The pill, already licensed in Europe under the brand name Qlaira, is the first four-phase oral contraceptive marketed in the United States, the FDA said.

It delivers varying doses of the hormones progestin at four times throughout each 28-day treatment cycle.

Nearly 12 million women in the United States and more than 100 million women worldwide currently use oral contraceptives, said the FDA's Dr. Scott Monroe.

The approval of Natazia provides another option for women who choose to use an oral contraceptive as their method of contraception.

Two studies of 1,867 women found Natazia was effective, with many of the same side effects as other birth control pills, the FDA said.

In October, Bayer reported the drug could also reduce excessive menstrual bleeding.