Junel Fe 1/20 vs Microgestin Fe 1/20

Published: September 21, 2020Updated: November 22, 2022

Along with Sprintec and Depo-Provera, Microgestin Fe is one of the most commonly prescribed birth controls in the U.S. Junel Fe is offered regularly in its place, as it is also a combination pill (contains two different active hormones).

How they work

These ‘combination’ pills contain 2 hormones: norethindrone (a form of progestin) and ethinyl estradiol (a form of estrogen). By stopping the release of an egg (ovulation) during your menstrual cycle and thickening the vaginal fluid, this medication helps prevent sperm from reaching an egg. Furthermore, it alters the womb’s lining to prevent any possible fertilized egg from attaching. 


These pills are highly effective at preventing pregnancy—around 91% with typical use. To achieve maximum contraceptive efficacy, the pills must be taken exactly as directed and at intervals not exceeding 24 hours. For best results take them at the same time each day. Neither Junel Fe 1/20 nor Microgestin Fe 1/20 protects against STIs (sexually transmitted infections)—only barrier methods do that! If you want additional protection, consider pairing your birth control pill with the female condom.

Effect on periods

You should have your period during the fourth week of the pill pack, and both these medications may make your periods more regular and/or decrease blood loss and painful periods. After you have taken the last tablet in the pack (during the placebo week) start a new pack the next day whether or not you have your period. We’re here to help, so let us know in the consultation if heavy periods are a concern for you so our doctors can help you find the right fit. Once you start a medication, we’re always available to address your concerns via text messages.

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Effect on skin quality

If certain hormone levels are the cause of your acne, you may see a marked improvement when using Junel Fe or Microgestin Fe. Due to the individual nature of a person’s hormone levels, we encourage you to talk to a doctor about all possible options before starting any new birth control regime.

Effect on weight

Estrogen, which is present in both Microgestin Fe and Junel Fe, may impact the weight of some patients. However, this is typically only 1-4 pounds of water weight, not fat. As always, talk to your doctor about your options if you experience any major side effects. 


Both Junel Fe and Microgestin Fe come in packs of three, with each pack containing 28 tablets. Each pack contains:

  • A majority of pills with active medication (this can range from 21-24 per month)
  • The remainder are inactive (or placebo) pills 

Consult your doctor or the package insert to determine which each pill is.

How to take Junel Fe 1/20 and Microgestin Fe 1/20

  • Take the active tablet with or without food on the first Sunday after the start of your period. For pregnancy protection, use additional non-hormonal contraception (such as the female condom aka FC2) for the first 7 days of your first cycle pack.
  • Take subsequent active tablets once daily at the same time each day until complete.
  • Take inactive tablet(s) daily for the remaining days and at the same time of day that the active tablets were taken (you don’t have to take the inactive pills, but they are a good way to keep on schedule). You should typically get your period during the days that the inactive tablets are taken. If you are choosing to skip your period, then simply ignore the inactive tablets and move right onto your next pack.

Side effects 

Most side effects of Junel Fe and Microgestin Fe are mild and often go away after a few weeks. Others may be more serious and can require medical care. 

Common effects:

  • bloating
  • blotchy spots on the exposed skin
  • breast enlargement or tenderness
  • feeling sad, empty, or irritable
  • itching of the vagina or outside genitals
  • pain during sexual intercourse
  • stomach cramps
  • thick, white curd-like vaginal discharge without odor or with mild odor
  • trouble concentrating or sleeping
  • trouble wearing contact lenses

Serious side effects:

  • blood clots
  • stomach pain
  • severe headaches
  • high blood pressure

If you're still struggling with any mild side effects after you've been on Junel Fe or Microgestin for three months, another birth control brand or method may be a better fit. Talk to your doctor about your options. Our doctors are available to reassess and write a new prescription at any time (at no cost to you).

If you experience any of the serious side effects above, contact a doctor immediately.

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Junel Fe and Microgestin Fe are both very affordable birth control options. If you have insurance, you can get Junel Fe or Microgestin Fe for $0 copay*, and if you’re paying out-of-pocket, you can get them for as little as $20-22/month through SimpleHealth.

*In the rare case a copay over $20 is required - you’ll hear from us!

Other Equivalent Birth Control Options

Junel Fe 1/20, Loestrin Fe 1/20Blisovi FE 1/20Norethindrone-Ethinyl Estradiol 1 mg-with iron 20 mcg tablet

Also known as

Tarina FE 1/20, Larin FE 1/20, Gildess FE 1/20, Aurovela FE 1/20

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