, Mononessa, Estarylla, and Trinessa are also generic versions of Ortho-Cyclen and Ortho Tri-Cyclen. They have the same active ingredients as Sprintec, and are just as effective as Sprintec, although the pills may look slightly different and there might be differences in cost. But other than that, same stuff.
Recap: Is Sprintec or Tri-Sprintec right for you?
Sprintec is a safe and effective combination birth control method, and since it's a generic oral contraceptive pill, it's pretty inexpensive, too. Tri-Sprintec is one of the few birth control pills to have official FDA approval for use specifically to treat problem acne. All that upside could make it the best choice when you're choosing your birth control pill. If you're on the fence, sign up with Favor to chat with our medical team, get birth control online, and delivered to your door on time, every time.
With writing contribution from Ed Grabianowski
At Favor, our goal is to provide the most up-to-date, objective, and research-based information to help readers make informed decisions. Articles are written by experienced contributors; they are grounded in research and evidence-based practices. All information has been fact-checked and extensively reviewed by our team of experts to ensure content is accurate and on par with current industry standards. Articles contain trusted third-party sources that are either directly linked to in the text or listed at the bottom to take readers directly to the source.