Drugs Home > Ortho-Cept

Ortho-Cept is an oral contraceptive that is available by prescription. It works to prevent pregnancy by stopping ovulation, changing the cervical mucus, and altering the lining of the uterus. Ortho-Cept is a combination drug that contains both estrogen and progestin. Common side effects reported with these birth control pills include nausea, vomiting, breast tenderness, and headaches.

What Is Ortho-Cept?

Ortho-Cept® (desogestrel/ethinyl estradiol) is a prescription oral contraceptive (commonly known as a birth control pill). Ortho-Cept is equivalent to Desogen®, another brand-name birth control pill. For more information about Ortho-Cept, refer to any of the Desogen links in this article, since all Desogen information also applies to Ortho-Cept.
(Click Desogen for more information on what Ortho-Cept is used for, including possible off-label uses.)

Who Makes Ortho-Cept?

Ortho-Cept is made by Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceutical, Inc. Generic versions of the drug are made by various manufacturers (see Generic Desogen).

How Does Ortho-Cept Work?

Ortho-Cept is a combined oral contraceptive, which means that it is a birth control pill that contains two different types of hormones. It contains both an estrogen (ethinyl estradiol) and a progestin (desogestrel). The hormones in Ortho-Cept prevent pregnancy primarily by stopping ovulation (the maturation and release of eggs from the ovaries). However, it also works to prevent pregnancy in two other, less important ways. Ortho-Cept changes the cervical mucus (the fluid of the cervix, which is the lower, narrow part of the uterus that is connected to the vagina), making it more difficult for sperm to enter the uterus. Lastly, Ortho-Cept alters the lining of the uterus (the endometrium), making it less receptive to an embryo.
Like most birth control pills, each pack of Ortho-Cept contains 21 days of active pills (they contain the hormones), followed by 7 days of inactive pills, with no active ingredients. This gives your body a break from the hormones, causing you to have a period.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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