Microgynon ED tablets are a type of hormonal contraception commonly known as 'the pill' or combined oral contraceptive pill.
There are two types of tablets in each 28-day pack of Microgynon ED. The small beige tablets contain two active ingredients, ethinylestradiol and levonorgestrel. These are synthetic versions of the naturally occurring female sex hormones, oestrogen and progesterone. Ethinylestradiol is a synthetic version of oestrogen and levonorgestrel is a synthetic form of progesterone. The seven large white tablets don't contain any active ingredients.
Combined oral contraceptives like Microgynon work by over-riding the normal menstrual cycle. In a woman's normal menstrual cycle, levels of the sex hormones change throughout each month. The hormones cause an egg to be released from the ovaries (ovulation) and prepare the lining of the womb for a possible pregnancy. At the end of each cycle, if the egg has not been fertilised the levels of the hormones fall, causing the womb lining to be shed as a monthly period.
The daily dose of hormones taken in the pill work mainly by tricking the body into thinking that ovulation has already happened. This prevents an egg from ripening and being released from the ovaries each month.
The hormones also increase the thickness of the natural mucus at the neck of the womb, which makes it more difficult for sperm to cross from the vagina into the womb and reach an egg. They also change the quality of the womb lining (endometrium), making it less likely that a fertilised egg can implant there.
Microgynon 30 ED is an everyday pill, meaning quite simply, that you take one tablet every day.
The tablets come in strips of 28 tablets, with 21 small beige active tablets in three rows and 7 larger white inactive tablets in the last row. The tablets also come with self-adhesive strips, each starting with a different day of the week. These are to show you on which day to take each tablet. Peel off a strip that starts with your starting day, e.g., if you start the tablets on a Wednesday, use a strip that starts with 'Wed'. Stick the strip along the top of the strip of tablets, so that the first day is above the pill marked 'start'. You can now see on which day you have to take each tablet.
For the first 21 days of each 28-day packet, the tablet you take is an active tablet. Each of these contains the same dose of hormones. For the last seven days of each 28-day pack, the tablet you take is inactive (doesn't contain any hormones).
During your seven days of taking the inactive tablets, the levels of the hormones in your blood drop, which results in a withdrawal bleed that is similar to your normal period. You start the next pack straight away without a break between packs, even if you are still bleeding.
The purpose of the last seven inactive tablets is that you get used to taking a pill at the same time every day and just take each packet back to back. This is unlike many other pills, where you have three weeks of taking pills, followed by a week off from pill taking. Microgynon 30 ED might be helpful for you if you find it difficult to remember to start taking your pill again after a pill-free week.
You will still be protected against pregnancy while you are taking the inactive tablets, provided you took all the pills correctly, you start the next packet on time and nothing else happened that could make the pill less effective (e.g. sickness, diarrhoea, or taking certain other medicines).
You should try and take your pill at the same time every day; this will help you remember to take it. Each tablet should be swallowed with a drink. They can be taken either with or without food.
Medicines and their possible side effects can affect individual people in different ways. Just because a side effect is stated here 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 Microgynon ED:
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Abdominal pain.
- Breast tenderness and enlargement.
- Weight changes.
- Retention of water in the body tissues (fluid retention).
- Vaginal thrush (candidiasis).
- Change in menstrual bleeding, usually lighter periods or sometimes stopping of periods.
- Menstrual spotting or breakthrough bleeding.
- Decreased sex drive.
- Rise in blood pressure.
- Skin reactions.
- Irregular brown patches on the skin, usually of the face (chloasma).
- Steepening of corneal curvature, which may make contact lenses uncomfortable.
- Disturbance in liver function.
- Blood clots in the blood vessels (e.g., DVT, pulmonary embolism, heart attack, stroke).
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 Microgynon ED, please read the information provided with the medicine or consult your doctor or pharmacist.
This contraceptive pill will not protect you against sexually transmitted infections, so you may still need to use condoms as well.
Microgynon should be used with caution in:
- Women aged over 35 years.
- Women whose parent, brother or sister had a heart attack or stroke caused by a blood clot before the age of 45.
- Women with a parent, brother or sister who has had a blood clot in a vein (venous thromboembolism), e.g. in the leg (deep vein thrombosis) or in the lungs (pulmonary embolism) before the age of 45.
- Women who are obese.
- Women with diabetes mellitus.
- Women with high blood pressure (hypertension).
- Women with heart failure.
- Women who use a wheelchair.
- Women with a history of inflammation of a vein caused by a superficial blood clot (thrombophlebitis).
- Women with anaemia caused by a hereditary blood disorder where abnormal haemoglobin is produced (sickle cell anaemia).
- Women with a history of severe depression, especially if this was caused by taking the pill in the past.
- Women with a history of migraines.
- Women with inflammatory bowel disease, e.g. Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis.
- Women with a personal or family history of raised levels of fats called triglycerides in the blood (hypertriglyceridaemia).
- Women with raised levels of the hormone prolactin in their blood (hyperprolactinaemia).
- Women with an undiagnosed breast lump or gene mutations that are associated with breast cancer, e.g. BRCA1.
- 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.
Microgynon should NOT be used in:
- Women who are breastfeeding (the combined pill shouldn't be taken until weaning or for six months after birth).
- Women who have ever had a blood clot in a vein (venous thromboembolism), e.g. in the leg (deep vein thrombosis) or in the lungs (pulmonary embolism).
- Women with blood disorders that increase the risk of blood clots in the veins, e.g. antiphospholipid syndrome or factor V Leiden.
- Women having sclerosing treatment for varicose veins.
- Women with two or more other risk factors for getting a blood clot in a vein, e.g. family history of deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism before the age of 45 (parent, brother or sister), obesity, smoking, long-term immobility.
- Women who have ever had a heart attack, stroke or mini-stroke caused by a blood clot in an artery.
- Women with angina, heart valve disease or an irregular heartbeat called atrial fibrillation.
- Women with moderate to severe high blood pressure (hypertension).
- Women who smoke more than 40 cigarettes per day.
- Women over 50 years of age.
- Women with severe diabetes, e.g. with complications affecting the eyes, kidneys or nerves.
- Women with two or more other risk factors for getting a blood clot in an artery, e.g. family history of heart attack or stroke before the age of 45 (parent, brother or sister), diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking, high cholesterol levels, obesity, migraines.
- Women who get migraines with aura, severe migraines regularly lasting over 72 hours despite treatment, or migraines that are treated with ergot derivatives.
- Women with breast cancer or a history of breast cancer (although the 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).
- Women with abnormal vaginal bleeding where the cause is not known.
- Women with a long-term condition called systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
- Women with a history of excess of urea in the blood, causing damaged red blood cells (haemolytic uraemic syndrome).
- Women with active liver disease, e.g. liver cancer, hepatitis.
- Women with a history of liver disease when liver function has not returned to normal.
- Women with disorders of bile excretion that cause jaundice (e.g. Dubin-Johnson or Rotor syndrome).
- Women with gallstones.
- Women with a history of jaundice, severe itching, hearing disorder called otosclerosis, or rash called pemphigoid gestationis during a previous pregnancy, or previous use of sex hormones.
- Hereditary blood disorders known as porphyrias.
- Microgynon ED 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 or sucrase-isomaltase insufficiency.
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 Microgynon ED 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