Marvelon

Marvelon helps to protect you from unwanted pregnancy

Marvelon is a combined birth control pill for women wishing to prevent unplanned pregnancy. This pill also can help women who have PMS, acne and painful or irregular periods.

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Strength Quantity Price Stock
30mcg/150mcg63 tablets£13.95In Stock
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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 27/02/2021

About

What is Marvelon?

Marvelon is a type of the combined contraceptive pill for women wishing to prevent unplanned pregnancies. It's one of the most popular forms of contraception, being straightforward to take and it does not interrupt sex.

How does Marvelon work?

Marvelon contains two types of hormones: ethinylestradiol and desogestrel. These are synthetic versions of oestrogen and progesterone which are produced naturally by the body. They work together to prevent ovulation so that the ovaries do not release an egg each month, overriding your natural cycle. The mucus surrounding the entrance to the womb thickens and the lining of the womb thins. This makes it difficult for sperm to get through and for an egg to attach itself to the wall of the uterus should fertilisation occur. 

How effective is Marvelon?

When taken correctly, Marvelon is over 99% effective. There are several factors that can reduce the effectiveness of the combined contraceptive pill. These include missing pills, taking certain types of medication which interact with the way Marvelon works and vomiting and diarrhoea. These factors give Marvelon overall effectiveness of around 91%.

When does Marvelon start to work?

If you start taking Marvelon on day 1 of your period it will start to work right away. Otherwise, you may need to use an additional barrier method of contraception, such as condoms, for the first seven days. It's recommended to begin Marvelon on the first day of your period to ensure that you are not already pregnant and for maximum efficiency. 

Other purposes for Marvelon

Marvelon may also be used for non-contraceptive purposes. It can help women who have premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and heavy, painful or irregular periods and may also be prescribed to help treat acne.

Ingredients

Active ingredients

Marvelon contains 150 micrograms of desogestrel and 30 micrograms of ethinylestradiol.

Inactive ingredients

The other ingredients contained in Marvelon are dl-alpha-tocopherol, potato starch, povidone, stearic acid, aerosol and lactose.

Which ingredients can cause an allergic reaction?

None of the active or inactive ingredients in Marvelon has been linked to cases of severe allergic reactions. Marvelon does contain lactose in small quantities which is deemed safe for those who are lactose intolerant, however, if you have a severe lactose allergy this medication might cause you some uncomfortable stomach issues.

Dosage

How to start Marvelon?

The optimum time to start Marvelon is on the first day of your period as it will then work as a contraceptive straight away. Choose a time of the day that will be convenient for you to take it. You can start Marvelon at any time during your cycle, however, if you can be sure you have not already become pregnant, but you should use condoms for the first seven days.

How to take Marvelon?

Marvelon should be taken at the same time every day for a period of 21 days. When you reach the end of the pack you'll then have a pill-free week which is when you have your period. The blister packs have the days of the week printed on them to help you remember to take them each day.

What should I do if I missed a pill?

If it has been less than 12 hours since you were due to take your pill then there is no need to worry. Take it as soon as you remember and continue with the rest of the pack as usual. 

If it has been more than 12 hours since you were due to take your pill, take your missed one as soon as possible even if this means you are taking two at the same time. After missing a pill in this way, use condoms or another alternative form of contraception for the next seven days as you may not be protected from pregnancy. 

If you miss more than one pill, only take the most recent missed pill and leave the previous ones. If you’ve had sex during a time when you’ve missed pills, you may be at risk of pregnancy, particularly if the missed pills were from the first 7 days of a pack.

If you have less than seven pills left in your pack after a missed pill, start your next pack right away and skip the seven-day break.

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

If you take your pill within 12 hours of your usual time then this will not affect your protection. Keep taking the rest of your pill pack at your usual time. If it's been more than 12 hours then you may not be protected against pregnancy and should use additional contraception for the next seven days as a precaution. If you regularly forget, setting an alarm or reminder may help you to take your pill on time. 

Side Effects

Marvelon side effects

There are some health risks associated with taking the pill, mainly the increased risk of a blood clot. This is rare but it does mean if you have an underlying condition that puts you at risk of blood clotting then the combined pill may not be suitable for you. Your doctor will assess your health and medical history before prescribing Marvelon. 

Common side effects (typically affect up to 1 in 10 women) include: 

  • Stomach problems such as nausea or abdominal pain
  • Breast pain or tenderness 
  • Depression or mood changes 
  • Weight gain
  • Headaches

Less common side effects (typically affect up to 1 in 100 women) include: 

  • Migraines 
  • Reduced sex drive 
  • Fluid retention manifesting as swollen hands, ankles or feet
  • Vomiting or diarrhoea 
  • Skin problems such as a rash or hives
  • Breast enlargement 
  • Breakthrough bleeding or spotting, particularly in the first few months of pill-taking

Rare side effects (typically affect up to 1 in 1,000 women) may include: 

  • Blood clots – this includes a deep vein thrombosis (DVT), pulmonary embolism (PE), heart attacks, a clot in a vessel of the eye, stroke or transient ischaemic attack (TIAs, mini-strokes) or a clot anywhere else in the body (e.g. stomach, kidney)
  • Allergic or hypersensitivity reaction 
  • Irregular vaginal bleeding 
  • A change in vaginal discharge or secretions
  • Nipple secretion 
  • Hypersensitivity 
  • Discomfort wearing contact lenses 
  • Erythema nodosum (skin condition manifesting as red bumps)
  • Erythema multiforme (a skin condition that causes a red target-shaped rash)
  • Weight loss
  • Breast cancer
  • Cervical cancer
  • Liver problems
  • Gallstones 
  • High blood pressure
  • Chorea (a disorder that causes abnormal movements)
  • An increase in symptoms of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)
  • Stomach and intestine disorders 
  • Worsening of otosclerosis (a condition of the inner ear that can cause hearing loss)
  • Worsening of porphyria (a liver disorder that can affect the skin or nerves)

Contraindications

You should not take Marvelon if you: 

  • Are pregnant or think you might be pregnant
  • Have or have ever experienced a blood clot
  • Have a disorder that can make you susceptible to blood clotting 
  • Are scheduled to have an operation 
  • Spend a lot of time off your feet
  • Have ever had a heart attack or stroke
  • Have ever had angina pectoris or transient ischaemic attack (TIA, mini-stroke)
  • Have severe diabetes, very high blood pressure or a high level of fat in the blood
  • Have hyperhomocysteinaemia
  • Have ever had a migraine with aura (visual or sensory changes)
  • Have ever had severe liver disease
  • Have ever had a liver tumour
  • Have ever had pancreatitis 
  • Have cancer of the breast, ovary or womb lining 
  • Have unexplained vaginal bleeding 
  • Are allergic to any of the ingredients 
  • Are over the age of 50
  • Are over the age of 35 and you smoke

Drug interactions

Certain medications interact with the way Marvelon works. These include: 

  • Epilepsy treatments
  • HIV treatments 
  • Tuberculosis treatments
  • Hepatitis C treatments 
  • St John's wort

Always let your doctor know if you are taking any other medications, including alternative medicines before they prescribe you any treatment. This is important, as some medications may cause adverse reactions, or render the pill ineffective. 

Marvelon and alcohol

Drinking alcohol while you are taking Marvelon will not produce any adverse effects. 

Treatment Options

Alternatives to Marvelon

There are lots of different brands of the combined pill. Alongside Marvelon, popular alternatives include Microgynon, Femodene, Cilest, Brevinor and Rigevidon. It is common to experience side effects when you first begin Marvelon but if these persist after several months then your doctor may try you with a different type of pill. There are other ways to take combined hormonal contraception such as the patch and the vaginal ring. There is also the progestogen-only pill which often has fewer side effects than the combined pill. There are also long-acting reversible methods of contraception including the IUD or IUS (known as the coil) or the contraceptive implant or injection.

Marvelon vs the mini pill

Marvelon is a version of the combined pill which means it contains both oestrogen and progestogen hormones. The mini pill differs in that it only contains progestogen. It's also known as the progestogen-only pill (POP). The mini-pill may be offered to women who are unable to take the combined pill. It typically produces fewer side effects and there are fewer health risks associated with it. Marvelon is safe to use if you are healthy but certain underlying conditions may mean that the combined pill is not suitable for you. 

Switching contraceptive pill

There are many different types of the pill and not all of them will work for every woman. If you are switching to Marvelon from a different type of combined pill, finish your current pack and begin taking Marvelon straight away without taking the seven-day break. For women using the progestogen-only pill, you should switch to Marvelon on the first day of your period, even if this causes you to take the two different pills on the same day. If you do not bleed on the POP, you can begin it at any time. When switching from POP to a combined pill, you should use condoms for a period of seven days until you are covered by your new pill. If you are unsure, check with your doctor and familiarise yourself with the instructions inside the box.

Q&A

Can you use Marvelon for period delay?

Marvelon can be used to skip your period if you have an event or occasion coming up where having your period will cause inconvenience. To delay your period with Marvelon, skip your pill-free week and begin the next pack the day after you finish your current one.

If I have vomited, will Marvelon still work?

If you vomit within 3 to 4 hours of taking your pill then you may not be protected against pregnancy. Take another Marvelon pill right away and continue with the rest of your pack as usual; your cycle will be a day shorter than usual. If you continue to vomit then the pill is unlikely to be absorbed by the body. In this case, use additional contraception for seven days after your symptoms clear up.

When can I get pregnant after taking Marvelon?

It is possible to get pregnant right away after you stop taking Marvelon. For some women, it will take up to six months or more. There is no definite time scale as there are many factors that can affect your fertility and everyone is different. In general, it takes a couple of months for your menstrual cycle to adjust and return to normal after coming off the pill so you may not be able to get pregnant until this happens.

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