What is Marvelon?
Marvelon is one of a family of hormonal contraception tablets generically known as ‘the pill’. It has two active ingredients, desogestrel and ethylestradiol, which have led to it being also called the combined oral contraceptive pill. Read on below for more information about this commonly used contraceptive drug.
When is Marvelon used?
As well as being used for contraceptive purposes, Marvelon is also prescribed for women who suffer painful periods, as it results in a more regular pattern of menstrual bleeding. Desogestrel and ethylestradiol are synthetic varieties of the progesterone and oestrogen female sex hormones that occur naturally. They override the normal menstrual cycle and trick the body into believing that ovulation has already occurred, and this in turn prevents maturation of the eggs that are produced each month by the ovaries.
These synthetic hormones, combined in a single pill, also have the effect of thickening the mucus which is secreted at the mouth of the uterus, so that during intercourse male sperm will have more difficulty in getting from the vagina to an egg. The endometrium of the womb lining is also altered, making implantation (should fertilisation occur) much more difficult.
How do you use Marvelon?
It’s a good idea to take Marvelon at the same time each day, to help you remember. The pill is simply swallowed with water and either with or without food. Women usually start taking in on the first day of their cycle, or any time up to day five, to remove the need for any other contraception measures. If your cycle is unusually short then day five may be too late, and you’ll need to talk to your healthcare professional about additional measures to put in place to avoid pregnancy.
Marvelon tablets come in a handy calendar pack, which is clearly marked out for days of the week, to make it easier to see where you’re at in terms of the 21-day pill taking cycle and the 7-day break. As long as you take all the pills correctly you will be in no danger of getting pregnant during the break period, provided that you didn’t have diarrhoea, sickness or took certain other medications in the meantime.
Marvelon tablets are monophasic, meaning that they all contain the same dosage of hormones. One pill is taken every day for 21 days, followed by a 7-day break. During the break, blood hormone levels fall and the resultant withdrawal bleed is like a regular period. After the seven days have elapsed, the next pack can be started even if you still happen to be bleeding.
The most common side effects of taking Marvelon are vomiting and diarrhoea. If you experience either of these the effect of the pill may be impaired. Continue taking it at the usual time, but treat the days of diarrhoea or vomiting as if they were missed pill days and see what to do in the instructions under what to do if you miss a pill.
There are however other side effects which may be experienced, including:
• Abdominal pains
• Fluid retention
• Vaginal thrush,
• Increase in blood pressure
• An alteration in liver function.
In rare cases, blood clots may form in blood vessels, leading to conditions such as pulmonary embolism and increasing the risk of suffering a stroke. If you experience any side effects that concern you then don’t hesitate to visit your nurse, pharmacist or doctor for more information and advice.
If you are already taking another medication, your doctor will need to be informed before prescribing Marvelon, as you may experience an adverse reaction. This includes any herbal medicines as well as prescription drugs, and you’ll need to be sure that the combination is a safe one.
Also, be aware that some medications have the effect of accelerating the breakdown in the liver of Marvelon, so if you’re taking one of them you might be reducing the drug’s effectiveness at preventing pregnancy. These medications include barbiturates and herbal remedies such as St John’s Wort, as well as many others. Again, if in doubt seek professional advice.
Use during pregnancy, while driving and with alcohol
As Marvelon is used to prevent pregnancy from happening in the first place it is pointless to take it if you are already pregnant. If however you do become pregnant while taking the pills, perhaps through missing a day or the pill itself failing, then it’s some comfort to know that the baby will not suffer any harm from the effect of the pills you have already taken. If you are taking the pill and suspect you’ve become pregnant, stop taking it and visit your doctor as soon as possible for a check-up and advice.
Since stimulants like caffeine and alcohol can affect the performance of medications, check with your doctor. Driving while taking the drug is perfectly safe.