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pack of 3x21 Mercilon contraceptive pill

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Mercilon

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pack of 3x21 Mercilon contraceptive pill

Mercilon is a low-dose combined oral contraceptive pill that is 99% effective in preventing pregnancy when taken correctly. 

It is called a ‘combined contraceptive’ because it contains 2 types of artificial female sex hormones: oestrogen and progestogen. 

Order Mercilon online using a straightforward questionnaire, so long as you are female and aged between 16 and 50. One of our doctors will review the order and approve appropriate treatment for you.

We will then deliver your pills, or you can pick them up in any Superdrug branch.

Last reviewed: 04/06/2020 by Dr Simran Deo

Start Order

To place an order, fill in a brief questionnaire. One of our doctors will review your order and prescribe a suitable treatment.


3 x 21 tablets £25
6 x 21 tablets £35

In a hurry? Choose Click and Collect and pick up your order after just 4 hours from a Superdrug Pharmacy.

Delivery options

Delivery method Cost Estimated delivery

You will choose your delivery option at the checkout. Delivery options may vary depending on the pack size and dosage chosen.

About Mercilon

Mercilon works like other combined contraceptive pills to prevent pregnancy. The 2 hormones in the combined pill:

  • stop your ovaries from releasing an egg (ovulation) every month
  • thicken the mucus in your cervix lining the neck of the womb (uterus), making it more difficult for a sperm to reach an egg
  • thin the lining of the womb (endometrium), making it difficult for a fertilised egg to attach and grow

If it is taken at the same time every day, Mercilon is over 99% effective. Although this may go down to 91% effectiveness if you:

  • forget to take it
  • forget to restart the pill pack at the correct time
  • happen to be sick (vomit) or have diarrhoea
  • take other medicines that affect Mercilon

Mercilon comes in strips of 21 pills, each marked with a day of the week. To take Mercilon you should:

  • take the 1st pill in the pack on the 1st day of your period
  • take your pill at the same time each day 
  • take the pill marked with the correct day of the week 
  • take a 7 day break before you start the next pack

During the 7 day break, you’ll get what is called a ‘withdrawal bleed’ which is like a period

You do not need to use extra contraception during the 7 day break. But you should make sure you start the next strip of pills on time to continue being protected from pregnancy. 

To read more about how to take Mercilon, see the patient information leaflet.

What should I do if I miss a pill?

If you miss a pill and remember within 24 hours, you should take it and take the next pill at the usual time. You will still be protected from getting pregnant.

If you forget to take your pill for more than 24 hours, you may be at risk of getting pregnant. Follow our doctor’s guidance on what to do, or check in the patient information leaflet.

Other ways to take Mercilon

There are other ways you can take Mercilon which are safe, but not mentioned in the leaflet. You can:

  • take 1 pill a day for 9 weeks then no pills for the next 7 days, or you can take a 4 day break
  • take 1 pill a day every day with no break

Talk to your doctor or a Superdrug Online Doctor to discuss the best way for you to take Mercilon. 

If you take Mercilon during the 1st 5 days of your period you are protected from pregnancy immediately. 

If you start taking Mercilon any time after day 5 of your period, you’re only protected once you have taken it every day for 7 days in a row. So, during these first 7 days of taking Mercilon, you will need to use condoms to protect against pregnancy.

Mercilon can cause side effects, though they do not affect everyone.

  • Most will reduce after 3 months, as your body readjusts to the pill
  • If side effects do not reduce after 3 months or if they become worse of difficult to deal with, you must talk to your doctor
  • Your doctor will look at the side effects to rule out other causes, before telling you about other contraceptive options

Common side effects:

  • nausea
  • breast pain
  • vaginal thrush infection
  • vaginal discharge
  • mood changes
  • headache
  • migraine
  • changes in your period

Uncommon side effects:

  • hair loss
  • vomiting
  • diarrhoea
  • changes in libido
  • changes in blood pressure
  • breast enlargement 
  • acne 
  • eczema
  • fluid retention
  • changes in weight to less or more

Rare side effects:

  • asthma
  • blood clots
  • skin changes
  • hypersensitivity
  • reduced hearing
  • nipple discharge 

Will I gain weight on Mercilon? 

You will find weight gain listed as a common side effect in the patient information leaflet, although in fact some women lose weight while taking Mercilon. At the moment there is no evidence to show a connection between weight gain and Mercilon.

Mercilon may not be suitable for you if you:

  • are a smoker and over the age of 35

Or if you have/have had

  • high blood pressure 
  • high levels of cholesterol
  • history of breast cancer (but Mercilon can be used after 5 years if there's no evidence of disease and non-hormonal methods are unacceptable)
  • a raised BMI 
  • a history of migraines with aura
  • heart attack or stroke
  • unexplained vagina bleeding a previous history or family history of blood clots
  • blood clots in your veins or artery
  • uncontrolled diabetes
  • kidney or liver problems
  • cervical cancer
  • Crohn's disease or inflammatory bowel disease
  • depression
  • sickle cell anaemia
  • lupus
  • varicose veins
  • epilepsy

Mercilon is not suitable if you are:

  • pregnant, or think you might be
  • allergic to any of the ingredients in Mercilon

A progesterone-only (mini pill) may be more suitable for you if you have any of these conditions. Always discuss any conditions you have with the doctor who is prescribing you Mercilon, and they’ll be able to help you choose a suitable form of contraception. 

Some medicines may stop Mercilon from working properly. These include:

  • blood pressure medication
  • anti-epileptics
  • anti-virals to treat HIV or Hepatitis C
  • anti-fungals  
  • antibiotics to treat tuberculosis (TB)
  • immunosuppressants for arthritis
  • herbal treatments like St John’s wort

Mercilon may also stop other medications from working properly – tell your doctor about anything you’re taking, including over the counter preparations and herbal remedies. For more detail, see the patient information leaflet.

Mercilon may increase your chances of developing:

  • blood clots – a blood clot is slightly more likely while you are taking this pill, because of the levels of oestrogens in Mercilon. These can increase clotting factors in the blood. Common symptoms to look for are sharp chest pains, coughing up blood, swollen and painful legs, and a sudden rapid heartbeat or breathing
  • breast cancer – combined contraceptive pills contain oestrogen, which can increase how fast breast cells grow. This can lead to an increased risk of breast cancer. It's always important to check for breast lumps regularly whether you are on a contraceptive pill or not, and to report any you find to your doctor
  • cervical cancer – oestrogen in the combined contraceptive pill can cause certain cancer-promoting genes to become more active, and can therefore lead to an increased risk of cervical cancer. Whether you are on a contraceptive or not you must have regular cervical screenings. The NHS offers cervical screening for women aged 25 to 64, to help pick up any unusual cell changes in your cervix

Talk about possible risks with your doctor before taking the combined pill.

Can I drink alcohol on Mercilon?

Alcohol does not make Mercilon less effective in preventing pregnancy, and it also does not increase any side effects you may have from taking the pill.

For health reasons though, it is always best to stay within the recommended units when drinking. 

Can I take painkillers on Mercilon?

You can take over-the-counter painkillers like paracetamol and ibuprofen while you are taking Mercilon. These painkillers will not make Mercilon work less effectively to prevent pregnancy, and they will not increase any possible side effects of the pill.

Can I take the morning after pill on Mercilon?

Morning after pills such as ellaOne and Levonelle can make Mercilon less effective. 

If you take the ellaOne emergency contraceptive, you should wait for 5 days after taking it before re-starting Mercilon. You should use an additional form of contraception like condoms for at least 12 days after taking ellaOne.

If you take the Levonelle emergency contraceptive, you can restart Mercilon straight away, but you must use an additional form of contraception like condoms for at least 7 days afterwards.

Can I take Mercilon if I’m breastfeeding?

You should not take Mercilon while you are breastfeeding, as taking the pill may be unsafe for your baby. Talk to your doctor about other forms of contraception you can take while breastfeeding, which include barrier methods such as condoms.

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Contraception (2018) NHS [accessed 22 April 2020]

Contraception – combined hormonal methods (2019) NICE [accessed 22 April 2020]

Contraceptives, hormonal (2019) NICE [accessed 22 April 2020]

Contraception – progesterone only methods (2019) NICE [accessed 22 April 2020]

How effective is contraception at preventing pregnancy? (2017) NHS [accessed 04 August 2020]

Media hype blood clot risk of birth control pills (2014) NHS [accessed 20 March 2020]

Mercilon (ethinylestradiol and desogestrel): a contraceptive pill (2018) netdoctor [accessed 04 August 2020]

Mini Pill UCL [accessed 04 August 2020] 

Oral contraceptive pill (birth control pill) hormonal activity (2019) Medscape [accessed 04 August 2020]