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Cilest is a combined oral contraceptive. It contains the oestrogen Ethinylestradiol as well as the progesterone Norgestimate and has to be taken daily.
If you are currently taking Cilest, you can use our online doctor service to have your repeat prescription and your next 3 or 6 month course delivered. Please fill in our brief assessment questionnaire to place your order. Our doctor will review whether you can continue taking Cilest.
How often do I need to take Cilest?
In order to work effectively and provide safe contraception, Cilest has to be taken at the same time every day. The only exception is the 7 day pill break in the fourth week of your cycle. You will find 21 tablets in one Cilest blister pack. After three weeks of taking a tablet every day you will have one week without taking any tablets, during which you will experience a period. You are still protected during this week but it is important that you start the next blister pack after 7 days.
Active ingredient of Cilest
Cilest contains two active ingredients, Ethinylestradiol and Norgestimate. With every tablet, you are taking 250 micrograms Norgestimate and 35 micrograms Ethinylestradiol.
Very common side effects
- stomach problems
- irregular bleeding during the first three months
- changes in your period
Cilest is a contraceptive pill for women and prevents pregnancy – like other combined pills, Cilest is a very reliable and safe type of contraceptive, which has to be taken daily in order to work effectively. It is suitable for most women, with the exception of those who breastfeed, women who have had a stroke or thrombosis, or have risk factors for these and those suffering from illnesses affecting the kidneys, liver, or heart. Cilest is a prescription-only contraceptive and it is very important that you discuss prior health problems with a doctor before choosing an oral contraceptive.
Is Cilest suitable for smokers? – smokers over the age of 35 are advised not to use contraceptives which contain oestrogen. This is due to the slight increase in the risk of blood clots, which is associated with the regular intake of oestrogen. If you drink a lot of alcohol, are suffering from hypertension, high cholesterol or any other health condition, you need to discuss your suitability for Cilest with a doctor and make sure you provide all relevant information.
Cilest is may not be suitable for you if:
- You are obese
- Are a heavy smoker or a smoker over the age of 35
- Have a family history of stroke or heart disease
- Are suffering from migraines
- Have high cholesterol or hypertension
- Have heart problems
- You are restricted to lying or sitting for a long period of time (for example due to injury or illness)
- You have diabetes and your condition is not under control
For a complete list of warnings please read your patient leaflet. It is important that you inform your doctor of any previous illnesses or current conditions affecting your health.
In principle, all combined oral contraceptives work in a similar way – just like Cilest, they all prevent ovulation and lead to a thickening of the mucus around the entrance of the womb to prevent sperm from reaching an egg.
Does Cilest differ from other pills? – the main difference between the contraceptive pills currently on the market lies in the combination of hormones they contain. The active ingredients in Cilest are Ethinylestradiol, an oestrogen which can be found in many other contraceptive pills, and the progesterone Norgestimate. In combination, the two hormones provide a very reliable contraceptive effect.
How does sex work on Cilest? – while taking a contraceptive pill, you can enjoy spontaneous sex without having to worry about additional contraception. In this situation, it is easy to forget that with regards to sexually transmitted diseases, you are still having unprotected sex. It is vital that you continue to use a condom when having sex with partners whose health status you are unsure of. Having unprotected sex puts you at risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections such as gonorrhea, herpes, human papilloma virus and HIV.
When should I start taking it? – if you have recently been prescribed Cilest for the first time, you should begin your first course by taking the first tablet from the blister pack on the first day of your period. This way, you will not require additional contraception. If you prefer to start taking Cilest on a later day in your cycle, you will need to use a barrier method such as a condom for 7 days, until contraception with Cilest is effective. Don’t take Cilest if you suspect you might already be pregnant, as it will have no contraceptive effect and may put you at increased risk.
What happens if I forget the pill? – if you have forgotten to take your pill but remember to take it within a 12 hour window, you are still protected. Just take your pill as soon as you remember and continue by taking the next pill at the usual time. This might mean taking two tablets on the same day. If you are more than 24 hours late, you may need to use an additional method of contraception for 7 days to ensure that you will not get pregnant. Whether this is necessary depends on your cycle – please read the patient leaflet of your pill, which will give you detailed instructions on how to proceed in different scenarios.
What if I want to stop taking Cilest? – if you would like to get pregnant and have decided to stop using contraception, you should finish your current blister pack of Cilest. After having taken your last tablet, you will no longer be protected from pregnancy. You will be able to get pregnant from the time of your next ovulation. Usually, this occurs within 1-2 weeks of taking your last contraceptive pill. In some cases however, it can take longer. Taking a contraceptive pill generally has no long-term impact on your fertility.
Some women experience side effects when taking Cilest.
Common side effects include:
- Fluid retention
- Mood swings and depression
- Skin conditions such as acne
- Muscle pain and spasms
- Painful breasts
- Infections of the urinary tract and vagina such as cystitis and thrush
- Missing periods
- Weight gain
- Feeling tired or weak
You will find more information on rare side effects on the patient leaflet of your medication.
Drug Interactions - the following types of medicine can interact with the active ingredients of your pill:
- Medication to treat epilepsy
- Certain types of medication used to treat high blood pressure in the blood vessels of the lung
- Some types of antibiotics
- Anti-HIV medicines
- St. John’s Wort
- Some types of medication used to treat high cholesterol levels
It depends on where you are in your monthly cycle when you first start taking it – it is best to take Cilest between days 1 – 5 of your period. Taking it during this time will ensure that you don’t need other contraceptive cover, as Cilest will be effective right away.
You can also start taking Cilest at any other time of your cycle, provided you are sure you are not pregnant. If you take Cilest after day 5 of your period or want to have sex in the meantime, you need other contraceptive cover, such as condoms for the first 7 days. You need to allow 7 days for Cilest to work effectively.
Does anything slow down its effect? – yes, some medicines and medical conditions can slow down its effect. Some medicines interact by speeding up the process of how quickly your body breaks down uses Cilest, which slows down and reduces its effect. This may happen a few days after you take Cilest with the medicine and may carry on for a few weeks after you stop. These medicines are also called enzyme inducers and include the following:
- Barbiturates – prescribed for anxiety and sleep disorders
- Bosentan – prescribed for high blood pressure in the lungs
- Some medicines for epilepsy such as carbamazepine, phenytoin and primidone
- Modafinil – prescribed for excessive sleepiness with or without loss of muscle control
- Griseofulvin – prescribed for fungal infections on the skin, scalp, hair or nails
- Rifampicin and rifabutin – antibiotics used for infections such as tuberculosis
- St John Wort (Hypericum perforatum) – a herbal remedy
Some medicines will also affect the absorption of Cilest and reduce its effect, such as:
- Metoclopramide – prescribed for nausea and vomiting
- Recent treatment with activated charcoal
- Colesevelam – prescribed for high cholesterol
Vomiting and diarrhoea can also reduce the effect of Cilest – if you vomit for any reason within 2 hours of taking Cilest, then take another pill as soon as possible. You won’t need extra contraceptive cover. If vomiting or diarrhoea persist for more that 24 hours then you must:
- Follow the instructions for missed pills counting each day of vomiting and/or diarrhoea as a missed pill
- Avoid sex or use condoms during the time you are unwell and for 7 days afterwards
- If you are unwell during the last 7 days of taking your pill then start the next pill cycle without taking a 7-day break
Speak to your doctor or pharmacist if you are unsure about any interaction or another medical condition. See the patient information leaflet provided with your contraceptive for a full list of interacting medicines and other medical conditions.
Can I speed up its effect? – you won’t be able to speed up its effect, but taking it within days 1 – 5 of your period will ensure that Cilest is effective right away. When used correctly, Cilest can be 99% effective. Taking it correctly is the most important way to ensure that you have contraceptive cover.
Can Cilest get rid of acne? – like other oral combined contraceptive pills (COC’s), it may help with acne symptoms. Only hormonal acne will respond to treatment as this type of acne is caused by excess hormones, which COC’s work to balance. Once the hormones are balanced, the level of sebum on the skin reduces and your acne symptoms can improve. It may take a few months until you notice an improvement.
Is Cilest a good choice for acne treatment? – it may be suitable if you have hormonal acne and want contraception, otherwise other treatments may be better. Currently, Cilest is not licensed in the UK for acne. Another oral COC pill called co-cyprindiol is and can be prescribed for women with moderate to severe acne. One of its most common branded version is called, Dianette. Speak to your doctor for further advice.
Please note – some contraceptives, such as the progestogen-only pill (mini-pill) or the contraceptive implant can make acne worse.
How do I know if I have hormonal acne? – this type of acne is related to the fluctuations in your hormones. If your acne suddenly starts well into your adulthood and you also have excessive body hair (hirsutism) or irregular or lighter periods, then these may be symptoms of hormonal imbalance or an underlying medical condition such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) that is causing the hormonal imbalance. Speak to your doctor for further advice.
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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