Marvelon is an oral contraceptive pill that can be over 99% effective in preventing unwanted pregnancy. It's a great option if you don't smoke and are 35. It can also make your periods lighter and help with symptoms of PMS, acne, and period pain.

In stock
from £15.99

Product details

Marvelon is an oral contraceptive pill that you take to prevent pregnancy. It is available by prescription online and is suitable for most women. If you smoke and are over 35 or have certain medical conditions, Marvelon may not be suitable for you and your doctor will advise you on a suitable alternative.

Dr Simran Deo Medical Editor

Medically reviewed by

Dr Simran Deo

Last reviewed: 15 Mar 2021

Marvelon Prices

Pack Size Price
30 mcg - 3 x 21 tablet(s) £15.99
30 mcg - 6 x 21 tablet(s) £25.99

How it Works

About Marvelon

What is Marvelon?

Marvelon is a combined oral contraceptive pill that contains artificial versions of two female hormones, oestrogen and progesterone. Marvelon works to prevent pregnancy and can be used to treat painful or heavy periods.

Marvelon contains 30mcg of ethinylestradiol (the synthetic version of oestrogen) and 150mcg of desogestrel (the synthetic version of progesterone).

Is Marvelon the same as other combined pills?

Marvelon works in the same way as other combined pills to prevent pregnancy, but there are differences between brands in the amount of each hormone contained within the pill. The brand names Gedarel and Mercilon are the most similar to Marvelon as they also contain 150mcg of desogestrel and either 20 or 30mcg of ethinyl estradiol.

How to buy Marvelon

You need a prescription to buy Marvelon. You can buy it online from a registered online doctor such as Superdrug Online Doctor.

To check if a site has been licensed to sell medication, use the Government’s online checker.

You can get Marvelon from Superdrug Online Doctor even if you haven’t had a prescription for it before by following these simple steps:

  1. Complete the short online questionnaire.
  2. One of our doctors will make sure it's safe for you to take Marvelon and will confirm your prescription.
  3. You can then either collect the pill from a Superdrug store of your choice or have it sent to your home in a discreet unmarked package.

Can you get Marvelon over the counter?

No, Marvelon is a prescription-only medication. This means you cannot get it over the counter and need a prescription from a doctor to buy it.

Can you get Marvelon on the NHS?

You need to talk to your GP or a local NHS sexual health clinic to find out if you can get Marvelon for free as it depends on local NHS guidelines.

Is Marvelon safe?

If a doctor has prescribed you Marvelon then it is safe for you to take. It is a commonly prescribed combined contraceptive pill in the UK and evidence suggests that it’s just as safe to take as other similar pills.

How does Marvelon work?

Marvelon releases man-made versions of the female hormones oestrogen and progesterone into your body. These hormones work to prevent pregnancy by:

  • stopping your ovaries from releasing an egg
  • increasing the thickness of the fluid around the cervix so it is more difficult for sperm to reach an egg
  • making the lining of the womb thinner so it is harder for a fertilised egg to implant itself

How long does Marvelon take to work?

Whether or not you’re protected immediately from pregnancy once you start taking Marvelon depends on where you are in your menstrual cycle. It is recommended that you either start taking Marvelon on:

  • Day 1-5 of your period: you will be protected from pregnancy immediately
  • After day 5 of your cycle: you will need to use additional protection for 7 days before you are protected

How effective is Marvelon?

Marvelon is over 99% effective in preventing pregnancy when taken correctly. However, factors such as missing a pill, being sick or having diarrhoea (which prevents its absorption into your body) and certain other medicines can reduce the effectiveness of Marvelon to 91%. This is the same as other contraceptive pills.

Remember that the contraceptive pill does not protect you against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). You need to use a condom to be protected from STIs.

How do I take Marvelon?

Marvelon comes in strips of 21 tablets. Each tablet is marked with the day of the week it should be taken on.

  • Take your first tablet for the correct day of the week from the top strip.
  • Take each tablet whole with water at the same time each day.
  • When you reach the end of the packet and have taken all 21 pills, you take a break for 7 days.
  • During the 7 days, you will get a ‘withdrawal bleed’ which is similar to your period.
  • After 7 days you start a new strip of tablets.
  • Start the strip on the same day each time.

As long as you have taken Marvelon correctly all month you are protected from pregnancy during the 7-day break.

When should I start taking Marvelon?

You can start taking Marvelon at any time in your menstrual cycle, but you may not be immediately protected from pregnancy.

  • Take Marvelon in the first 5 days of your period and you will be protected straight away from pregnancy.
  • Otherwise start taking it on day 6 of your cycle (the first day of your period counts as Day 1) whether or not you have finished bleeding. You will need to use protection for the next 7 days but after that period you will be protected from pregnancy.

If you are changing contraceptive pills or changing from a coil or injection to take Marvelon, you should make sure you follow the directions given to ensure that you are fully protected from pregnancy.

  • If you are switching to Marvelon from a similar 21 day pill, you can start taking Marvelon the next day after your previous strip ends. You will be protected from pregnancy but will not have a bleed until you finish your first strip of Marvelon.
  • If you are currently taking a 28-day pill (which has active and inactive pills) you should start taking Marvelon at the end of your active pills. You will be protected from pregnancy but will not have a bleed until you finish the first strip of Marvelon.
  • If you are switching to Marvelon from a mini pill, you can start Marvelon on the first day of your period and you will be protected from pregnancy.
  • If you are switching from the mini pill but you don’t have bleeding you can start Marvelon on any day you want but you will need to use protection for 7 days.
  • If you are switching to Marvelon from the coil or injection you can start taking Marvelon the day your coil is removed or your injection is due but you will need to use additional protection for the first 7 days.

Can I take Marvelon without a break?

Yes, you can take Marvelon every day without a break without impacting your health. Some women report ‘breakthrough bleeding’ in the first days of the second strip but this is not a cause for concern.

Taking Marvelon continuously can help with heavy and painful periods. You should talk to your GP about this.

What do I do if I miss my pill when taking Marvelon?

What you need to do when you miss a pill depends on how many you have missed.

If you have missed one pill or start your new strip a day late:

  • Take the missed pill, even if this means taking two pills at once.
  • Continue taking the strip as normal.
  • You will be protected from pregnancy.
  • If your strip ends within 6 days of you missing a pill then do not take the 7-day break but start your new strip immediately.

If you are sick within 3 to 4 hours of taking your pill or have diarrhoea, your body may not have fully absorbed the hormones. You should treat this as though you have missed a pill. If you continue to be sick or have diarrhoea you should consult a pharmacist or nurse to get advice.

If you have missed two or more pills:

  • You should take your pill as normal once you remember.
  • You should use additional contraception for the next 7 days as you may not be protected from pregnancy.
  • If you have had unprotected sex since you missed your pill you will need to use emergency contraception.

Can I take Marvelon to delay my period?

Yes, you can skip the 7-day break and start a new strip immediately which will delay your period. You should talk to your GP if you do this regularly.

Can I use Marvelon as emergency contraception?

No, Marvelon is not an emergency contraceptive. Marvelon prevents an egg from being fertilised in the first place, whereas emergency oral contraception works to stop a pregnancy from developing after unprotected sex (and potentially fertilisation of an egg) has occurred.

Can I take Marvelon after a miscarriage or termination?

Yes, you can start taking Marvelon immediately after a miscarriage or termination. Make sure you discuss this with and follow your doctor’s advice.

Can I take Marvelon if I am breastfeeding?

No, it is not usually recommended to take Marvelon while you are breastfeeding due to the oestrogen it contains. Your GP may recommend that you take the mini pill instead, which only contains progesterone and is suitable for breastfeeding mothers.

Can I drink while taking Marvelon?

Yes, Marvelon does not interact with alcohol.

Can I take painkillers when taking Marvelon?

Yes, Marvelon does not interact with painkillers.

Marvelon side effects

Many women take Marvelon without experiencing any side effects. However, the hormonal changes can lead to side effects in some women, especially in the first 3 months of taking Marvelon as your body adapts to it. If side effects are affecting your daily life or don’t go away after 3 months, you should talk to your GP or message a doctor through your patient account on Superdrug Online. They may recommend that you stop taking Marvelon and try another type of contraceptive pill.

In rare cases Marvelon can have a serious side effect which can have an immediate impact on your health: blood clots. If you develop the symptoms of a blood clot you should stop taking Marvelon and contact your doctor immediately. The Patient Information Leaflet lists how to identify a potential blood clot. Signs include, but are not limited to, sudden loss of vision, sharp chest pain, unexplained swelling or tenderness in one or both legs, coughing up blood, shortness of breath.

Common side effects (may affect up to 1 in 10 women):

  • headache
  • feeling sick or stomach pain
  • weight gain
  • tender breasts
  • low mood, mood swings

Uncommon side effects (may affect up to 1 in 100 women):

  • migraine (see a doctor if it is your first or is particularly severe)
  • swollen hands, ankles or feet
  • low libido
  • being sick/diarrhoea
  • rash/hives
  • larger breasts

Rare side effects (may affect up to 1 in 1000 women):

  • irregular bleeding or changes in vaginal secretions
  • a milky fluid secreted from the nipples
  • eye discomfort if you wear contact lenses
  • decrease in body weight
  • increase in sexual desire
  • bruise-like swelling to the shins (erythema nodosum)
  • skin eruption with a lesion (erythema multiforme)
  • harmful blood clots in a vein or artery

The following side effects are discussed by women taking Marvelon:

Does Marvelon increase your risk of blood clots?

Using a combined hormonal contraceptive such as Marvelon can increase your risk of developing a blood clot compared with not using one. However, the risk is low (between 9-12 out of 10,000 women) and it decreases after your first year of taking Marvelon for the first time. The risk of developing a blood clot also returns to normal within a few weeks of stopping taking Marvelon. You should discuss your personal situation and familial medical history with the GP as part of the prescription process to be sure that taking Marvelon is a suitable risk for you to take.

Does Marvelon make your breasts grow?

Marvelon changes the hormones in your body which can in some cases have a temporary impact on the size of your breasts. This change usually settles down once your body has adapted to the medication. Taking Marvelon is not a solution if you want bigger breasts.

Does the Marvelon pill help acne?

The combination of hormones in Marvelon has been found in research studies to help acne by reducing the production of sebum, the oily substance which is secreted onto your skin and can cause outbreaks.

Can Marvelon make you depressed or cause mood swings?

Changes in mood and low mood are often linked with taking an oral contraceptive pill but research has not been able to either prove or disprove this link.

Can Marvelon cause changes to your weight?

Women report changes in weight when being on the contraceptive pill but there is no scientific evidence to prove or disprove this.

Does Marvelon pill stop periods?

No, Marvelon is a monophasic 21-day pill which means you take it for 21 days and then have a 7-day break during which you bleed. You can use Marvelon to delay your period by taking the pill back to back without the 7-day break.

Can Marvelon help with painful and heavy periods?

Yes, by regulating the hormones in your body Marvelon can help with painful and heavy periods.

Can Marvelon give you low libido?

Some women report a lower sex drive when on a combined pill such as Marvelon. The oestrogen in the combined pill regulates the testosterone in your body and can reduce spikes which previously generated periods of having a high sex drive. If you are worried that Marvelon has impacted your sex drive speak to your GP who may suggest you try a contraceptive pill with a different combination of hormones.

Who shouldn't take Marvelon?

Marvelon is suitable for many women but there are specific factors which may make it unsuitable for certain women to take a contraceptive that includes both oestrogen and progesterone. In this case the GP may recommend that you try the progesterone-only mini pill.

It is important to tell the prescribing GP if any of these factors apply to you:

  • smoke and are 35 or older
  • stopped smoking less than a year ago and are 35 or older
  • very overweight
  • suspect you might be pregnant
  • breastfeeding
  • take certain medicines
  • have or have had blood clots on a vein (eg, your leg or lungs)
  • have a familial history of blood clots under the age of 45
  • have or have had a stroke
  • have or have had a heart abnormality
  • have or have had severe migraines
  • have or have had breast cancer
  • have or have had disease of the gallbladder or liver
  • have or have had diabetes

Can I take Marvelon if I am taking other medicines?

You should tell the person prescribing Marvelon if you are taking any other medicines or herbal products. Some medicines interact with Marvelon and make it less or more effective. Likewise if you are prescribed a drug while you are taking Marvelon you should tell the prescribing doctor that you are taking a combined oral contraceptive.

Medicines for the treatment of the following conditions may stop Marvelon from working properly:

  • epilepsy
  • tuberculosis
  • HIV infection
  • hepatitis C virus infection
  • other infectious diseases
  • high blood pressure in the blood vessels of the lungs
  • depressive mood

What are the risks from taking Marvelon?

Marvelon is safe to take but there are two risks to consider. In both cases the risk is small but there are conditions which can make your personal risk factor higher so it is really important to discuss your medical history with the doctor when they are prescribing you an oral contraceptive pill.

Blood clots: the oestrogen in Marvelon can cause your blood to clot more easily and blood clots can lead to deep vein thrombosis (clot in your leg), pulmonary embolism (clot in your lung), stroke and heart attack. The risk is low (between 9-12 out of 10,000 women) but it is higher when compared to women who are taking the mini pill (between 5-7 out of 10,000 women) and those not taking any oral contraceptive (2 out of 10,000 women). The risk decreases after your first year of taking Marvelon for the first time and returns to normal within a few weeks of stopping taking Marvelon.

Cancer: research has shown that the combined pill can slightly increase the risk of developing breast and cervical cancer. However 10 years after you stop taking the pill your risk goes back to normal.

Marvelon Reviews

On Trustpilot, customers give the experience of using Superdrug Online Doctor an average rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars with over 16,000 people leaving a review.

On The Low Down users of Marvelon rate it 3 stars out of 5. You can see how people view their moods, weight gain and sex drive while taking Marvelon.

Users on rate the combination of desogestrel and ethinyl estradiol which is used in Marvelon. From over 1000 reviewers, 36% reported a positive effect and 37% reported a negative effect. The average rating was 5.4 out of 10.


Patient Reviews