Cerelle is an oestrogen-free, progestogen-only oral contraceptive pill (POP) used to prevent pregnancy.
There are 2 main kinds of hormone contraceptive:
- The combined pill, "The Pill", which contains 2 types of female sex hormone, an oestrogen and a progestogen.
- The progestogen-only pill, POP or mini-pill, which doesn't contain an oestrogen.
Cerelle contains a small amount of the female progesterone sex hormone, desogestrel. Most POPs or mini-pills work primarily by preventing the sperm cells from entering the womb but they do not always prevent the egg cell from ripening, which is the main way that combined pills work.
Cerelle is different from other mini-pills in having a dose that in most cases prevents the egg cell from ripening. It works by preventing the release of eggs from the ovary and by increasing the thickness of vaginal fluid, which can stop a sperm from reaching an egg. As a result, Cerelle is a highly effective contraceptive.
In contrast to the combined pill, Cerelle can be used by women who do not tolerate oestrogens and by women who are breast feeding. A disadvantage is that vaginal bleeding may occur at irregular intervals during the use of Cerelle. On the other hand there may not be any bleeding at all.
Hormonal contraceptives will only prevent a pregnancy if they are taken regularly. It is important you take this medicine at the same time each day.
When you first start to take Cerelle you may need to take extra contraceptive precautions until it starts to work. You may also need to take extra contraceptive precautions in certain situations. These situations include missing a dose by more than 12 hours or vomiting within three to four hours of taking Cerelle.
For further important information about how to take Cerelle see notes at the end of this section.
Ask your prescriber, family planning nurse or read the patient information leaflet that comes with your medicine for more information about when to take additional contraceptive precautions.
- Take your tablet each day at about the same time. Swallow the tablet whole, with water.
- Arrows are printed on the front of the strip, between the tablets. The days of the week are printed on the back of the strip. Each day corresponds with one tablet.
- Every time you start a new strip of Cerelle, take a tablet from the top row. Don’t start with just any tablet. For example if you start on a Wednesday, you must take the tablet from the top row marked (on the back) with WED.
Further important information:
Ideally, you should start taking this pill on day one of your menstrual cycle (the first day of your period). This will protect you from pregnancy immediately and you won't need to use any additional methods of contraception.
If necessary, you can also start taking it up to day five of your cycle without needing to use additional contraception when you start.
However, if you have a short menstrual cycle (with your period coming every 23 days or less), starting as late as the fifth day of your cycle may not provide you with immediate contraceptive protection. You should talk to your doctor or nurse about this and whether you need to use an additional contraceptive method for the first two days.
You can also start taking this pill at any other time in your cycle if your doctor is reasonably sure that you are not pregnant. If you start taking this pill at any other time in your cycle, you will need to use additional contraception, e.g. condoms for the first two days of pill taking.
If you are starting this pill after having a baby you should start taking it on day 21 after giving birth. You will then be protected against pregnancy immediately and do not need to use extra contraception. (You can start taking it before day 21, but this increases the risk of breakthrough bleeding and is unnecessary.) If you start taking it later than 21 days after giving birth, you should use extra contraception for the first two days of pill taking.
If you are starting this pill immediately after a miscarriage or abortion at under 24 weeks, you will be protected against pregnancy immediately. If you start taking it more than five days after the miscarriage or abortion, you should use extra contraception for the first two days of pill taking.
Medicines and their possible side effects can affect individual people in different ways. Just because a side effect is stated here, it does not mean that all people using this medicine will experience that or any side effect. The following are some of the side effects that are known to be associated with Cerelle:
Common (affect between 1 and 10 out of every 100 women)
- Changes in menstrual bleeding, eg irregular bleeding or sometimes stopping of bleeding.
- Mood changes, including depression.
- Decreased sex drive.
- Breast tenderness.
- Weight gain.
Uncommon (affect between 1 and 10 out of every 1000 women)
- Vaginal infection.
- Hair loss.
- Cysts on the ovaries.
- Painful periods.
Rare (affect between 1 and 10 out of every 10,000 women)
- Rash or hives.
- Ectopic pregnancy - see warning section above.
The side effects listed above may not include all of the side effects reported by the medicine's manufacturer. For more information about any other possible risks associated with Cerelle, please read the information provided with the medicine or consult your doctor or pharmacist.
Cerelle should be used with caution in:
- Women who are going to have major surgery with prolonged immobilisation.
- Women with a blood clot in a vein, e.g. in the legs (deep vein thrombosis) or the lungs (pulmonary embolism), or a history of this.
- Women with disorders that increase the risk of blood clots in the veins, e.g. antiphospholipid syndrome, antithrombin deficiency or factor V Leiden.
- Women with a history of serious disease of the arteries, e.g. that has caused a stroke, angina or heart attack.
- Women with multiple risk factors for heart disease, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking, high cholesterol levels, obesity.
- Women with a long-term condition called systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
- Women with an undiagnosed breast lump or gene mutations that are associated with breast cancer, e.g. BRCA1.
- Women with active liver disease, e.g. liver cancer, severe liver cirrhosis.
- Women with a history of liver disease when liver function has not returned to normal.
- Gallbladder disease.
- Women with a history of jaundice or itching caused by previous use of an oral contraceptive.
- Women with inflammatory bowel disease, e.g. Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis.
- Women with a history of migraines.
- Women with a history of irregular brown patches appearing on the skin, usually of the face, during pregnancy or previous use of a contraceptive pill (chloasma). Women with a tendency to this condition should minimise their exposure to the sun or UV light while taking this contraceptive.
Cerelle should NOT be used in:
- Women with abnormal vaginal bleeding, the cause of which has not yet been diagnosed.
- Women with breast cancer or a history of breast cancer (although the mini pill can be used if you have been free of cancer for five years and you don’t want to use non-hormonal methods of contraception).
- Hereditary blood disorders called acute porphyrias.
- Cerelle tablets contain lactose and should not be taken by women with rare hereditary problems of galactose intolerance, the Lapp lactase deficiency, or glucose-galactose malabsorption.
This medicine should not be used if you are allergic to one or any of its ingredients. Please inform your doctor or pharmacist if you have previously experienced such an allergy. If you feel you have experienced an allergic reaction, stop using Cerelle and inform your doctor or pharmacist immediately.
The patient information leaflet (PIL) is a leaflet containing specific information about medical conditions, doses and side effects. You can download a copy of the PIL here:
Patient Info Leaflet