Triadene tablets are a type of hormonal contraception commonly known as 'the pill' or combined oral contraceptive pill. Triadene tablets contain two active ingredients, ethinylestradiol and gestodene. These are synthetic versions of the naturally occurring female sex hormones, oestrogen and progesterone. Ethinylestradiol is a synthetic version of oestrogen and gestodene is a 'third generation' synthetic form of progesterone.
Combined oral contraceptives like Triadene 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 your 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.
Triadene is a triphasic pill. Each 21 day pack contains three types of tablets, each with a slightly different dose of hormones in it. The six beige tablets contain 30 micrograms ethinylestradiol and 50 micrograms gestodene, the five dark brown tablets contain 40 micrograms ethinylestradiol and 70 micrograms gestodene, and the ten white tablets contain 30 micrograms ethinylestradiol and 100 micrograms gestodene.
Triadene tablets must be taken in the order specified on the pack, starting with the beige tablet marked 'start'. One tablet is taken every day for 21 days and you then have a seven day break from pill-taking. During your seven day break, 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 after the seven pill-free days are up, even if you are still bleeding.
You will still be protected against pregnancy in your pill-free week, 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 (eg 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. The following are some of the side effects that are known to be associated with this medicine.
- 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 (eg, DVT, pulmonary embolism, heart attack, stroke - see warnings above).
Triadene should not be used by
- Women who are breastfeeding (the combined pill shouldn't be taken until weaning or for six months after birth - see below for more information).
- Women who have ever had a blood clot in a vein (venous thromboembolism), eg in the leg (deep vein thrombosis) or in the lungs (pulmonary embolism).
- Women with a parent, brother or sister who has had a blood clot in a vein (venous thromboembolism), eg in the leg (deep vein thrombosis) or in the lungs (pulmonary embolism) before the age of 45.
- Women with blood disorders that increase the risk of blood clots in the veins, eg 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, eg 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 over 35 years of age who smoke more than 15 cigarettes per day.
- Women with severe diabetes, eg with complications affecting the eyes, kidneys or nerves.
- Women with two or more other risk factors for getting a blood clot in an artery, eg 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, eg 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 (eg 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.
- Triadene tablets contain lactose and sucrose and are not suitable for women with rare hereditary problems of galactose intolerance, the Lapp lactase deficiency, fructose intolerance, glucose-galactose malabsorption or sucrase-isomaltase insufficiency.
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