Marvelon is a brand of the combined oral contraceptive pill. It is taken to prevent an unwanted pregnancy, and is an effective method of contraception when taken as prescribed.
- Marvelon is a combined oral contraceptive pill
- It contains synthetic versions of the natural hormones produced by a woman’s body (oestrogen and progesterone)
- Marvelon is the brand name, and the active ingredients are desogestrel and ethinylestradiol
- It is taken if you want to avoid getting pregnant whilst sexually active
- The combined pill is not suitable for all women, as it can increase the risk of blood clots and some cancers
- Marvelon does not protect against sexually transmitted infections
- It is important to read the patient leaflet for a full list of side effects and cautions.
How Does Marvelon Work?
Marvelon contains two hormones that would naturally be produced by a woman’s body. When taken in the dose contained within the pill, they prevent you from getting pregnant.
Marvelon works in three ways to prevent a pregnancy from occurring.
- It prevents an egg from being released from the ovaries
- It makes the mucus around the cervix thicker to stop sperm from entering the uterus
- It prevents the lining of the uterus from thickening, so that a fertilised egg would be unable to implant and begin developing.
The combined pill is one of the most effective reversible forms of contraception. In this context, the word reversible means that if you stop taking it, you could get pregnant. It is therefore not a permanent choice and should not prevent you from getting pregnant in future if you wanted to.
How is Marvelon Taken?
Marvelon is a tablet that should be swallowed with some water.
When first starting Marvelon, you should begin taking it on the first day of your period. One Marvelon tablet should be taken every day for 21 days in a row. After this, you will have a 7 day break where you do not take Marvelon. During this time, you are likely to have a withdrawal bleed (a bleed that is like a period).
At the end of the 7 days, you start a new strip of 21 tablets and continue this cycle to maintain your contraceptive cover.
If you are switching from another 21 day combined pill, you should finish the tablets in the old pack and then start the first Marvelon tablet the next day (i.e. don’t leave a gap between tablets). Begin the 21 days of Marvelon and then have a 7 day tablet-free period before starting the next strip of Marvelon.
If you are switching from a progesterone only pill (POP or mini-pill), you should take the first Marvelon tablet on the first day of your period, even if you have already taken a mini pill that day. Continue taking Marvelon for 21 days without interruption, and then have a 7 day pill-free break. Start the next strip of Marvelon at the end of the 7 day break.
You should take Marvelon at the same time every day. If you forget to take your tablet, but it is within 12 hours of the normal time, take the missed pill and then resume taking the pill at the usual time. If it is more than 12 hours later, you should take the missed pill but should use additional contraceptives (such as condoms) for 7 days, as your contraceptive cover will be reduced.
Dosage of Marvelon
Each Marvelon tablet contains 150 micrograms of desogestrel (synthetic progesterone) and 30 micrograms of ethinylestradiol (synthetic oestrogen).
Are there any Side Effects?
Like all medications, Marvelon can have some side effects. The most common side effects include:
- Nausea (feeling sick)
- Abdominal pain
- Weight gain
- Mood swings or low mood
- Painful breasts.
These side effects are likely to settle down, but if they persist or become troublesome you should speak to your doctor for further advice.
Less commonly, Marvelon can cause:
- Liver or kidney problems
- Yellow or brown patches to the skin (chloasma)
- Spotting between your periods.
Occasionally, Marvelon can cause more serious health concerns. Marvelon can increase your risk of:
- Blood clots to the legs – seek medical advice immediately if you experience a painful, red, or swollen leg
- Blood clots to the lungs – seek help immediately if you experience breathlessness, chest pain or cough up any blood
- Breast cancer
- Cervical cancer
- Liver disease.
Marvelon may not be suitable if you, or a close family member, have been diagnosed with one of these conditions.
Serious allergic reactions happen very rarely. If you have a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) including breathlessness, lip swelling or tongue swelling, call 999 immediately.
Marvelon may not be suitable for everyone. You should tell your prescriber if you:
- Have liver or kidney disease
- Have gallstones
- Have otosclerosis (a form of deafness)
- Have cervical or breast cancer
- Have blood clots including those in the legs or lungs
- Have Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
- Have lupus
- Have sickle cell disease
- Have migraines
- Have angioedema (swelling of different parts of the body)
- Have porphyria
- Are breastfeeding.
Some medications can interact with Marvelon. You may be advised that Marvelon will not suit you if you already take:
- Medications for epilepsy or seizures
- Some antibiotic and antifungal medications
- St John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum)
- Antiretroviral medications for HIV or AIDS.
Because Marvelon may not suit everyone, we will complete a Consultation with you including a health questionnaire. This will ensure that the medication will be suitable for you.
A qualified prescriber will review your current medications, including any herbal remedies or supplements, to ensure that Marvelon will not interact with them.