Cerelle is a contraceptive pill with only one hormone in it: desogestrel. It’s just a type of progesterone that prevents pregnancy by stopping the ovaries from releasing an egg. Without an egg, there’s nothing for a sperm to fertilise. It also makes the fluid in the cervix thicker, which makes it more difficult for sperm to reach an egg.
Cerelle is a pill of many names. Sometimes it’s referred to as the mini pill. Sometimes it’s referred to as the progestogen-only pill, or POP.
The combined contraceptive pill is used more widely than the mini pill, but the oestrogen in it isn’t suitable for all women. This is where birth control like Cerelle comes in. Because it’s a progesterone only pill, it’s ideal for women who are more sensitive to or can’t take oestrogen.
How do Cerelle pills stop you getting pregnant?
Your body prepares itself for pregnancy each month. When you ovulate, the ovary releases an egg which travels to the uterus. If the egg is fertilised by sperm, it embeds itself in the uterine wall, and starts to develop. If the egg isn’t fertilised, you don’t fall pregnant.
Ovulation is triggered by hormones in the body. Hormones cause other things to happen during this time too, such as making the uterine wall thicker, creating a better environment for a fertilised egg to grow there.
The body contains the naturally occurring hormones progesterone and oestrogen. Adding desogestrel, the hormone in Cerelle, to these existing hormones changes the hormonal balance slightly. Cerelle stops ovulation from happening, and thickens the mucus in the cervix, preventing sperm from being able to reach an egg very easily.
Cerelle effectiveness: what are the numbers?
If you take it properly, Cerelle is over 99% effective. So out of 100 women taking Cerelle over the course of one year, fewer than one will get pregnant. This is called ‘perfect use’.
But if you forget a pill from time to time or don’t take it when you should, it’s not quite as effective. Around 91%. So for every 100 women taking it over a 12-month period, nine will become pregnant. This is what’s known as ‘typical use’.
In short - the less mistakes you make with it, the lower your pregnancy risk.
How to take Cerelle
Cerelle comes in strips of 28 pills, each pill marked with the day of the week alongside it and arrows which you should follow. Take one pill at the same time every day, with no breaks between one strip and the next.
Swallow each pill whole with water.
If you take your first Cerelle pill on the first day of your period, you’ll get immediate protection from pregnancy. You can start taking Cerelle on days two to five of your cycle, but you’ll need to use additional contraception such as condoms for the first seven days.
You may experience some bleeding when you’re using Cerelle, but just keep taking the pills as normal. Most women notice that their periods stop or become very light and infrequent when taking Cerelle, which can be an added benefit and is perfectly safe.
When you’ve reached the end of a strip, start a new strip the following day, without waiting for a bleed.
Missed pill on Cerelle: what to do
If you miss a pill - don’t worry. Follow the guidance in the information leaflet that comes with your treatment.
If you’re less than 12 hours late in taking a pill, take it as soon as you remember and take any pills that follow at the usual time. Your protection from pregnancy isn’t affected.
If more than 12 hours have passed since you took a pill, you’ve been sick, or you have diarrhoea, you may be at higher risk of getting pregnant. Take the pill you missed as soon as you can, even if it means taking two pills on the same day. If you’ve missed more than one pill, you only need to take the pill you missed most recently. Then take any pills after that as normal. You’ll need to use extra contraception, such as condoms, for the next seven days, as your protection from pregnancy has been affected.
Coming off Cerelle
If you want to come off Cerelle, talk to us first before you stop taking it. You’ll no longer be protected from pregnancy once you’ve stopped.
If you’re having periods, you may want to wait until you’ve got to the end of your current strip before you stop taking it, so you can stick with a regular cycle.
When we present you with stats, data, opinion or a consensus, we’ll tell you where this came from. And we’ll only present data as clinically reliable if it’s come from a reputable source, such as a state or government-funded health body, a peer-reviewed medical journal, or a recognised analytics or data body. Read more in our editorial policy.
Have something specific you want to know? Search our info below, or ask our experts a question if you can’t find what you’re looking for.
Can Cerelle interfere with other medications?
It’s important to let us know about any medications you’re currently taking, or have recently taken, during your consultation.
Medicines for the treatment of epilepsy, HIV, Hepatitis C, high blood pressure in the lungs, depressive moods, some bacterial and fungal infections, high blood pressure, angina or certain heart rhythm disorders can interact with Cerelle. This may impact how effective it is.
Can you get pregnant on Cerelle?
It’s possible, but there’s very little chance of it happening if you take it correctly. If you miss a pill or are sick after taking one, check the information leaflet that comes with your pill for advice on what to do. Sometimes you may need to use additional contraception like a condom to cover you, until the pill takes effect again.
Can you get Cerelle without a prescription?
No. Like other mini pills in the UK, Cerelle is only available on prescription.
Certain mini pills aren’t always safe for women to take, and which pills are suitable for you depends on your medical background. So it’s very important that you have a consultation with a clinician.
Our clinical experts can assess which pills might be best for you in light of any health conditions, symptoms or side effects you may experience, and talk you through your options.
Does Cerelle stop periods?
It can, yes. For most women their bleeding is very light. It only lasts a day or two and only comes 3 or 4 times per year rather than every month. It may also trigger irregular bleeding or spotting. But these side effects aren’t usually harmful, and tend to settle down after a few months.
If you find that your bleeding persists, or if you’re concerned that you might be pregnant because you haven’t had a period, get in touch with our clinician.
Cerelle and Cerazette: which is better?
Cerazette is the branded pill, and it’s slightly more expensive than Cerelle, which is the generic treatment. And because the two pills are made by different manufacturers, the pills themselves may look different, and the packaging isn’t the same.
But besides who makes them, their cost and their appearance, Cerelle and Cerazette contain the same hormone, desogestrel, and they both work in the body in the same way to prevent pregnancy.
So one isn’t better than the other. It’s all down to personal preference on your part
Is Noriday the same as Cerelle?
The Noriday pill has a different hormone in it (norethisterone) but it acts in the same way. You may find that you’re more sensitive to certain hormones than others though, so if you develop side effects with Cerelle that bother you, Noriday might be a better option for you, and vice versa.
If you’re three or more hours late in taking Noriday, it counts as a missed pill. So it can be a bit more demanding than Cerelle in this respect, where the window is 12 hours.
What’s the difference between Cerelle and Feanolla?
There’s little difference really. They’re both progesterone only contraceptive pills that contain the same amount of desogestrel, which works in the body to protect you from pregnancy.
Feanolla is a branded pill though, and is a little more expensive than Cerelle. So its packaging and the pills themselves may look different too.
But otherwise, the two pills do the same job in the body.
Does Cerelle cause weight gain?
There isn’t enough evidence to say that any type of contraceptive pill leads to considerable weight gain.
You may find that you put on a small amount of weight when you first start taking the pill, and this can be caused by the body retaining more water at certain points of your cycle than it would otherwise. But it isn’t normally very much weight, and it tends to go away once your body has adjusted to the pill after a few months
Will Cerelle give me acne?
The mini pill can make acne worse, as it only contains a type of progesterone. Progesterone causes the skin to create more sebum, which is an oily substance that protects your skin. But too much of it can give you spots, and block your pores.
If you’re looking for a pill that may help to treat acne, the combined contraceptive pill, which also contains oestrogen, may be a better choice for you. Our clinician can advise you on this as part of your consultation.
Can any woman take Cerelle?
Cerelle is not suitable for women who are allergic to desogestrel or any other ingredients in it (see the information leaflet that comes with your treatment for the full list of ingredients). It’s also unsuitable for women who have thrombosis.
If you have or have had jaundice, or if you have or you may have breast cancer, Cerelle isn’t suitable (as cancer can worsen if you take certain hormones). It’s not an appropriate pill for women who have any unexplained vaginal bleeding either.
Cerelle may also not be a suitable option for women who have diabetes, epilepsy, high blood pressure or depression or mood changes.
If you have any illnesses or medical conditions, tell us during your consultation.
Why should I buy Cerelle with Treated?
Given that there’s so much choice, finding the right birth control for you can be a bit overwhelming. We’ll narrow down your options. Tell us about your health and our clinicians will recommend the best treatments for you.
Once you’ve picked your contraception, set your delivery schedule, and the quantity of birth control you’d like us to send to you, we’ll ship it to you from our licensed pharmacy.
And if you’ve got any questions about your treatment, our clinicians are on hand to help. You can drop them a message using your Treated account. They’ll check in with you regularly to find out how you’re getting on with your birth control.
If you’d like us to change your prescription, or try a different treatment, we can do that too.
Disclaimer: The information provided on this page is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any questions or concerns about your health, please talk to a doctor.
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