Levest is a form of combined contraceptive , so called because it uses two synthetic versions of natural hormones in the female body, namely ethinyl estradiol, based on estrogen, and levonorgestrel, similar to progestogen.
What is Levest?
Levest tablets are combined contraceptive pills that contain two active ingredients. The first is ethinyl estradiol, a synthetic version of the female sex hormone estrogen, while the second is levonorgestrel, the synthetic version of progesterone.
When taken regularly, these two substances work in the same way as the naturally occurring hormones in the female body. Combined pills such as Levest work by over-riding the natural female menstruation cycle, preventing the ovaries from releasing an egg as normal at the end of each month. Pills such as Levest can also increase the thickness of the natural mucus at the neck of the womb, making it harder for sperm to cross over from the vagina during sex. Levest can reduce the thickness of the womb lining, creating a more difficult environment for fertilized eggs to attach to.
When is Levest used?
Like similar combined contraceptive pills, Levest tablets are usually prescribed to women who want to avoid unplanned pregnancy. Levest can help to prevent pregnancy when it is taken regularly according to the instructions provided on the packet. However, it will not protect against other side effects of unprotected sex, such as sexually transmitted infections. Aside from using Levest to prevent unplanned pregnancy, some women also take it when they have problems with particularly heavy and irregular bleeding during the menstrual cycle. Taking the Levest combined pill can sometimes contribute to more regular and less painful periods.
Levest is similar to other combined pills that contain 30 micrograms of ethinyl estradiol, and 150 micrograms of levonorgestrel. It is typically prescribed for women under the age of 35 who do not have a history of any major health problems. It will not be suitable for people with a higher risk of blood clots.
How do you use Levest tablets?
Similar to other combined contraceptive pills, Levest tablets work best when taken at the same time every day. You will need to take Levest contraceptive pills each day for a period of 21 days to protect against pregnancy. When you follow the instructions provided by your consultant and the patient leaflet that comes with Levest, it is 99% effective. Sometimes, vomiting, diarrhoea and missing pills can reduce the efficacy of this pill, however.
The Levest combined pill comes in a packet that is marked with the days of the week. You will need to take one Levest combined pill at the same time every day for a period of 21 days. You can then follow the 21-day period with a seven-day break when you do not take any pill. During your break, you might notice a bleed that is similar to your typical period. You will still be protected against pregnancy during your break if you have been using this medication correctly. After your seven- day break, you will need to start your next Levest combined pill pack.
Women can begin taking Levest tablets at any time during their menstrual cycle. If you have regular periods and you begin on the first five days of your period, you should be protected against pregnancy immediately, and you will not need to use additional contraception. If you begin using Levest at any other time in your cycle, you will need to use additional contraception for the first seven days.
What dosages are there?
The Levest combined pill needs to be taken for a period of 21 days continuously, followed by a break of seven days where you will not take any pills. The usual dose for this medication is a single Levest tablet taken once a day. Your doctor will recommend taking your pill at the same time every day to ensure that you get the best results from it.
If you miss a dose of Levest, take it as soon as you remember. If you take the pill less than 12 hours after it is due, you are still protected. If you take it after more than 12 hours, you will not be protected for seven days and will need to use barrier contraceptives.
What are the side effects of Levest?
Many medications, including the Levest combined pill, can come with unwanted side effects as well as the benefits that are intended. The most common side effects of the combined pill will tend to diminish over time after your body gets used to the regular dose of hormones.
However, if any common side effects such as the following persist or worsen, you should contact your doctor:
- Feeling sick or nauseous;
- Breast pain or tenderness;
- Slight bleeding between periods;
- Abdominal or stomach pain;
- Lighter or no periods;
- Mood changes such as stress and anxiety;
- Fluid retention that appears in the form of weight gain.
Other possible side effects can be more significant, including a rise in blood pressure, change in sex drive and sometimes skin reactions.
One of the more rare but serious side effects of taking a combined pill such as Levest is that your risk of getting a blood clot is increased. A blood clot in an artery can heighten your risk of having a heart attack or stroke, while a blood clot in a vein can cause issues such as pulmonary embolisms and deep vein thrombosis. The risk for the average person of getting a blood clot when taking the Levest combined pill is relatively low. However, you might have a slightly higher risk if you are immobile for extended periods of time. If you are unable to move after an accident or surgery for a period of several months, it might not be safe to take Levest tablets. Some people who travel extensively can also have a higher risk of blood clots. Doctors will sometimes recommend using other strategies to reduce your risk of blood clots if you are a frequent traveler using Levest.
When should you not take Levest tablets?
While Levest is a generally well-tolerated combined contraceptive pill, it will not be the most suitable solution for everyone. You will not be able to take this medication if you have specific issues in your medical history. It is important to answer any questions that your consultant has for you truthfully before you begin using this medication.
The Levest combined pill is not suitable for people over the age of 35 who smoke or have a BMI of more than 35. You will also not be able to take this medication if you have ever had a blood clot in your vein or artery, or you have a history of very high blood pressure. People with heart conditions and blood disorders that increase their risk of blood clots may not be safe to take Levest tablets.
Your consultant may recommend an alternative form of contraception if you have severe diabetes with complications that affect the nerves, kidneys or eyes, or if you have ever suffered from migraines with an aura. You may also not be able to take this medication if you have ever had breast cancer, certain liver disease or gall bladder disease.
In some cases, your consultant will still prescribe this medication if you have had certain conditions in the past. However, they may need you to monitor your condition. For instance, people with high blood pressure and cholesterol levels may still be able to take the Levest combined pill with regular check-ups. The same is true for people who use a wheelchair and those who have Crohn’s disease or a history of migraines. Follow the instructions provided by your consultant on how to take Levest tablets safely to make sure that your risk of dangerous side effects is as low as possible.
Does Levest interact with any other medications?
Levest tablets and other combined pills may sometimes interact with the other medications that you are using to manage various conditions. Before you begin using any new medication, it is important to tell your consultant about any substances that you are already taking. This includes making sure that your doctor is aware of any prescription pills, over-the-counter medications or herbal remedies you are taking.
Some of the medications that Levest can interact with are:
- Certain medications for HIV such as nevirapine;
- Some antiepileptic medications such as carbamazepine;
- Antibiotics such as rifampicin and rifabutin for tuberculosis;
- Modafinil for narcolepsy;
- Herbal remedies like St John’s Wort;
- The antifungal medication Griseofulvin.
If you are prescribed any of the medications above for a short period of time, you may need to ask your doctor or consultant whether you will still be protected from pregnancy when you using them. Antibiotics other than the ones mentioned above are unlikely to make Levest less effective, unless you have vomiting or diarrhoea when using them. If you have diarrhoea or vomiting when taking the Levest combined pill, you will need to ask your doctor whether you need additional forms of contraception.
The morning after pill-known as EllaOne can sometimes make Levest less effective. If you use this emergency contraception when you are using the combined pill, you will need an extra form of protection for at least 14 days after the use of EllaOne.
Where can you buy Levest?
You can purchase the Levest combined pill online after completing a full consultation with one of our experts. We will require a recent blood pressure check. We can have a prescription sent to a pharmacy for you within three working days.
Can you get Levest without a prescription?
Because the Levest combined pill is not suitable for everyone, it is not available without a prescription. You will need a consultation to get this medication.
Medicines.org, online, 2019, “Levest 150/30 microgram Coated Tablets” [Accessed 3 December 2019], Available on: https://www.medicines.org.uk/emc/product/9565/smpc
Mims.co.uk, 2019, online, “Levest” [Accessed 3 December 2019], Available on: https://www.mims.co.uk/drugs/contraception/combined-contraceptives/levest
Nhs.uk, online, 2019, “Combined pill”, [Accessed 3 December 2019], Available on: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/contraception/combined-contraceptive-pill/