Marvelon helps to protect you from unwanted pregnancy

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

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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 which 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.

When does Marvelon start to work?

If you start taking Marvelon on days 1-5 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 pregnant and for maximum efficiency. 

Other purposes for Marvelon

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


Active ingredients

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

Inactive ingredients

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


How to start Marvelon

The optimum time to start Marvelon is on the first day of your period. Choose a time of the day that will be convenient for you to take it. Ideally you should begin taking Marvelon in the first five days of your period which will provide protection against pregnancy right away. You can start Marvelon at any time during your cycle however, but you should use condoms for the first seven days if you start taking it after the fifth day of your period. 

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 it each day.

What should I do if I missed a pill?

If it's 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 as usual. If you don't remember to take your pill until the next day, take your missed one as soon as possible even if this means you are taking two at the same time. After missing a pill, 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 have less than seven pills left, 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 which 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 include: 

  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Breast pain or tenderness 
  • Depression 
  • Mood changes 
  • Weight gain
  • Headaches

Less common side effects include: 

  • Migraines 
  • Reduced sex drive 
  • Fluid retention 
  • Vomiting 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Rash
  • Hives
  • Breast enlargement 
  • Breakthrough bleeding or spotting

Rare side effects may include: 

  • Allergic reaction 
  • Irregular vaginal bleeding 
  • Nipple secretion 
  • Hypersensitivity 
  • Discomfort wearing contact lenses 
  • Erythema nodosum
  • Erythema multiforme
  • Weight loss
  • Blood clots
  • Breast cancer
  • Cervical cancer
  • Liver problems
  • Gallstones 
  • High blood pressure
  • Chorea
  • An increase in systemic lupus erythematosus
  • Stomach and intestine disorders 
  • Worsening of otosclerosis and porphyria 


You should not take Marvelon if: 

  • You have or have ever experienced a blood clot
  • You have a disorder which can make you susceptible to blood clotting 
  • You are scheduled to have an operation 
  • You spend a lot of time off your feet
  • You have ever had a heart attack or stroke
  • You have ever had angina pectoris or transient ischaemic attack
  • You have severe diabetes, very high blood pressure or a high level of fat in the blood
  • You have hyperhomocysteinaemia
  • You have ever had a migraine with aura
  • You have ever had severe liver disease
  • You have ever had a liver tumour
  • You have ever had pancreatitis 
  • You have cancer of the breast, ovary or womb lining 
  • You have unexplained vaginal bleeding 
  • You are allergic to any of the ingredients 

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 inform your doctor that you are taking Marvelon before taking any other medications to ensure they will not cause any 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 pill. Alongside Marvelon, popular alternatives include Microgynon, Femodene, Cilest, Brevinor and Rigevidon. It's 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 also long acting reversible methods of contraception including the IUD or IUS (known as the coil) or the contraceptive implant, injection or patch. 

Marvelon vs the mini pill

Marvelon is a version of the combined pill which means it contains both oestrogen and progesterone hormones. The mini pill differs in that it only contains progesterone. It's also known as the progesterone-only pill (POP). The mini pill may be offered to women who are unable to take the combined pill. It produces less 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 pill, finish your current pack and begin taking Marvelon straight away without taking the seven day break. For women using the progesterone 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 are unsure, check with your doctor and familiarise yourself with the instructions inside the box. 


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 less than four hours after you take 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 likely to be unable 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 which can affect 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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