Cerelle

Try the Cerelle pill for reliable oestrogen-free birth control

Cerelle is a progestogen-only pill (or mini pill) that’s free from oestrogen and its associated side effects. It’s just as effective at preventing pregnancy as a combined pill.

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Strength Quantity Price Stock
75mcg84 tablets£11.95In Stock
Prices exclude a prescription fee. This treatment requires a quick online consultation,
which a doctor will review to determine if a prescription is appropriate.

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Information

Dr Samantha Miller

Reviewed by Dr Samantha Miller MB ChB
(2017, University of Glasgow)
GMC number: 7561464

Information last reviewed 04/03/2021

About

What is Cerelle?

Cerelle is a type of progestogen-only pill or mini pill. The active ingredient in Cerelle is desogestrel, which is a type of synthetic progestogen. Cerelle is prescribed to prevent pregnancy.

How does Cerelle work?

Cerelle is a brand of the mini contraceptive pill, or progestogen-only pill. It prevents pregnancy primarily by stopping the ovaries from releasing an egg each month. It also works to thin the lining of the womb and thicken the mucus which surrounds the entrance to the womb. This makes it difficult for sperm to get through, and for a fertilised egg to attach to the womb.

How effective is Cerelle?

If you take Cerelle correctly is it over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy.  Everyday factors can cause it to be less effective, including remembering to take it daily and on time, stomach upsets and interactions with other medications. For these reasons the POP is around 91% effective with typical use.

Cerelle for non-contraceptive purposes

Cerelle may help reduce heavy and painful periods and the symptoms of PMS. Cerelle cannot be used for period delay.

Ingredients

Active ingredients

The active ingredient in Cerelle is desogestrel – a synthetic progestogen.

Inactive ingredients

The other ingredients in Cerelle are lactose monohydrate, potato starch, povidone K-30, silica, colloidal anhydrous, stearic acid and all-rac-α-tocopherol, poly[vinyl alcohol], titanium dioxide (E171), macrogol 3000, talc

Dosage

Cerelle dosage

Each tablet contains 75 micrograms (mcg) of desogestrel (a synthetic version of progesterone).

How to start Cerelle

You can start taking Cerelle at any time during your cycle but if you start it on the first day of a natural period, you will be protected from pregnancy right away. If you start it at any other time in your cycle, you must be sure you’re not pregnant, and you won’t be protected from pregnancy right away. Therefore you should use barrier contraception for the first seven days of pill-taking. Choose a suitable time of the day where you are most likely to remember to take it. You may be advised to wait until your period starts to make sure you are not pregnant.

How to take Cerelle

Cerelle should be taken daily at the same time everyday. It is taken continuously, every day, without a break, so when you reach the end of a pack, start the next one right away.

Is it essential that I take Cerelle at exactly the same time every day?

It’s important to take Cerelle at your scheduled time every day. This helps you to remember to take it and it’s essential in case you forget or something happens to prevent you from taking it on time. Sticking to an exact time makes it as effective as possible. 

What should I do if I missed a pill?

If you miss a pill, then take the missed one as soon as you remember, and your next one at the correct time. It’s okay if this means you are taking more than one in the same day. If you take the missed pill within 12 hours of the scheduled time, your contraception won’t be affected. However, if you are more than 12 hours late, you will need to use an additional contraceptive such as condoms for the next seven days to be protected against pregnancy. If you have already had unprotected sex and have missed a pill then you should seek out emergency contraception. In this case, let your pharmacist know that you are on the progestogen-only pill so that they can prescribe you a suitable treatment.

Side Effects

Cerelle side effects

Common side effects (may affect up to 1 in 10 people):

  • Spotting or irregular vaginal bleeding 
  • Absence of menstruation
  • Mood changes
  • Low libido
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Depression 
  • Acne
  • Tender breasts
  • Weight gain 

Uncommon side effects (may affect up to 1 in 100 people):

  • Vaginal infections 
  • Contact lenses causing irritation
  • Vomiting
  • Hair loss
  • Dysmenorrhoea (painful menstruation)
  • Ovarian cysts
  • Feeling more tired than usual

Rare side effects (may affect up to 1 in 1,000 people):

  • Rash
  • Hives
  • Erythema nodosum 
  • Breast secretion
  • Allergic or hypersensitivity reaction

Contraindications

Cerelle should not be taken if any of the following apply to you:

  • You have an active thrombosis (a blot clot) or thromboembolic disorder
  • If you have an allergy to any of the ingredients in Cerelle 
  • You have a severe liver disease where your liver function is abnormal
  • Cancer  is affected by the progestogen hormone
  • Unexplained vaginal bleeding 

Caution should be taken in the following circumstances:

  • If you have breast or liver cancer or have had it in the past
  • If you have ever experienced a blood clot or high blood pressure
  • If you are diabetic or have epilepsy 
  • If you have tuberculosis 

In these situations, inform your doctor who will assess whether Cerelle is suitable for you or not. They may need to monitor your symptoms to ensure the pill does not have a negative effect.

Drug interactions

Certain medicines can interact with the way Cerelle works, making it less effective at preventing pregnancy. These include:

  • Epilepsy medications (e.g. primidone, phenytoin, carbamazepine, oxcarbazepine, felbamate, topiramate and phenobarbital)
  • Antibiotics used to treat tuberculosis (e.g. rifampicin, rifabutin)
  • Medicines used to treat HIV (e.g. ritonavir, nelfinavir, nevirapine, efavirenz)
  • Medicines used to treat hepatitis C virus infection (e.g. boceprevir, telaprevir)
  • Certain medications used to treat high blood pressure in the blood vessels of the lungs (bosentan)
  • The herbal remedy St. John’s Wort
  • Certain antibiotics and antifungals (e.g. clarithromycin, erythromycin, griseofulvin, ketoconazole, itraconazole, fluconazole
  • Some medications used to treat high blood pressure (hypertension), angina or certain heart rhythm disorders (e.g. diltiazem)

Speak with your prescriber if you’re on any other medications.

Cerelle and alcohol

You can drink alcohol while taking Cerelle.

Breastfeeding whilst taking Cerelle

Cerelle is safe to use while breastfeeding and won’t cause harm to your baby or affect your milk supply.

Treatment Options

Switching contraceptive pill

You may want to switch to a different contraceptive pill if you experience unpleasant side effects. Your doctor or pharmacist will advise you on the best way to do this. Generally, you’ll be able to stop taking your current pill and start your new one the next day. Typically you’ll be advised to use condoms for a period of seven days while your contraceptive cover becomes effective.

Alternatives to Cerelle

There are several different brands of the mini pill, containing various forms of progestogen. Cerelle contains desogestrel as its active ingredient, however, there are other mini pills available that contain levonorgestrel or norethisterone as their progestogen. Alternatives to the progestogen-only pill are a combined pill, patch or ring; an intrauterine device or system (a coil), the contraceptive implant or the injection. Speak to your local sexual health service for advice. 

Cerelle vs the combined pill

Cerelle is a good option for women who cannot take oestrogen or experience unwanted side effects with the combined pill. Cerelle may be preferred as it usually causes fewer side effects but it doesn’t give you as much control over your menstruation cycle as the combined pill, as it often doesn’t produce a predictable bleed.

Q&A

When can I get pregnant after taking Cerelle?

It’s possible to get pregnant right away if you stop taking Cerelle. For some women, it may take a couple of months or longer but everyone is different and there are many factors that may affect your fertility.

If I have vomited, will Cerelle still work?

If you vomit within 3 - 4 hours after taking Cerelle or you have severe diarrhoea, the active substance may not have been completely absorbed. Follow the advice for a missed pill above. If you continue to vomit then you should use a barrier method of contraception for seven days after your symptoms disappear.

What should I do if I took a pill too late?

You can take your pill up to twelve hours after your scheduled time and your protection won’t be affected. For example, if you usually take your pill at 8am then you have until 8pm to take it if you have forgotten or an unforeseen circumstance occurs. If you take your pill later than this then you will not be protected against pregnancy and should use condoms for the next seven days, continuing the rest of your pack as usual.

Can you use Cerelle for period delay?

Cerelle can’t be used to delay your period as it works differently from the combined pill. Progestogen-only pills are taken every day, without a break, whereas the combined pill can delay your period if you were to run two packs together and skip the seven day break. Some women find that their periods stop altogether when taking Cerelle but others may experience irregularity.

When does Cerelle start to work?

If started on day one of your natural cycle (i.e. the first day of menstrual bleeding), Cerelle will work as a contraceptive right away. If you start it at any other time in your cycle, it will take 7 days of pill-taking to be effective as a contraceptive. You should be sure to use condoms or abstain from intercourse during these 7 days.

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