Disclaimer: None of the information in this article constitutes medical advice, and is just the opinion of the writer(s) and published for informational purposes only. We recommend that patients follow their doctor’s guidance in regard to birth control and family planning.
Vienva is a prescription birth control medication for women. It’s a combination contraceptive which means it’s comprised of two separate medications: levonorgestrel and ethinyl estradiol.
The second active ingredient is a synthetic form of estrogen that’s commonly included in oral birth control medication. It’s an active ingredient in Lo Loestrin Fe which we recently reviewed negatively.
In this article we’ll review the medical research on Vienva to determine if we believe it’s a safe and effective birth control option. We’ll highlight the side effects of the medication and compare it to other forms of birth control.
Does Vienva Work?
The most important question to ask when evaluating any prescription medication is whether or not it’s effective. Medications have to go through multiple research trials before they’re approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the U.S., so there’s a lot of medical data to draw from.
A medical review of the efficacy of Vienva, published in the Drugs journal in 2005, found that the medication was effective for preventing pregnancy. The study authors noted that in a trial with over 26,000 patient cycles, only 18 women became pregnant, and 6 of these pregnancies were due to non-adherence to the medication program (such as missing a daily pill).
The researchers noted that the medication was especially effective in women at or over the age of 35, with only one pregnancy in nearly 4,000 evaluable cycles.
A more recent clinical trial evaluated the effectiveness of Vienva taken on a continuous basis versus Vienva taken on a cyclical basis. Unsurprisingly, the medication was more effective when taken continuously. 323 women were enrolled in the trial and not a single one became pregnant when the drug was used continuously. The study authors concluded that Vienva was a “safe and effective oral contraceptive.”
A third research review mirrored the results from the other trials cited in this section. Vienva was found to be effective at preventing pregnancy, with a statistically significant reduction in pregnancies over the course of the trial.
We can conclude from the available research that Vienva is an effective birth control method.
How Does Vienva Work?
Vienva is effective because it inhibits ovulation, which is the process of an egg being released from the ovaries. Ovulation is crucial to conception, so by inhibiting this biological process it’s possible to significantly reduce the chance of pregnancy.
As noted in the first research review cited in the previous section, Vienva has a secondary biological effect which further reduces risk of pregnancy: the medication causes “a thickening of cervical mucus (making sperm entry into the uterus more difficult).”
Ovarian activity also appears to be suppressed by oral intake of Vienva. The size of ovarian follicles (which contain eggs) were reduced, and progesterone levels (a hormone which prepares the uterus for pregnancy) were also reduced.
Clearly Vienva causes a multitude of changes in the body which reduce the chances of pregnancy, making it a prime candidate for an oral contraceptive.
Vienva Side Effects
Medications which directly influence hormone levels tend to have moderate to severe side effects.
A medical review published in the Contraception journal evaluated the side effects of the active ingredients in Vienva. The dosage used was around 50% higher than Vienva so the frequency and intensity of the reported side effects are likely to be more severe than those experienced by Vienva patients.
The most common reported side effect was vertigo and headache, experienced by 58% of patients. Painful menstruation was experienced by 44.8% of patients, and gastrointestinal complaints like bloating and pain were experienced by 43.4% of patients. These are relatively high frequencies of side effects.
The previously-cited Drugs research review of Vienva reported significantly lower incidence of side effects. 14% of women reported headache, 8% of women reported uterine bleeding, 7% of women reported painful menstruation and 7% of women reported nausea.
Since the Drugs study used the exact dosage of active ingredients as in Vienva, we would consider these results more likely to be accurate and indicative of side effects risk.
Vienva Vs. Other Birth Control Methods
Vienva is likely to have similar efficacy to other oral contraceptives, as hormonal contraceptives act on similar biological processes in the body.
A medical review of Vienva suggested that the medication had similar efficacy to other oral birth control pills, and that its failure rate was 0.3% with perfect use and 8% with typical use. “Perfect use” refers to the practice of using the medication exactly as described on the label. A patient who used the medication daily without skipping a day would be using this drug “perfectly” and significantly reducing their chance of pregnancy.
“Typical use” is a medical term that allows for human error. Many patients forget to take the drug some days, and this increases the chance of drug failure.
The huge gap between perfect use and typical use is why Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptive (LARC) methods are so much more effective on average than oral contraceptives. As we discussed at length in our Nexplanon reviews article, LARC devices are simply more effective because the average person will forget to take their oral contraceptive some of the time, and these devices prevent this type of human error because they’re implanted into the body.
LARC devices like intrauterine devices (IUDs) are proven in medical research to be around 20x more effective than the pill.
The dosage of Vienva appears to be 0.1 milligrams (mg) levonorgestrel and 0.02 mg ethinyl estradiol according to a large medical distributor. However the dosage of this medication is hard to conclusively determine because we cannot locate a manufacturer website, which is an issue we’ve never encountered with pharmaceutical medication.
We would recommend that patients considering Vienva speak with their doctor about appropriate dosage, because a doctor may have access to information from the drug manufacturer that regular consumers do not.
Most of the medical research examined thus far in this article has used the doses referenced above, but there are also some studies using a 50% higher dose (0.15 mg levonorgestrel and 0.03 mg ethinyl estradiol). It’s unclear if this higher dose is available to be prescribed, so we would recommend that patients ask their doctor about this dose if they feel as though Vienva isn’t working for them at a lower dose.
Vienva User Reviews
We often cite Drugs.com as a source for user reviews, because it seems to be the largest repository of user reviews of pharmaceutical medications. We cannot guarantee the legitimacy of any of the reviews.
Drugs.com has a Vienva reviews page with 306 user reviews. The medication has a 4.6 out of 10 star rating which is one of the lowest ratings of medications we’ve recently reviewed.
The top positive review is from a user called “ABvienva” who gave the drug a 10 star rating and claims the drug has been effective for them without any side effects:
“So now I’ve been on it for over a month and have literally felt no changes to my body or mental health. No side affects and just a light, short 1st period. I know everyone is different but I‘ve had a positive experience.”
The top negative review is from a user named “Rachel” who gave the drug a 1 star rating who claims the medication has significantly worsened their mood:
“this is not worth it. By the time I got to the peach pills my emotions have been through the roof. I cry over the smallest things and have the worst mood swings on it.”
Medical Experts Discuss Vienva
One of the most popular YouTube videos on Vienva comes from a channel called “Pandia Health” and features an MD discussing Vienva and answering patient questions. The video appears unsponsored and is an informative resource for patients considering this medication: