Cerelle is a progestogen-only, oral contraceptive pill. Because it doesn't contain oestrogen, it can be a good choice if you're over 35 years old and a smoker or you have high blood pressure. The active ingredient is desogestrel, which is a man-made progesterone. Each tablet of Cerelle contains 75 micrograms of desogestrel.
Cerelle is a different branded version of the mini pills Cerazette, Hana and Lovima. All these medications contain the same dose of desogestrel.
Cerelle is available in 2 pack sizes:
- 3 month supply (84 tablets)
- 6 month supply (168 tablets)
Cerelle is made by Gedeon Richter Plc.
6 x 28 tablet(s) - £20.99
3 × 28 tablet(s) - £14.99
About Cerelle pill
Cerelle is a contraceptive pill, taken by people to prevent unwanted pregnancies. It is a progestogen-only pill (POP), or mini pill. Mini pills contain progesterone only. This is different to some other contraceptive pills, known as combined pills. Combined pills contain both oestrogen and progestogen.
Cerelle contains the progestogen desogestrel.
Unlike combined pills, Cerelle can be taken by people who can’t safely take pills containing oestrogen. You can also take Cerelle if you are breastfeeding if you’ve given birth in the last 6 weeks.
Cerelle works in a few ways to prevent pregnancy:
- It stops a fertilised egg from growing inside the womb
- It prevents sperm from reaching the womb, this happens because when you take Cerelle, the mucus at the entrance to your womb (the cervix) thickens
- It stops most eggs from being released in the first place
Cerelle does not protect you from sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Cerelle is 99% effective at preventing pregnancy when taken within the same 12-hour window every day.
You will need to make sure that you take a Cerelle pill every day, ideally at around the same time each day. If you forget to take a pill, make sure you follow the instructions on what to do after missing a pill.
Research shows that only 0.4% of people taking desogestrel (Cerelle) correctly for a year will get pregnant. This is lower than other mini pills containing levonorgestrel where 1.6% of people got pregnant.
If you have regular periods and start Cerelle on days 1 to 5 of your period, the Cerelle contraceptive pill will work straight away, and you’ll be immediately protected against pregnancy.
If you start on any other day of your cycle, then you’ll be protected after the first 2 days. You must use extra contraception (like condoms) during this time.
You can buy Cerelle online in the UK from online doctor services like ZAVA. Simply complete a 2-minute questionnaire about your health and request your order. If Cerelle is right for you, one of our doctors will approve your order and it will be delivered to your door. If not, you’ll be refunded and our doctors will suggest alternatives.
Order from ZAVA and you’ll get:
- an easy online assessment and free delivery
- a convenient service with no face-to-face appointments
- comprehensive follow-up care through your patient account
Can you buy Cerelle over-the-counter?
You can’t buy Cerelle-over-the counter in UK pharmacies. But, you can buy other mini pills with the same active ingredient. Hana and Lovima both contain 75 micrograms of desogestrel, like Cerelle. They are both available over-the-counter in the UK.
You need to take 1 Cerelle contraceptive pill every day to prevent pregnancy:
- try and take your pill at around the same time each day
- think about a time of day that is convenient and easy to remember
- swallow the Cerelle pill whole with water
Each strip of Cerelle is printed with arrows and days of the week on the strip to help you keep track:
- each time you start a new strip, take a pill from the top row marked with the appropriate day
- follow the arrows – this will make it easier to check if you have taken your pill on any given day
- when you have finished a strip, start a new one next day - you shouldn’t wait for a period
When should I start taking Cerelle?
If you have not taken any other hormonal contraceptive in the past month: Take your first Cerelle pill during the first 5 days of your period and you will be protected right away. If you do not start taking Cerelle until after day 5, you will need to use an additional method of contraception (such as condoms) for the first 2 days to prevent pregnancy.
Cerelle missed pill: What should I do if I miss a pill?
If you forget to take a Cerelle pill, take it as soon as you remember. Take the next pill at the normal time. This may mean taking 2 pills in 1 day.
If you are less than 12 hours late taking the missed Cerelle pill, you will not need to use additional contraception to prevent pregnancy
If you are more than 12 hours late taking the missed pill:
- you will need to use an additional method of contraception for the next 2 days to prevent pregnancy
- and if you have had unprotected sex in the past 2 days, you should use emergency contraception.
What should I do if I vomit after taking the pill?
If you have vomiting or diarrhoea within 3 to 4 hours of taking a Cerelle pill, you may not be protected against pregnancy. You will need to use extra protection for 2 days and use emergency contraception if you had unprotected sex in the last 2 days.
What should I do if I want to stop taking the Cerelle pill?
You can stop taking Cerelle at any time. If you stop taking Cerelle, you will no longer be protected from getting pregnant. You won’t get withdrawal symptoms from stopping Cerelle, but side effects may include your period getting heavier and premenstrual syndrome symptoms coming back.
Before you stop Cerelle you should choose another form of contraception unless you’re planning to get pregnant. Talk to a doctor and they can discuss your options with you.
Can I switch my contraceptive pill?
If you would like to switch to another type or brand of contraceptive pill, your GP, sexual health clinic or pharmacist can advise you on a suitable alternative and how to switch to a different pill safely. You can also get free advice from our doctors through your patient account.
There are many different contraceptive pill brands, and some may be more suitable for you and cause fewer or less bothersome side effects than others. Many women try a few different brands before deciding which pill works best for them.
Yes, Cerelle can also stop your periods. You can still get some bleeding during Cerelle treatment. Not everyone gets this and it’s usually not as heavy as period bleeding.
Some people get side effects with Cerelle. These are usually mild, they can go away after a while and not everyone has them.
Common side effects of Cerelle include:
- change in mood
- decrease in libido (sex drive)
- breast pain
- irregular periods or no periods
- increase in body weight
Uncommon side effects of Cerelle include:
- vaginal infection
- difficulty wearing contact lenses
- hair loss
- painful periods
- ovarian cyst
If you experience any side effects whilst taking Cerelle or are concerned about any side effects, you should speak with your doctor. You can also report any side effects through the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) Yellow Card scheme.
You may have vaginal bleeding at irregular intervals when you take Cerelle. It may be very light, or it can be heavier, like a period. You may have no bleeding at all. If you have irregular bleeding it does not mean that Cerelle is not working. If you have heavy or prolonged bleeding, you should speak to your doctor.
Each Cerelle pill contains 75 micrograms (mcg) of the active ingredient desogestrel.
In addition, the inside of each tablet (tablet core) contains:
- lactose monohydrate
- potato starch
- povidone K-30
- colloidal anhydrous
- stearic acid
The outer coating of each tablet contains:
- poly[vinyl alcohol]
- titanium dioxide (E171)
- macrogol 3000
Cerelle isn’t safe for everyone to take. A doctor or nurse needs to approve treatment for you. You should not take Cerelle if you have:
- an allergy to desogestrel or any of the other ingredients
- thrombosis (blood clot)
- unexplained vaginal bleeding
- jaundice or liver disease in the past and your liver function has not returned to normal
- a type of cancer that may be affected by hormones such as progestogens (including some types of breast cancer)
If any of these conditions appear whilst you are taking Cerelle, you should speak to your doctor straight away.
You should also speak to your doctor before taking Cerelle if you:
- have diabetes, cancer of the liver, tuberculosis, high blood pressure, epilepsy, or depression or mood changes
- have or have ever had breast cancer, thrombosis, or chloasma (yellow brown patches on the skin, especially on the face)
Remember: The Cerelle mini pill is meant for people who want to avoid getting pregnant. It’s only meant for people who can get pregnant. You should not take Cerelle if you are pregnant or you think you might be.
Can I take Cerelle while pregnant or breastfeeding?
Cerelle shouldn’t harm your unborn baby if you get pregnant while taking it but it is not meant to be taken during pregnancy.
Cerelle doesn’t significantly affect the production of breastmilk and there’s no evidence to suggest that taking it while you’re breastfeeding can harm your baby. Unlike the combined pill, Cerelle can be taken during the first 6 weeks after you give birth.
Before starting Cerelle, you should tell your doctor about any other medications you are taking, or have taken in the previous 3 months.
When taken at the same time, some medications may make Cerelle less effective or lead to unexpected bleeding and other side effects. This includes medications used to treat:
- epilepsy, for example primidone, phenytoin, carbamazepine, oxcarbazepine, felbamate, topiramate and phenobarbital
- tuberculosis, for example rifampicin and rifabutin
- HIV infections, for example ritonavir, nelfinavir, nevirapine and efavirenz
- Hepatitis C and some other infectious diseases, for example boceprevir and telaprevir
- high blood pressure in the blood vessels of the lungs (for example bosentan), angina and some heart rhythm disorders (for example diltiazem)
- some bacterial infections (for example clarithromycin and erythromycin) and fungal infections (for example ketoconazole, itraconazole and fluconazole)
- depressive mood, for example the herbal remedy St. John’s Wort
If you are taking other medications or herbal products, you may need to use an additional method of contraception. Your doctor or pharmacist will be able to advise you on this.
Does Cerelle affect other medications?
Cerelle may affect other medications. For example, Cerelle may increase the effect of medicines containing ciclosporin, and decrease the effect of lamotrigine. You should let your doctor know if you’re already taking Cerelle when they prescribe you other treatments so they can let you know what you need to do.
There are a range of alternative types of contraception you could consider instead of Cerelle, including:
- other progesterone-only pills
- combined pills
- non-pill contraceptive methods
Other progesterone-only pills
There are other mini pills to choose from besides Cerelle. There are a few other mini pills available in the UK with the same active ingredient as Cerelle, including:
These all work the same way as Cerelle.
There are also a few other mini pills available that have different active ingredients, including:
These work in a similar but slightly different way to Cerelle. In particular, they only have a 3-hour window where you can remember to take them each day instead of 12 hours, like with Cerelle.
Instead of mini pills, you can also consider combined contraceptive pills. Unlike mini pills which only have progesterone in, combined pills have progesterone and oestrogen.
The extra oestrogen in combined pills doesn’t make them more effective than mini pills but it does come with some extra benefits, as well as an increased risk of some side effects.
The benefits of the oestrogen in combined pills include improvements to acne and period-related conditions like premenstrual syndrome. Side effects that are more likely on combined pills include nausea, headaches and water retention.
Non-pill contraceptive methods
As well as combined and mini pills, there’s a range of other types of contraception available, including:
- Evra contraceptive patches
- contraceptive injections
- contraceptive implants
- the intrauterine device and the intrauterine system
- male and female condoms
Some of these methods are more effective than others and some can even be used together for extra protection. It’s a particularly good idea to use condoms alongside other forms of contraception to avoid STIs.
Patient reviews of the Cerelle mini pill on the contraceptive review forum thelowdown.com show that it’s rated 2.8 out of 5 stars.
Everyone’s experience with contraceptive pills is different. The best way to see how you get on with a pill is to try it out. They’re easy to stop and start and most side effects are mild. A ZAVA doctor can help you try out Cerelle or suggest alternatives.
Frequently asked questions
Is Cerelle a combined pill?
No, Cerelle is not a combined pill. Cerelle only contains progesterone and combined pills contain progesterone and oestrogen together. This means Cerelle has less chance of oestrogen-related side effects but more chance of progesterone-only side effects. Oestrogen can increase the chance of improvements to acne and periods, so the chance of these improvements is lower with Cerelle.
Is Cerelle the same as Cerazette?
Cerelle and Cerazette both contain the same active ingredient – 75 micrograms of desogestrel. The other ingredients in Cerelle and Cerazette are different. This includes the core of the pill tablet and the coating.
Cerazette is the original branded version of desogestrel. Because Cerelle and Cerazette contain the same active ingredient, they have the same effectiveness. Cerelle is usually cheaper than Cerazette.
Is Zelleta the same as Cerelle?
Cerelle and Zelleta contain the same active ingredient as well – desogestrel 75 mcg. They are effectively different brands of the same medication and work in the same way. The other ingredients that make up the core and outer coating of the pill vary slightly.
Can you get Cerelle on the NHS?
Yes, you can get Cerelle on the NHS from your GP, family planning, sexual health or genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinic.
What about Cerelle and acne?
A combined pill would be better. Cerelle only contains progesterone which can make acne worse on its own. Combined pills have oestrogen in which can improve acne for some people and makes acne less likely as a side effect.
Does Cerelle cause weight gain?
Increased body weight is listed as a side-effect of Cerelle, but Cerelle doesn’t directly cause you to put on weight. It can, however, affect your appetite and cause you to eat more or less than usual. It can also cause your body to retain fluid resulting in ‘water weight’. You can avoid weight gain while taking Cerelle by being aware of your eating habits, sticking to a healthy eating plan and taking regular exercise.
Can Cerelle cause anxiety?
Depression and mood changes are known side effects of Cerelle but reports from some women and healthcare providers suggest a possible link between desogestrel (the active ingredient in Cerelle) and anxiety and panic attacks. If you experience changes to your mood including low mood, lack of interest in sex, anxiety, or panic attacks while taking Cerelle, talk to your healthcare provider about switching to a different pill.
Do you get breakthrough bleeding on Cerelle?
Irregular bleeding, bleeding between periods and spotting are common side-effects of progestogen-only pills including Cerelle. This normally settles down within a few months. If you are still experiencing bleeding between periods after 3 months of using Cerelle, make an appointment with your GP.
Can Cerelle cause hair loss?
Hair loss and thinning hair are known side-effects of hormonal birth control, including Cerelle. You are more likely to experience hair loss if you are especially sensitive to the hormones in the pill or have a personal or family history of hormone-related hair loss (such as during pregnancy). Hair loss due to the pill usually settles down within a few months, but if you are still losing hair or your hair is not growing back after around 3 months, speak to your GP. Your GP may prescribe medication for hair loss or suggest another form of birth-control.
Can Cerelle cause migraines?
Headaches, including migraines are a common side-effect of both the combined and progestogen-only contraceptive pill. Migraines are more common in women than men, especially around the time of your period and may be triggered by fluctuations in hormone levels. If you experience migraines while taking Cerelle talk to your GP.
Does Cerelle give you a low libido?
While most women do not experience low libido (sex drive) while taking Cerelle, it is a listed side effect. Low libido can be caused by many factors such as stress, tiredness, poor physical health, and relationship problems.
If you experience low libido while taking Cerelle, talk to your GP or healthcare provider. Your healthcare provider will try to determine if there is another cause for your low libido, and if it appears to be due to Cerelle, may suggest a non-hormonal form of birth control.
Does Cerelle increase your risk of blood clots (thrombosis)?
The combined-contraceptive pill slightly increases your risk of developing blood clots, but this risk is much lower with progestogen-only pills including Cerelle.
Seek immediate medical attention if you have signs of a blood clot including:
- redness, swelling, pain and heat in your lower leg
- difficulty breathing
- fast heartbeat
- chest pain
- fainting or dizziness
Can I take Cerelle when I'm breastfeeding?
Cerelle is safe to take when you are breastfeeding. Cerelle doesn’t affect the amount or quality of your milk, and there’s no evidence to suggest that taking it while you’re breastfeeding can harm your baby.
Can Cerelle contraceptive pills make you infertile?
The contraceptive pill only works for as long as you are taking it and does not have any long-term effects on your fertility. Once you stop taking Cerelle, you are no longer protected against pregnancy and your fertility will return to normal, normally within a few days or weeks.
Dr Babak Ashrafi Clinical Lead for Service Expansion
Babak studied medicine at King’s College London and graduated in 2003, having also gained a bachelor’s degree in Physiology during his time there. He completed his general practice (GP) training in East London, where he worked for a number of years as a partner at a large inner-city GP practice. He completed the Royal College of GPs membership exam in 2007.Meet our doctors
Last reviewed: 17 Aug 2023
Progestogen-only pill (POP, mini pill) | NHS inform [accessed July 2023]
The progestogen-only pill - NHS (www.nhs.uk) [accessed July 2023]
What should I do if I miss a pill (progestogen-only pill)? - NHS (www.nhs.uk) [accessed July 2023]
Cerelle pill reviews - The Lowdown [accessed July 2023]
Contraceptive pills are a reliable way of reducing your risk of getting pregnant from sex. ZAVA offers most common brands of pill, so you can order your preferred brand by visiting our contraceptive pill service page.
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