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|Type of medicine||Contraceptive|
|Works by||Thickens cervical mucus making it harder for sperm to enter the uterus. Secondly: It stops eggs from being released, therefore stops ovulation.|
|Effective within||Immediately if started on the first day of your period|
|Pack size||84 tablets|
|Common side effects||Irregular periods, spotting or no periods, Changes to your mood, Decreased sexual desire (libido), Headaches, Feeling sick, Acne and spots, Breast pain and tenderness, Weight gain|
|Use with alcohol||No known issues|
What is Cerelle?
Cerelle is a contraceptive pill that is used to prevent pregnancy.
Cerelle is a progesterone-only pill (also known as a POP or “mini-pill”) containing the synthetic hormone desogestrel. Desogestrel prevents pregnancy by stopping the female body from ovulating and by making it harder for sperm to reach the egg.
Cerelle can be an excellent hormonal contraceptive option if you are a woman who can not use products containing oestrogen or if you are currently breastfeeding and looking for a reliable oral contraceptive.
Cerelle is manufactured by Consilient Health and comes in boxes of 84 tablets.
Cerelle is a prescription-only medication. You can order Cerelle online using an online doctor or pharmacy service like The Independent Pharmacy. UK registered doctors will be able to prescribe you this contraceptive pill if you want to start using it.
How does Cerelle work?
Cerelle contains one active ingredient called desogestrel. Desogestrel is a synthetic version of the female sex hormone progesterone.
Desogestrel works in two ways to prevent pregnancy: firstly, desogestrel thickens cervical mucus making it harder for sperm to enter the uterus. Secondly: It stops eggs from being released and, therefore stops ovulation.
How effective is Cerelle?
When taken as directed in the Patient Information Leaflet, Cerelle is highly effective as a progesterone-only contraceptive pill and prevents pregnancy in around 99% of users.
Periods & bleeding whilst taking Cerelle
Most women, who take Cerelle or any other mini-pill, will experience changes to their periods, particularly when they first move to Cerelle. However, most irregular bleeding will resolve within the first few months.
It is also not uncommon for some women to experience no monthly period for the entire time they take Cerelle.
If you carry on experiencing constant bleeding, spotting or irregular bleeding after the first few months of taking Cerelle, or if you are worried at all, speak to a doctor, pharmacist or nurse for advice.
Does Cerelle cause weight gain?
Weight gain is a more commonly reported side effect of taking Cerelle, alongside other oral contraceptive pills. However, there is very little evidence to suggest that there is a definite link between the pill and weight gain.
If you are taking Cerelle or any other hormonal contraceptive and you are worried about your weight, you should discuss this with a doctor or practice nurse.
Does Cerelle cause acne?
Cerelle doesn’t cause acne, but it may make existing acne worse for some users.
Cerelle and other hormonal contraceptive pills may cause some women to experience increased breakouts or spots. This is because the hormone progesterone causes the skin to increase its production of sebum, an oily substance that protects and hydrates your skin. Too much sebum causes pores to become blocked, causing acne problems.
Some women will find that their condition settles after a few months of taking Cerelle.
If you continue to experience acne breakouts and skin problems and you think they are related to taking Cerelle, speak to your doctor. They may suggest moving you to alternative methods of contraception, such as a combined contraceptive pill, or non-hormonal contraceptive options.
Coming off Cerelle
If you decide that you no longer want to take Cerelle and are not planning on taking any other form of oral contraception, you can stop taking your tablets whenever you choose.
You will no longer be protected against pregnancy and should use a barrier method of contraception such as condoms if you do not want to get pregnant.
If you are coming off Cerelle and switching to another form of contraception, you should discuss how to do this correctly with a doctor, pharmacist or nurse.
Cerelle vs Cerazette
Cerazette is a different brand of the progesterone-only-pill, which also contains the ingredient desogestrel. Both Cerazette and Cerelle work in the same way to stop ovulation and pregnancy.
Cerazette was the first progesterone-only pill that was made only containing desogestrel. The patent on Cerazette has since lapsed, and now many pharmaceutical companies make oral contraceptives using generic desogestrel 75mcg, including Feanolla and Zelleta.
Contraception and contraceptive pill options
There are many different types of contraception available, including both oral birth control and other methods.
Some alternative methods of contraception are:
- The combined pill
- Progesterone-only pills (POPs or mini-pills)
- The implant
- Barrier contraceptives such as condoms
- Intrauterine devices (IUD)/ the copper coil
- Intrauterine system (IUS)/ a hormonal coil
- Vaginal rings
- Emergency contraception (not for regular use)
Not all contraceptive methods are suitable for everyone. You can find out more about the benefits and potential negatives of each contraceptive option on the NHS website, or speak to your doctor or a sexual health clinic for more information.
The progestogen-only pill (mini pill)
Each Cerelle tablet contains the active substance: desogestrel (in a 75 microgram dose).
If you can’t get hold of Cerelle for any reason, you can use one of the above alternatives in the same way.
There are other progestogen-only pills that use different synthetic hormones to desogestrel as a progesterone replacement. If you experience side effects from desogestrel-based POPs, your doctor may suggest switching to one of these.
The combined pill
The combined pill — which is commonly known as “the pill” — contains two different hormones, oestrogen and progesterone.
You can read more about different types of contraceptive pills on our dedicated contraceptive pill page.
Before starting to use Cerelle, ensure that you have read and understood how to take this medication. All of this information is detailed in the Patient Information Leaflet that comes with the medication.
Cerelle is for oral use only, to prevent pregnancy. It can be prescribed online by our medical team at The Independent Pharmacy for women over the age of 18 years who have had it previously prescribed by their GP.
Here is how to take Cerelle:
- Take 1 Cerelle tablet every day at the same time with a glass of water until the packet is empty
- Start each new packet on the top row and take the tablet that correlates with the right day of the week printed on the pack over each tablet and follow the arrows
- When you have finished a pack, start a new pack, in the same way, on the following day
- Do not have a break between packs
Each Cerelle pack contains 28 pills.
How do you start taking Cerelle?
Starting to take Cerelle is an easy process. There are just a few things you need to remember, depending on your current situation and use of contraception.
If you are not currently using or have not used any hormonal contraception in the past month:
- Wait for your period to start and take your first Cerelle tablet on day 1 of your period.
- You will not need to use any barrier contraceptives such as condoms to prevent pregnancy.
- If you start taking Cerelle anytime after day 1 of your period you will need to use a barrier method of contraception for 7 days.
If you are switching from a combined pill, vaginal ring or transdermal patch:
- Take your first Cerelle tablet, on the first day after your tablet, ring or patch-free break of your previous contraceptive, and use additional barrier contraception like condoms for 7 days.
- Do not have a tablet, ring or patch-free break and start taking Cerelle the day after you take your last tablet from your present pack, or on the day of removal of your vaginal ring or patch. You will not need to use additional barrier contraception.
If you are changing from any other progestogen-only-pill:
- You can switch on any day and you will not need to use additional barrier contraception.
If you are changing from an injection or implant or hormonal IUS such as the coil:
- Take your first Cerelle tablet the day your next injection is due or on the day that your implant or your IUS is removed. You will not need to use additional barrier contraception.
If you are using Cerelle after having a baby:
- Start taking Cerelle between day 21 and 28 after your baby is born. You will not need to use additional barrier contraception.
- If you start taking Cerelle after day 28 you will need to use a barrier contraceptive such as a condom, during the first 7 days.
If you aren’t sure about which is the right option for you, speak to a healthcare provider to confirm.
What if I have missed a Cerelle pill?
If you are over 12 hours late taking Cerelle, or you vomit or have diarrhoea within 3-4 hours, this counts as a “missed pill”. You should:
- Take the “missed pill” as soon as you remember or as soon as you feel well enough and then continue to take your next pill at the usual time the next day. You may need to take 2 on the same day.
- Use a barrier method of contraception such as a condom for 7 days to protect from pregnancy.
- If you are more than 12 hours late taking your pill and have had sex, you can use emergency contraception to protect you from pregnancy.
If you are less than 12 hours late taking your Cerelle tablet, you should:
- Take the late pill as soon as you remember and take the next tablet at the usual time.
- You will still be protected from pregnancy.
If you are unsure about whether you are covered by your Cerelle pill or not, speak to your doctor or pharmacist for further advice.
If you want to stop taking Cerelle
You can stop taking Cerelle or any other contraceptive pill whenever you want.
From the day you stop taking the pill, you are no longer protected against pregnancy.
If you have any further questions on stopping using Cerelle or moving to another form of contraception, speak to your doctor or pharmacist.
Below is a list of ingredients (both active and inactive) that Cerelle contains.
Each Cerelle tablet contains the active substance: desogestrel (in a 75 micrograms dose).
Each Cerelle tablet contains the inactive ingredients:
- Lactose monohydrate
- Povidone K-30
- Silica, colloidal anhydrous
- Stearic acid
- Poly[vinyl alcohol]
- Titanium dioxide (E171)
- Macrogol 3000
You shouldn’t use Cerelle if you are allergic to desogestrel or any of the other ingredients that this contraceptive pill contains.
Lots of progestogen-only pills (mini-pills) use this same active ingredient in the same dosage. This includes generic Desogestrel, Cerezette, and Feanolla. This means that if the pill you normally use isn’t available for whatever reason, you can use another progestogen-only pill that works in the same way.
For a full list of ingredients included in Cerelle tablets, please read the Cerelle Patient Information Leaflet.
It is important to read all packaging, instructions, and the Patient Information Leaflet included with any new medication before you start using it.
Cerelle side effects
Before taking Cerelle tablets, you should take time to familiarise yourself with all side effects detailed in the Patient Information Leaflet.
Like any other medication, Cerelle may cause some people to experience side effects. These normally improve after the first few months of taking a progesterone-only pill.
The most common side effects linked to taking Cerelle are:
- Irregular periods, spotting or no periods
- Changes to your mood
- Decreased sexual desire (libido)
- Feeling sick
- Acne and spots
- Breast pain and tenderness
- Weight gain
These more common Cerelle side effects may affect up to 1 in 10 people. You can find the full list of side effects (along with an explanation of how common or rare they are) in the Patient Information Leaflet.
If you experience severe side effects or an allergic reaction while taking Cerelle you should get immediate medical advice from a doctor or your nearest emergency department.
If you are concerned about any side effects or you find they do not improve after the first few months (or after you stop taking Cerelle) you should speak to a doctor, pharmacist or nurse for advice.
Please read the Patient Information Leaflet for full details on the warnings and precautions associated with Cerelle tablets.
It’s worth noting that:
- Cerelle, like any other hormonal contraceptive, does not protect against any sexually transmitted infections (STI). Cerelle is only used for preventing pregnancy. For protection against STIs, you also need to use a barrier contraceptive such as a condom. Unprotected sex (without a barrier contraceptive) puts you at risk of contracting STIs.
- Speak to a doctor before taking Cerelle if you have liver disease, diabetes or high blood pressure.
- Like other contraceptive pills, Cerelle can increase your risk of developing breast cancer. You should regularly check your breasts for abnormalities and see a doctor if you are worried.
- Cerelle, like other hormonal contraceptives, very rarely, increases your chances of forming a blood clot. If you think you are experiencing symptoms of a blood clot you should see your doctor as soon as possible.
- If you are currently or have recently been taking any other prescribed or non-prescribed medication, speak to a doctor or pharmacist for advice before taking Cerelle, to ensure there is no risk of interaction between the drugs (some medicines can stop Cerelle from working as effectively).
If you are unsure about any of the above or whether Cerelle is suitable for you, speak to your doctor — they will be able to advise you.
Cerelle and breast cancer
There is a very small but increased risk of developing breast cancer if you take Cerelle or any other birth control pill.
This risk is thought to be very small, and there isn’t currently enough evidence to definitively say that there is a link between the use of the progestogen-only pill and breast cancer.
If there is an increased risk, it's likely to be very small and will disappear in time when you stop taking Cerelle.
Regularly checking your breasts for any changes or irregularities is important, whether you take any oral contraceptives or not. If something doesn’t seem right, speak to your doctor.
Cerelle in pregnancy
You should not take Cerelle, or any other hormonal contraceptive if you are pregnant, think you may be pregnant or are trying to get pregnant.
Please speak to a doctor if you think you have taken Cerelle during your pregnancy.
Cerelle & breastfeeding
Cerelle may be used while breastfeeding. You can take Cerelle while you are breastfeeding, as Cerelle does not affect breast milk quality or production.
A very small amount (trace amounts) of desogestrel (the active ingredient in Cerelle) does pass into breast milk when Cerelle is taken. However, in recent studies, no effects on the growth and development of children were observed.
If you are breastfeeding and would like to start taking Cerelle, speak to a doctor, your midwife or a health visitor for advice.