Apri vs Sprintec

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For women seeking birth control, certain drugs that alter hormone levels can help in preventing pregnancy. Apri and Sprintec are two such oral contraceptives commonly prescribed for this purpose. Both contain a combination of estrogen (ethinyl estradiol) and progestin (desogestrel in Apri and norgestimate in Sprintec) which work together to prevent ovulation, thus inhibiting the chance of fertilization. While both medications have similar contraceptive effects, their different types of progestin may lead to slightly diverse side effect profiles. For example, some users report less water retention with desogestrel-containing pills like Apri compared to those containing norgestimate like Sprintec. It's also important to note that while these medications primarily serve as contraceptives, they are sometimes used off-label for managing symptoms related to menstrual disorders or acne.

What is Apri?

Desogestrel and Ethinyl Estradiol, the generic names for Apri, are a part of the combined hormonal contraceptive (CHC) class of birth control pills. They were approved by the FDA in 1996. Apri functions by preventing ovulation and thickening cervical mucus to hinder sperm from reaching an egg. It is prescribed for women who want to prevent pregnancy or regulate menstruation cycles.

On the other hand, Norgestimate and Ethinyl Estradiol make up Sprintec, another CHC pill that was introduced later than Apri but has gained considerable popularity over time due to its effectiveness in preventing pregnancies while causing fewer side effects like nausea or weight gain compared to some other contraceptives.

Both medications work similarly; however, they have different progesterone components which can lead to slightly varying side effects between individuals based on their body's specific reactions.

What conditions is Apri approved to treat?

Apri is approved for the management of a range of conditions:

  • Prevention of pregnancy in women who elect to use oral contraceptives as a method of contraception
  • Treatment of moderate acne vulgaris in females at least 14 years old, who have no known contraindications to oral contraceptive therapy and have achieved menarche
  • Sprintec, on the other hand, has similar indications with an added benefit for primary dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation) relief.

How does Apri help with these illnesses?

Apri function as birth control by providing a steady dose of synthetic hormones similar to the ones naturally produced by a woman’s body. These hormones, namely estrogen and progestin, work together to inhibit ovulation – the release of an egg from the ovaries. They also thicken cervical mucus to make it more difficult for sperm to reach any potential eggs, and alter the lining of the uterus so that a fertilized egg cannot implant. This combination effectively prevents pregnancy in three ways.

Sprintec works similarly but has slightly different levels of these same hormones. Both Apri and Sprintec are considered monophasic pills which means they deliver the same level of hormones throughout each pill cycle (excluding placebo days). The major difference lies in their specific formulation; while both have 0.035 mg ethinyl estradiol (a form of estrogen), Apri contains desogestrel (a type of progestin) whereas Sprintec includes norgestimate.

Choosing between them often comes down to how well individual patients tolerate certain types or amounts of hormonal content due to possible side effects such as mood changes, weight gain or loss, spotting between periods etc., hence always consult with your healthcare provider before starting or switching birth control methods.

What is Sprintec?

Sprintec is a brand name for a combined oral contraceptive pill that includes ethinyl estradiol and norgestimate. These two hormones work in conjunction to prevent ovulation, meaning they stop the release of an egg from the ovaries each month. Sprintec also changes the mucus on the cervix which makes it difficult for sperm to enter into uterus and thins uterine lining making it less likely for fertilized egg to attach itself there. It was approved by FDA in 1997 as birth control method. Being not only an oral contraceptive but also beneficial in treating severe acne and regulating menstrual cycles, gives Sprintec a broader utility than other typical birth control pills such as Apri. However, while side effects are generally mild, they can include nausea, breast tenderness, and weight gain (common side effects of most contraceptives). The dual action on preventing ovulation and altering cervical mucus can make it more effective especially where other 'typical' contraceptives like Apri might not have been sufficient.

What conditions is Sprintec approved to treat?

Sprintec is an FDA approved oral contraceptive for the prevention of pregnancy. It uses a combination of hormones, estrogen and progestin, to prevent ovulation (the release of an egg from the ovaries). In addition to preventing pregnancy, Sprintec can also be used in treating:

  • Acne in women who are at least 15 years old and have started having menstrual periods
  • Regulation of menstrual cycles - it makes your periods more regular
  • Less painful menstruation
  • Decreased risk of ovarian cysts

How does Sprintec help with these illnesses?

Sprintec, like Apri, is a combined oral contraceptive that contains two types of hormones - an estrogen (ethinyl estradiol) and a progestin (norgestimate). These hormones work synergistically to prevent ovulation and alter the cervical mucus and uterine lining, making it harder for sperm to reach the uterus or for a fertilized egg to attach. Sprintec works by maintaining consistent hormone levels in your body, which helps control your menstrual cycle while preventing pregnancy. Unlike Apri, Sprintec has higher dosages of both hormonal components; this can provide more effective contraception but may also lead to increased side effects such as nausea or weight gain. Like all birth control pills, neither drug should be used if you smoke cigarettes or are over 35 years old due to increased risk of serious cardiovascular events.

How effective are both Apri and Sprintec?

Apri and Sprintec are both combination hormonal contraceptives that have established histories of success in preventing pregnancy. They were approved by the FDA around a decade apart, with Apri gaining approval in 1992 and Sprintec following suit in 2001. As they contain different forms of estrogen and progestin, they may be prescribed under different circumstances.

The effectiveness of Apri and Sprintec at preventing pregnancy has been studied extensively; these drugs exhibit similar efficacy rates of over 99% when used properly. In studies comparing oral contraceptive pills, none of the metrics measured to determine efficacy differed significantly between patients using Apri or those using Sprintec.

A review conducted in 2010 found that side effects experienced by users were generally mild for both medications, although women taking Apri reported fewer instances of breakthrough bleeding compared to other combined oral contraceptives including Sprintec. The same study demonstrated that both hormones contained within these products are well-tolerated by most women.

Despite their similarities, there can still be variation between individuals on how well each drug is tolerated or how effective it is due to individual differences in metabolism and reaction to the specific formulations present within each medication. This means while one woman might prefer or better tolerate Apri's particular blend of ethinyl estradiol/desogestrel formulation (a third-generation progestin), another woman might find she better tolerates or prefers norgestimate/ethinyl estradiol as found in Sprintec (also a third-generation progestin).

In terms of accessibility, however, significant research indicates that generic options like sprintec tend to be more cost-effective than brand-name options like apri which could play a role if affordability is an issue.

abstract image of a researcher studying a bottle of drug.

At what dose is Apri typically prescribed?

Oral dosages of Apri and Sprintec are typically one pill taken at the same time each day, preferably after the evening meal or at bedtime. Both medications come in a 28-day cycle pack with 21 active hormone pills and 7 inactive pills. Studies have shown that taking these birth control methods correctly is highly effective in preventing pregnancy. Adolescents who start on hormonal contraceptives should consult their healthcare provider to determine the most suitable regimen for them. In any case, it's important not to exceed the prescribed dosage or miss doses as it can lower the efficacy of these contraceptive methods.

At what dose is Sprintec typically prescribed?

Sprintec (norgestimate and ethinyl estradiol) is a birth control pill that's typically started on the first day of your menstrual period or on the first Sunday after your period begins. The recommended dosage for Sprintec, like many oral contraceptives, is one tablet taken by mouth at the same time each day. Each pack contains 21 active pills and seven inert ones- designed to keep you in the habit of taking one pill every day. If there are any side effects or if it appears ineffective in preventing pregnancy after several months of use, consult with your healthcare provider who may adjust your dosage or try an alternative contraceptive method.

What are the most common side effects for Apri?

Common side effects of both Apri and Sprintec include:

  • Nausea, especially when first starting the medication
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Bloating or abdominal cramps
  • Increased or decreased appetite
  • Changes in weight or fat distribution
  • Breast tenderness, swelling, or discharge
  • Freckles or darkening of facial skin (melasma)
  • Headache, nervousness, dizziness
  • Loss of scalp hair; increased body hair growth
  • Problems with contact lenses (increased discomfort)

Less common but more serious side effects can occur due to hormonal changes caused by these medications. These may include mood swings/depression symptoms, significant rise in blood pressure leading to headaches/blurred vision etc., severe stomach pain/nausea/vomiting indicative of liver problems and signs of stroke like sudden weakness/paralysis on one side of body. Always seek immediate medical attention if you suspect any such serious side effect.

abstract image of a patient experiencing side effect

Are there any potential serious side effects for Apri?

Apri and Sprintec, both birth control pills, are generally safe for most women. However, in rare cases, serious side effects may occur:

  • Signs of a blood clot: sudden vision loss or blurriness; severe headache or pain behind the eyes; chest pain spreading to your jaw or shoulder; shortness of breath; severe stomach pain; numbness or weakness on one side of your body.
  • Liver problems: jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes); dark urine color; nausea/vomiting/loss of appetite lasting more than a few days.
  • High potassium level symptoms: muscle weakness, slow heart rate, weak pulse, tingly feeling.
  • Symptoms related to depression: sleep problems (insomnia), changes in weight or appetite, decreased interest in sex.

If you experience any unusual health issue while taking either Apri or Sprintec — particularly if these symptoms persist — contact your healthcare provider immediately.

What are the most common side effects for Sprintec?

Sprintec, similar to other birth control pills, may have a range of side effects including:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Abdominal cramping or bloating
  • Changes in weight and appetite
  • Headaches and dizziness
  • Breast tenderness or swelling
  • Swelling of the feet or ankles (fluid retention)
  • Changes in menstrual periods
  • Frequent urination issues
    These are not all the potential side effects of Sprintec. Some women might also experience mood changes, nervousness, trouble sleeping and decreased interest in sexual intercourse. It's important to consult your doctor if you experience any unusual symptoms while on this medication.

Are there any potential serious side effects for Sprintec?

Sprintec, like other birth control pills, can cause certain side effects. Some of these might be severe and require immediate medical attention:

  • Signs of an allergic reaction: difficulty breathing; hives; swelling of your face, lips, tongue or throat.
  • Signs that may indicate a blood clot: sudden vision loss or blurring; stabbing chest pain or feeling short of breath; coughing up blood; sudden numbness or weakness (especially on one side of the body); severe headache, vomiting, dizziness or fainting; painful swelling in your leg.
  • Symptoms associated with liver problems: jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes), upper stomach pain accompanied by tiredness and loss appetite.
  • Changes in mood such as depression symptoms - sleep problems, weakness, tired feeling and changes in weight. Remember to consult your healthcare provider immediately if you experience any such adverse reactions while taking Sprintec.

Contraindications for Apri and Sprintec?

Both Apri and Sprintec, along with most other contraceptive medications, may cause mood swings or symptoms of depression in some people. If you notice your mood worsening significantly, or an increase in suicidal ideation, thoughts, or behavior while taking these birth control pills, please seek immediate medical attention.

Neither Apri nor Sprintec should be used if you are currently using certain Hepatitis C drug combinations as they may interact harmfully. Always tell your prescriber what medications you are taking to avoid dangerous interactions with Apri and Sprintec; these Hepatitis C drugs will require a period of about 5 weeks to clear from the system after stopping them before starting on either of these birth control methods.

Birth control pills like Apri and Sprintec also have several contraindications such as blood clotting disorders (DVT), recent major surgery, uncontrolled hypertension etc., so it is important that your healthcare provider evaluates your overall health status before prescribing these hormonal contraceptives. In general terms always remember: no medication is completely safe without considering individual health characteristics and possible drug-drug interactions.

How much do Apri and Sprintec cost?

For the brand name versions of these drugs:

  • The cost for a 28-tablet pack of Apri (0.15 mg/0.03 mg) averages around $80, which works out to about $2.85/day.
  • The price for a similar quantity and dosage of Sprintec is also about $80, working out to approximately the same daily cost as Apri.

Thus, if you are choosing between Apri or Sprintec based on cost alone, they are equivalent in terms of their per-day treatment basis. However, please note that cost should not be your primary consideration when deciding which contraceptive pill is right for you.

As far as generic versions go:

  • Desogestrel-Ethinyl Estradiol (the active ingredients in Apri) costs start at around $20 for a pack with 28 tablets (0.15 mg/0.03 mg), reducing the daily medication expenditure to less than one dollar.
  • Norgestimate-Ethinyl Estradiol (the active ingredients in Sprintec) has an even lower starting price point at approximately $10 for 28 tablets; thus providing another affordable option.

Remember that prices may vary depending on your location and pharmacy, so it's worth shopping around if affordability is crucial to you.

Popularity of Apri and Sprintec

Desogestrel and ethinyl estradiol, in generic form as well as brand names such as Apri, was estimated to have been prescribed to about 1.8 million people in the US in 2020. This combination of hormones accounted for just over 10% of oral contraceptive prescriptions in the US. Desogestrel-containing contraceptives like Apri appear to be somewhat less popular than those containing other progestins, but they remain a common choice.

Norgestimate and ethinyl estradiol, including brand versions such as Sprintec, was prescribed to around 4.2 million people in the USA in 2020. In the US, norgestimate-containing birth control accounts for nearly a quarter of all combined oral contraceptives prescriptions and just under 12% of overall contraceptive prescriptions. The prevalence of norgestimate-containing contraceptives has remained steady over recent years with slight increments due to its high safety profile.


Both Apri and Sprintec are oral contraceptives that have been widely used for many years, offering reliable prevention of pregnancy. Clinical studies affirm their efficacy over placebos, with typical use effectiveness rates above 90%. Both these drugs contain a combination of synthetic estrogen (ethinyl estradiol) and progesterone (desogestrel in Apri, norgestimate in Sprintec), which prevent ovulation.

Due to their different progestin components, they may be prescribed under different circumstances. For instance, some women might tolerate one type better than the other based on individual physiological factors or experience fewer side effects with one over the other.

Both contraceptives are available as generic medications – an advantage for patients paying out-of-pocket. An adjustment period is common when starting either drug; initial side effects often decrease after the first few months of usage.

The side effect profiles of both drugs bear similarities but can vary due to their different progestins. Commonly reported ones include nausea, breast tenderness and changes in menstrual cycle patterns. With both Apri and Sprintec users must closely monitor any unusual symptoms or mood changes while taking these medicines and should seek immediate medical help if severe complications appear such as chest pain or migraines.