Updated on September 27, 2023
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Taking contraceptive pills is one of the most effective forms of preventing pregnancies. Althea is one of the most popular brands of "combination pills," which means it contains two kinds of hormones, estrogen, and progestin. These hormones help prevent a woman's ovaries from releasing an egg. It thickens her cervical mucus to make it difficult for sperm to travel or survive, and it thins the lining of her uterus to prevent embryo implantation.
The pill also helps women with reproductive conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome and endometriosis. It does not, however, protect you from sexually transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS.
Why take Althea pills
Althea pills have the same active ingredients as another popular contraceptive pill brand, Diane 35, and other lesser-known pills like Dinac 35, Elestra, Elyn, Frualine, Ginetta, Ancea, and MyPill. They all contain Cyproterone acetate and Ethinylestradiol. The former is a synthetic anti-androgen, a derivative of the hormone progesterone. The latter is the artificial form of the hormone estrogen.
Althea contains anti-androgen, so it's sometimes prescribed to women to help clear up severe acne. It's also used to address hirsutism, a condition where a woman grows excessive amounts of dark, coarse hair on body areas where men typically grow hair, such as the face, chest, and back.
Its formulation also allows women to regulate their menstrual cycles. Most women take Althea to manage polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and correct hormonal imbalances.
How to take Althea pills
How to use contraceptive pills effectively boils down to following the recommended dosage faithfully. Althea comes in a 21-day pill pack. According to MIMS Philippines, first-time users should take the first pill on the first day of your menstruation. However, a woman can also start taking her first pill any day as long as you're sure you're not pregnant.
After taking your first pill, continue taking it religiously every day for the first three weeks (Day 1 to 21). When you've finished one pack, stop taking the pills for the next seven days (Day 22-28). On the eighth day (Day 29/Day1), open and start on the next pack.
During the seven pill-free days, you should expect to have your menstrual period, although it might be lighter and shorter than usual. Nonetheless, even if your period has not entirely stopped, don't forget to take the first-day pill on Day 29/Day 1.
What to do if you missed a pill
As with other contraceptive pills, if you missed one, take it within 12 hours after the 24-hour lapse to make it still work to prevent pregnancy effectively. Then, take the pill due for the day at your regular time, even if it means taking two pills in one day.
Note that you should continue taking the remaining Althea pills as scheduled to avoid premature withdrawal bleeding. If you're planning to stop and or switch pill brands, you should only do so after finishing a pack or else bleeding may start.
Missing two or more consecutive pills will require you take more precautions against pregnancy. First, take the most recently missed pill as soon as you remember not taking it and discard all previously missed pills. Then, resume taking the next scheduled tablet and either abstain from sex or use condoms for the next seven days to remain protected.
If there are only one to six pills left in the pack, finish taking all the pills and start with a new pill pack immediately after you finish your current pack while still abstaining from sex or using condoms for added protection. Since you started on your next pill pack right after you finished one, you may not have your monthly menstruation.
If there are seven or more pills left in the pack, continue taking the contents of the pack. Do not take any pills for the next seven days (seven pill-free days). Start a new pack after the seven pill-free days.
Why women opt for Althea
For most women, it all boils down to budget. Althea at around Php500 is considerably more affordable than its counterparts. If you are wondering about the quality, the company behind Althea is Trust, yes, the well-known distributor of condoms and other contraceptive pills like Trust Pill, Daphne, and Lady.
For most women, it's not necessarily the price but the brand that she is more hiyang — she chooses the one with few side effects.
The possible side effects of Althea that other women may experience with other brands are: nausea, vomiting, skin or hair changes, headaches, water retention, slight weight changes, breast tenderness, and changes in libido or sexual drive. It also includes menstrual irregularities such as spotting, breakthrough bleeding, amenorrhea or absence of menstruation as possible adverse effects.
Here are some of the accounts of women who have tried Althea:
"I love Althea kasi 'di ako tumataba, although hindi rin naman pumapayat! 'Di na rin ako masyado nagkaka-pimples. Kampante rin ako na 'di ako mabubuntis!" one woman wrote on SmartParenting.com.ph's Parent Chat.
"I've been using Althea pills for almost one year, kaya lang [I needed to stop or switch brands] kasi sobrang dry ako down there and super walang gana talaga. Kawawa naman si hubby," said another woman of her Althea experience.
"I noticed dumami pimples ko [when I started using Althea] 'pag malapit na period ko [but] after that wala na! Also, lakas ko kumain, kaya pigil ako ngayon. Hindi naman sumasakit ulo ko pero lagi akong moody! As in parang gusto ko lagi mainis," a woman shared.
"Nung first pack ko, sumasakit yung ulo ko every night. Pero now nawala na, ok na din yung skin ko. Nagka-break out skin ko after giving birth, ngayon nawawala na," wrote another mom.
"Effective siya and nag clear up face ko less oily kaso allergic ako nangangati ako sa Althea," a woman shared, adding she noticed getting vaginal itchiness after taking Althea.
Why Althea is considered a budget-friendly option
We compared the prices of Althea with other contraceptives available online. As of September 2023, a box of Althea pills costs Php 514.00. However, a box of Diane-35 costs Php 689.50.
Another oral contraceptive available is Liza, which cost Php 713.75 at Watsons.
Why consult your doctor before taking Althea
Contraceptive pills are prescription medication. While it's generally safe, not all women can take them because there are risks associated with it like you check you may be allergic to some of its ingredients.
Althea pill is not for women who have liver-related conditions such as impaired liver function or cholestasis, Dubin-Johnson or Rotor syndromes, and hepatic adenoma. It's also not advisable for women with lipid metabolism and estrogen-dependent neoplasms such as breast or endometrial cancer.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women should also look for other forms of contraception other than Althea pills. It's also not for women with a history of skin conditions such as pruritus (itchiness of the skin) or cholestatic jaundice (liver disease) during pregnancy. Those with rare autoimmune skin diseases that developed during pregnancy like herpes gestationis and pemphigoid gestationis will not be prescribed Althea.
Althea is also not prescribed to women with undiagnosed vaginal bleeding, chorea (a neurological disorder characterized by jerky, involuntary movements), deteriorating otosclerosis, and severe or a focal migraine.
Before prescribing birth control pills, doctors will check if you had a sickle-cell disease or have a history of clinical depression or heart-related conditions. He will check your gallbladder and if you have any existing conditions that lead to fluid retention. A woman who smokes or is obese may also factor in a doctor's prescribing contraceptive pills.
Remember, too, that if you're on the pill, you need to be upfront with your doctor if you are taking other medications. You should never be on two different kinds of hormonal contraception. Taking contraceptive pills with analgesics, antimigraine drugs, and tranquilizers, as well as drinking alcohol while on it, may also decrease a contraceptive pill's effectiveness.
Frequently asked questions about Althea pills
1. Is Althea available without a prescription?
No, Althea is not available without a prescription. Getting a prescription for Althea or any other contraceptive pill is crucial for several reasons, including your safety, dosage and usage, and monitoring.
Contraceptive pills like Althea contain hormones that can have significant effects on a woman's body. It's important that a doctor evaluates your medical history, current health status, and potential contraindications before prescribing Althea.
2. Can Althea pills be used for acne management?
Yes, Althea can be prescribed solely for non-contraceptive purposes like acne management. Althea contains Cyproterone acetate, which is a synthetic anti-androgen. It's this anti-androgenic property that makes Althea effective in treating severe acne, as it helps regulate hormones responsible for acne development. Women who are not seeking contraception but are experiencing acne issues can discuss this option with their healthcare provider.
3. What should I do if I want to switch from Althea to another contraceptive method?
If you wish to switch from Althea to another contraceptive method, it's best to consult your healthcare provider. They can provide guidance on transitioning safely and effectively. It's essential to time the switch properly and use an alternative form of contraception during the transition to ensure continuous protection against pregnancy.
4. What should I do if I experience side effects with Althea?
If you experience side effects with Althea, it's essential to consult your healthcare provider. Common side effects like nausea, headaches, or changes in libido are typically temporary and may subside as your body adjusts to the medication. Your healthcare provider can provide guidance on managing these side effects and may recommend adjusting the dosage or switching to an alternative contraceptive method if needed.
Buy 1 box of Althea for Php 514.00 on Watsons, here.