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Synphase tablets are a type of hormonal contraception commonly known as 'the pill' or combined oral contraceptive pill. Synphase tablets contain two active ingredients, ethinylestradiol and norethisterone. These are synthetic versions of the naturally occurring female sex hormones, oestrogen and progesterone. Ethinylestradiol (previously spelt ethinyloestradiol in the UK) is a synthetic version of oestrogen and norethisterone is a synthetic form of progesterone. Combined oral contraceptives like Synphase work by over-riding the normal menstrual cycle. In a woman's normal menstrual cycle, levels of the sex hormones change throughout each month. The hormones cause an egg to be released from the ovaries (ovulation) and prepare the lining of the womb for a possible pregnancy. At the end of each cycle, if the egg has not been fertilised the levels of the hormones fall, causing the womb lining to be shed as a monthly period. Synphase is a triphasic pill. This means that each 21 day pack contains three types of tablets, each with a slightly different dose of hormones in it. There are seven blue tablets containing 35 micrograms ethinylestradiol and 500 micrograms norethisterone, nine white tablets containing 35 micrograms ethinylestradiol and 1 mg norethisterone then five more blue tablets containing 35 micrograms ethinylestradiol and 500 mg norethisterone. The contraceptive pill results in lighter, less painful and more regular menstrual bleeding. This means it is sometimes prescribed for women who have problems with particularly heavy, painful or irregular periods.