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Mercilon (Combined Pill)

Available as 3 month or 6 month pack

  • Combined contraceptive pill containing desogestrel and ethinylestradiol. 
  • Up to 99% effective at preventing pregnancy.
  • Always read the patient information leaflet before use.
Upon completion of a medical consultation with one of our health care professionals you can expect prices to start from £15.99
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Faye Bonnell - Medical Content Writer
Faye Bonnell
James O'Loan - CEO & Prescribing Pharmacist
James O'Loan
CEO & Prescribing Pharmacist
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What is Mercilon?

Mercilon is a low-dose version of the combined contraceptive pill, used by women to prevent pregnancy. A combined contraceptive pill means there are two types of female sex hormones  - oestrogen and progestogen - working together to prevent pregnancy, making it one of the most reliable reversible methods of contraception. The two active ingredients in Mercilon are desogestrel and ethinylestradiol. 

How should I take this pill? 

To prevent pregnancy using Mercilon, you must take one pill each day at the same time each day. Mercilon comes in strips of 21 tablets - once you’ve taken all 21 tablets, you should take a 7-day break where you won’t take any pills. You’ll still be protected from pregnancy during this time, but the break from hormones will trigger a withdrawal bleed similar to a period. You must start your next strip once the 7 days have passed, even if you’re still bleeding. 

What should I do if I miss a pill? 

If you were due to take a pill less than 12 hours ago, take the missed pill as soon as you remember, even if this means taking two pills in one day. You will still be protected from pregnancy in this case. 

If the pill you missed should have been taken more than 12 hours ago, or you’ve missed more than one pill, take the most recently missed pill straight away and leave any earlier missed pills in the strip. In this case, you will need to use another method of contraception for the next 7 days. If there are fewer than 7 pills left in the strip, skip the 7-day break and go straight onto your next strip after finishing your current one. 

If you are sick or have severe diarrhoea within 4 hours of taking Mercilon, your body may not have absorbed the hormones in the pill. You should follow the instructions on what to do in the event of a missed pill. 

Starting Mercilon

The best time to start taking Mercilon for the first time is on the first day of your period. By starting your pill at this time, you will be protected from pregnancy straight away and you won’t need to use another method of contraception. If you start taking Mercilon on any other day, you should use barrier contraception for the first 7 days of pill use. 

If you’re changing from a different type of hormonal contraception, such as another contraceptive pill or an implant, refer to the patient information leaflet about how to switch to Mercilon. 

How do desogestrel and ethinylestradiol prevent pregnancy?

Mercilon contains 150mg of the progestogen desogestrel and 30mg of the oestrogen ethinylestradiol. These hormones stop you from getting pregnant by preventing the release of an egg from your ovaries; making the fluid in your cervix thicker and therefore more difficult for sperm to get through into the womb; and by preventing the lining of your womb from becoming thick enough for an egg to grow. 

Is Mercilon suitable for pregnant or breastfeeding women?

You should not take Mercilon if you’re pregnant, or think you may be pregnant. You should speak to your doctor or Chemist4U pharmacist before taking Mercilon if you’re breastfeeding, to make sure it’s right for you and your baby. You may be advised not to take this pill. 

Can the pill be used to treat acne? 

Mercilon, and other combined contraceptive pills, are not specific treatments for acne. However, some doctors will prescribe a combined contraceptive pill to women who suffer from hormonal acne, as there does seem to be a beneficial effect. This is only the case with combined contraceptive pills like Mercilon, not progestogen-only mini-pills. It can take around 2-3 months of taking the pill before you may notice any effect on your acne. 

When should Mercilon not be used? 

Mercilon is a contraceptive treatment for females only - do not take this medication if you are male. You should also not take this medication if: 

  • You have or have ever had a blood clot in a blood vessel of your legs, lungs or other organs

  • You know you have a disorder affecting your blood clotting - for instance, protein C deficiency, protein S deficiency, antithrombin-III deficiency, Factor V Leiden or antiphospholipid antibodies

  • You need an operation or you are off your feet for a long time 

  • You have ever had a heart attack or stroke

  • You have (or have ever had) angina pectoris (a condition that causes severe chest pain and may be the first sign of a heart attack) or transient ischaemic attack (TIA - temporary stroke symptoms) 

  • You have severe diabetes with blood vessel damage

  • You have a very high level of fat in the blood (cholesterol or triglycerides) 

  • You have a condition known as hyperhomocysteinaemia 

  • You have (or have ever had) a type of migraine called ‘migraine with aura’ 

  • You have or have recently had severe liver disease 

  • You have ever had a liver tumour

  • You have or have had pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) associated with high levels of fatty substances in your blood 

  • You are pregnant or suspect you may be pregnant 

  • You have cancer of the sex hormones - such as some cancers of the breast, womb lining or ovary

  • You have unexplained vaginal bleeding

If you are taking any other medicines or herbal remedies, including those obtained without a prescription, you should speak to your doctor or Chemist4U pharmacist before taking Mercilon. 

Some conditions can be made worse by taking Mercilon. You should take extra caution and speak to your doctor or Chemist4U pharmacist if any of the below conditions have ever applied to you: 

  • Problems with your heart, circulation or blood clotting, such as heart disease, high blood pressure for which you take medicines or diabetes

  • Kidney or liver problems

  • Severe depression

  • Migraines

  • Problems while pregnant or using the pill (e.g. itching of the whole body, jaundice, gallstones, systemic lupus erythematosus, a blister-like rash called herpes gestationis, a hearing problem called otosclerosis or other rare conditions called porphyria and hereditary angioedema) 

  • Brown patches on your face or body (chloasma) 

  • Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis

  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)

  • Haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS)

  • Sickle cell anaemia 

  • Elevated levels of fat in the blood (hypertriglyceridaemia) or a positive family history for this condition

  • You need an operation or you are off your feet for a long time

  • You have just given birth 

  • You have inflammation in the veins under the skin

  • You have varicose veins

Are there any side effects?

As with all medicines, Mercilon can cause side effects, but not everyone will get them. See a doctor straight away if you experience any symptoms of an allergic reaction, blood clots, heart attack or stroke, breast cancer, cervical cancer or severe liver problems. Information on the symptoms of these conditions can be found in the patient information leaflet. These side effects are rare but severe.

Other side effects can include: 

  • Headaches

  • Weight gain

  • Breast problems (such as painful or tender breasts)

  • Depression or mood changes

  • Stomach problems (such as nausea or abdominal pain)

  • Migraines

  • Fluid retention

  • Low sex drive

  • Vomiting or diarrhoea

  • Skin problems (such as rash or hives)

  • Breast enlargement

For further information on rare side effects, refer to the patient information leaflet. If you experience any side effects, including any not included in the patient information leaflet, you can report them using the MHRA Yellow Card Scheme

Can Mercilon cause blood clots? 

Using a combined contraceptive pill like Mercilon can increase your risk of developing a blood clot. Whilst still rare, the risk is highest during the first year of taking the pill, and you should be aware of the symptoms. Seek emergency medical attention if you experience any of the following symptoms: 

  • Throbbing or cramping pain, swelling, redness and warmth in your leg or arm

  • Sudden breathlessness, sharp chest pain and a cough or coughing up blood 

For further information on the link between the combined contraceptive pill and blood clots, refer to the patient information leaflet. 

Can the pill increase the risk of breast cancer?

Breast cancer has been found slightly more often in women who take a contraceptive pill compared to women who don’t. Once you stop taking the pill, the risk gradually decreases and 10 years after stopping the pill the risk will be the same as someone who has never taken a contraceptive pill. Breast cancer is still rare for anyone under the age of 40, even in women who take the pill.

Do I need a prescription for Mercilon?

You do need a prescription for Mercilon in the UK. Our healthcare professionals can provide prescriptions if they think this treatment would be right for you and your condition. When you click the button which reads “Start Consultation” at the top of this page, you’ll see a short questionnaire set up by our healthcare team which is designed to help them understand your medical needs. Just like an in-person consultation with your GP, our doctors will assess your answers to their questions and write a prescription for the treatment they think will be best for you. You’ll then be able to pay for your medication and we’ll send it out to you quickly and in discreet packaging.

Storage information

Keep out of sight and reach of children in a cool, dry area below 25°C. Do not use this medicine after the expiry date printed on the packaging, referring to the last day of the stated month. 

Important information

This product is a medicine; make sure to speak to your doctor or Chemist4U pharmacist before taking this product if you have an underlying medical problem or are taking any other medicine or complementary therapy. If your symptoms get worse or continue after taking this product, contact us or your doctor. For medical services in your area, please refer to

If you are pregnant, trying to become pregnant, or breastfeeding, speak to your doctor or our pharmacist before taking this product. If you suffer from any allergies, ask your doctor or our pharmacist if this medicine is right for you.

Store all medicines out of sight and reach of children.

Please read the included leaflet carefully before using this product.

Please contact your GP if appropriate regarding this product.

Helpful Advice on Medication Restrictions & Addiction

For further information on our medication restrictions policy, please click here.

If you are concerned about addiction to 'over the counter' medication, we urge you to visit the below links for professional help and advice:

NHS Help & Advice on Drug Addiction

Talk To Frank - Drug Addiction Help & Support

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