What is Cerelle?
Cerelle is a contraceptive pill used to prevent pregnancy that only contains progestogen. This type of pill is known as the “mini-pill” and is suitable for women who are breastfeeding and those who don’t tolerate oestrogen.
How does Cerelle work?
Cerelle works by preventing the sperm cells from entering the womb, as well as preventing the egg cell from ripening (in most cases). Containing a small amount of the female sex hormone, the progestogen desogestrel, it protects women against pregnancy.
What are the benefits of taking Cerelle?
Using Cerelle provides women with protection against unwanted pregnancies, allowing them more freedom with both their daily lives and sex lives. Because of the hormone it contains, Cerelle can also help to regulate a woman’s menstrual cycle, or stop symptoms altogether for those who suffer badly.
When it comes to contraceptive pills, there are two different types; the combined pill and the progestogen-only pill (also known as POP). Cerelle fits into the latter category and its lack of the hormone, oestrogen, makes it a great choice for women who do not tolerate it, or for those who are breastfeeding.
The dose of Cerelle not only prevents the sperm cells from entering the womb (as most POP pills do), but as it also mostly prevents the egg cell from ripening, it serves as a highly effective form of contraception.
How do I use Cerelle?
Cerelle is a prescription-only medication. Always follow the advice of your doctor and read the patient information leaflet provided in the medication packet. Take the tablets orally by swallowing whole with some water.
If you are not using hormonal contraception at present (or in the past month), then you should wait for your period to begin and take the first tablet on the first day. If you are currently on another contraceptive pill, then take the first Cerelle tablet on the day after you take the last tablet from the present pack. If you do not start taking Cerelle on these timelines and end up with some pill-free days, then ensure that you use additional contraceptive methods (barrier ones, like condoms) to continue protecting against pregnancy.
For women who have just had a baby and wish to go back on to Cerelle, you can start taking the tablets as per the guidelines between 21 and 28 days after the birth of your baby. If you are breastfeeding or have had an abortion or miscarriage, your doctor can advise you about using Cerelle.
The packets are clearly marked with days of the week and arrows to guide users on the direction of use. You select your first pill based on the day of the week that you begin (for example, if you start on a Wednesday then take the tablet on the first row marked ‘Wed’). Follow the direction of the arrows, taking one tablet a day until you finish the pack and then start the next pack without any break.
Cerelle tablets come as 75 microgram film-coated tablets containing desogestrel, and those using it should take one per day at approximately the same time. The pack contains 28 tablets, or a 4 week supply.
If you miss a pill but realise within 12 hours then simply take the pill as soon as you remember, and then take the next one at your normal time. You will still be protected against pregnancy within this time frame. If you are more than 12 hours late with a missed pill then you should still take it as soon as you remember and take the next one at the normal time (this may mean taking two pills in one day, which is fine). However, you may no longer be protected against pregnancy and should use additional methods of contraception for the next 7 days.
If you vomit within 3 to 4 hours after taking your Cerelle tablet or have severe diarrhoea, then the active ingredient may not have been completely absorbed. Follow the same advice for forgotten tablets as above and use additional contraception as required.
Side effects & precautions
Before taking Cerelle, you should always first consult your doctor. You should not take Cerelle if any of the following apply to you:
- if you are allergic to desogestrel, or any of the other ingredients of Cerelle
- if you have a thrombosis (formation of a blood clot in a blood vessel)
- if you have or have had jaundice (yellowing of the skin) or severe liver disease
- if you have or if you are suspected of having a cancer that grows under the influence of sex-steroids, such as certain types of breast cancer.
- if you have any unexplained vaginal bleeding.
- if you are pregnant
Your prescription of Cerelle may also be affected by a number of other factors, so you should make your doctor aware if any of the following apply:
- you have ever had breast cancer
- you have liver cancer
- you have ever had a thrombosis
- you have diabetes
- you suffer from epilepsy
- you have tuberculosis
- you have high blood pressure
- you have or have had chloasma (yellowish-brown pigmentation patches on the skin, particularly of the face)
Like many medications with active ingredients, Cerelle can affect or be affected by other medicines. Some medicines can have an influence on the blood levels of Cerelle, can make it less effective in preventing pregnancy and can cause unexpected bleeding. Particular medications that you may experience this with are ones used to treat:
- HIV infections
- Hepatitis C virus infection
- high blood pressure in the blood vessels of the lungs
- depressive moods
- certain bacterial infections
- fungal infections
- high blood pressure
If you are taking medication to treat any of the above conditions, then you should make your doctor aware so that they can advise whether or not Cerelle will be the best course of action for you.
Breast cancer has been found slightly more often in women who take the Pill than in women of the same age who do not take the Pill. If women stop taking the Pill, this reduces the risk, so that 10 years after stopping the Pill, the risk is the same as for women who have never taken it. Evidence is less conclusive for pills like Cerelle (POP ones) but it’s believed to be the same as the combined pill. Either way, you should check your breasts regularly and notify your doctor if you notice any lumps or changes.
Deep venous thrombosis is a rare occurrence. It can develop whether or not you are taking the Pill, however, the risk is higher for those who are taking it. The risk with Cerelle is believed to be lower than combined pills but you should notify your doctor immediately if you notice any signs of development.
The most common side effect of using Cerelle is vaginal bleeding at irregular intervals. This may be just slight staining but it could range up to heavier bleeding, which may require tampons or sanitary towels. Irregular bleeding is not a sign that the drug is not working and you can continue to take it. However, if the bleeding is very heavy or prolonged then you should consult your doctor.
Other common side effects of Cerelle include:
- mood changes,
- depressed mood,
- decreased sexual drive (libido),
- breast pain,
- irregular or no periods,
- weight increase.
If you do experience one or more of these side effects and they persist or worsen, then inform your doctor right away. You should also contact your doctor immediately if you experience any serious side effects, such as difficulty breathing, difficulty swallowing or skin conditions like hives.