Is lactose an inactive ingredient in all oral contraceptives? #212/14

Is lactose an inactive ingredient in all oral contraceptives?  We have a patient with pretty serious allergic reaction asking.

Good morning:


Lactose is an ingredient of almost all combined birth control pills.  The amount per pill is very, very small.


Yours is the first case of a serious allergic reaction to lactose if indeed lactose is the cause of your patient’s allergic problem.  Have you encouraged her to stop pill and how is she doing right now?


From Dr. Anita Nelson on 3-31: Dickey has a list of the inert ingredients in each of the pills.  You are right; very few do not have lactose.  It is an important teaching point I make with residents for lactose intolerant women who complain of GI symptoms with combined oral contraceptives.  Always have a pill on the formulary that does not have lactose.”


Thanks so much, Anita.  If you have a list of the pills with NO lactose I would be most appreciative if you would send it to me.


From Dr. Nelson on 4-2: “The only pill I found in Dickey without lactose filler was Demulen.  Pretty slim pickings.”


Amazing!  Extremely slim pickings.  Thank you Anita.



Anita L. Nelson, MD

Professor, Obstetrics and Gynecology

David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Medical Director, Women’s Health Care Programs

Harbor-UCLA Medical Center


To learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of combined oral contraceptive pills; go to: and click on Choices 2013 edition.  You can also order this wonderful new educational book from our website or by calling 404-875-5001.  Do you have your copy yet?  It is now available in English and Spanish.    

Key Words:  lactose, inactive, ingredient, oral contraceptive pills, allergic, reaction, combined oral contraceptive pills, Dickey, intolerance, complain, symptoms, Demulen birth control pills, Dr. Anita Nelson

Posted 4-5-2014, Updated 4-15-2014


Posted on

April 15, 2014