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Synphase

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Synphase is a type of combined oral contraceptive pill, and when taken correctly it is over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. It contains two synthetic (man made) female hormones called ethinylestradiol and norethisterone.

Unlike most other contraceptive pills, the hormone levels in Synphase change every week the same way the hormones in a normal menstrual cycle do. This means it can cause less side effects than other pills.

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3 Month Course £20.00
6 Month Course £25.00

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About Synphase Pill
Synphase is a combined oral contraceptive pill taken by women to prevent pregnancy, but it can also be taken to treat heavy or painful periods. It contains two man made versions of the hormones oestrogen (ethinylestradiol) and progesterone (norethisterone).

Synphase is a triphasic pill which means there are 3 different tablets in each pack that contain varying amounts of hormones. For ease, the 3 types are colour coded and must be taken in a specific order.

Each strip contains:
  • 7 blue tablets containing 500 micrograms of norethisterone and 35 micrograms of ethinylestradiol
  • 9 white tablets containing 1 milligram of norethisterone and 35 micrograms of ethinylestradiol
  • 5 blue tablets containing 500 micrograms of norethisterone and 35 micrograms of ethinylestradiol
You can order Synphase online with Superdrug Online Doctor. The process is easy and completely confidential. You can order Synphase even if you’ve never taken it before.

To order Synphase with Superdrug Online Doctor, simply: 
  • Complete our short online medical assessment.
  • One of our medical doctors will review your answers and make sure it is safe and appropriate for you to take Synphase.
  • If approved, the medication is delivered to an address to your choice, or will become available for collection from your local Superdrug. (Please note: Click and Collect locations may be limited due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic). 
All our products are sent in unmarked packaging, ensuring the service is completely confidential.

Can you get Synphase over the counter?

No, Synphase is a prescription-only medication, so you will need a prescription from a doctor before you can get it from a pharmacy.

Can you get Synphase on the NHS?

To get Synphase for free on the NHS, you will need to book an appointment with your GP or with an NHS sexual health clinic. Whether they will be able to prescribe it to you will depend on your local guidelines. If they are unable to prescribe Synphase, it’s likely you’ll be recommended another contraceptive pill instead.
Synphase is safe for many women to take, but you should not take it without a prescription. If you have been prescribed it by a medical doctor, then they have assessed it is safe for you to take Synphase. There are possible side effects and your doctor will explain these to you. There is no evidence to suggest that Synphase is any less safe than other combined contraceptive pills.
Synphase contains man made versions of the hormones oestrogen (ethinylestradiol) and progesterone (norethisterone), which work in three ways to prevent pregnancy:
  1. Prevents the release of an egg from the ovaries (ovulation)
  2. Thickens the fluid at the neck of the womb (cervix), making it difficult for a sperm to reach an egg and fertilise it in the womb.
  3. Stops the lining of the womb from thickening enough to allow an egg to implant and develop.

How long does Synphase take to work?

If you begin taking Synphase on days 1 to 5 of your menstrual cycle, then it will start working straight away and you’ll be protected from pregnancy immediately. Day 1 of your cycle is the day your period starts. 

If you take Synphase after day 5 of your cycle, then you will not be protected from pregnancy straight away and will need to use another form of contraception for 7 days, such as condoms. 

How effective is Synphase?

When taken correctly, Synphase is over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. However, this is likely to be closer to 91% because of factors such as missing pills, being sick (vomiting), diarrhoea, and taking other medications which lower the effectiveness of Synphase.
Synphase is available in strips of 21 tablets. It is a triphasic pill which means there are different pills in each pack with different hormone levels. There are two types which are colour coded. Triphasic pills are designed to closely follow the natural menstrual cycle, causing less mid-cycle bleeding than other pills.

Each pack contains:
  • 7 blue pills
  • 9 white pills
  • 5 more blue pills
You will need to take one tablet every day, with a glass of water if necessary.

When you start your first strip:
  • Firstly, take the pill marked ‘start here’ on the first day of your bleed. 
  • Take the pill at the same time every day, at a time that suits you or when you are most likely to remember to take it. 
  • Take a tablet every day, in the correct order, until you finish the strip.
  • Once you have taken all 21 tablets in the blister strip, stop taking the pill for 7 days. You will probably have a bleed during these 7 days, like your period. 
  • After these 7 days, start the next strip, even if you are still bleeding. You will always start the next strip on the same day of the week.
  • You are protected from pregnancy during the 7 day pill break if you start your next strip on time. 

When should I start taking Synphase?

You can start taking Synphase at any time during your menstrual cycle, but when you start taking it will affect how quickly you are protected from pregnancy. If you start taking Synphase within the first 5 days of your cycle, then you will be protected from pregnancy straight away. If you take Synphase for the first time after day 5, then you will need to use extra contraception like condoms for 7 days. 

What happens if you miss a Synphase pill?

If you forget to take your Synphase pill: 
  • Take it as soon as you remember even if it means taking 2 pills in the same day. Take your next one at your normal time.
  • If you are over 12 hours late taking one or more of your pills, there is a chance you may not be protected from pregnancy. Take the last missed pill as soon as you remember and then carry on taking the rest as normal. Because you may not be protected from pregnancy for the next 7 days, you should either avoid having sex or use an extra method of contraception such as a condom. If you have had unprotected sex since your missed pill, you will need to use emergency contraception.
  • If there are less than 7 pills left in your blister strip after you have missed a pill, you should complete the strip and then start the next strip straight away without a 7 day break.

Can I take Synphase to delay my period?

Yes, you can use Synphase to delay your period because it is a combined pill and contains oestrogen. If you take 2 strips of Synphase back to back without your 7 day break, then you will skip your monthly bleed. 

Can I use Synphase as emergency contraception?

Synphase cannot be used as emergency contraception.
As with all medicines, Synphase can cause side effects, especially during the first 3 months of taking it.

Not everyone will have them, but side effects can include:
  • changes in appetite
  • changes in sex drive
  • changes in the way your body processes sugars, fats, and vitamins
  • depression
  • headaches
  • high blood pressure
  • irregular vaginal bleeding
  • nausea (feeling sick)
  • swollen or sore breasts
  • upset stomach
  • weight gain

What should I do if I think I’m getting Synphase side effects?

During the first 3 months of taking Synphase, it is common to have side effects because your body is adjusting to the hormonal changes. They should become more manageable after this time or go away completely after 3 months.

If you find the side effects difficult to cope with or they do not go away, you should speak to your doctor. They may suggest that you stop taking Synphase and may prescribe you a different pill that causes less side effects. If you think you have a serious or worrying side effect, you should see your doctor immediately.

Does Synphase make your breasts grow?

Swollen or sore breasts is listed as a potential side effect of taking Synphase, but there is no evidence that Synphase causes your breasts to grow.

Does Synphase increase your risk of blood clots?

The pill is linked with an increased risk of developing a blood clot, particularly during the first year of taking it. Approximately, 25 out of 100,000 women who take the pill will have a blood clot in a year. 

Does the Synphase pill help acne?

Research shows that combined oral contraceptive pills, such as Synphase, may help to reduce acne.

Can Synphase make you depressed?

Depression is a potential side effect of taking Synphase. This is because the pill causes changes in your hormonal balance, which can have an effect on your mood.

Can Synphase cause changes to your weight?

Weight gain is listed as a potential side effect of taking Synphase. However, a woman’s weight naturally fluctuates during her menstrual cycle because of factors such as water retention.

Does the Synphase pill stop periods?

When you take Synphase you will have a 7 day pill break. During this break, you will have a withdrawal bleed like your period. If you take 2 strips back to back, then you will stop the withdrawal bleed from occurring.

Can Synphase cause mood swings?

Yes, Synphase can cause changes to your mood. This is because the pill causes changes in your hormonal balance, which can have an effect on your mood.

Can Synphase give you low libido?

Yes, changes in sex drive are listed as a potential side effect of taking Synphase. This is because the hormones estrogen and progesterone affect sexual desire and arousal, and taking hormonal contraception affects your hormonal balance.
Synphase isn’t suitable for all women. If you are unable to take oestrogen, then you may need to try the mini-pill, also known as the progesterone-only pill, or a different form of contraception. Mini pills do not contain oestrogen and may be tolerated by women who are unable to take this hormone.

Drug warnings

You shouldn’t take Synphase if the following apply to you, as you will be at a higher risk of a blood clot, and there will be a safer alternative form of contraception.

Do not take Synphase if you:
  • smoke, especially over the age of 35
  • suffer from certain types of migraines
  • have a high BMI 
Do not take Synphase if you are allergic to any of its ingredients, think you may be pregnant, or if you have (or have had): 
  • a family history of blood clotting problems
  • a history of blood clots in the legs, veins, lungs, brain or anywhere else in the body
  • a heart attack or stroke
  • angina
  • high fat levels in your blood, known as hyperlipidaemia
  • breast or genital cancer
  • pruritus, jaundice for an unknown cause during pregnancy
  • pemphigoid gestationis
  • severe chronic liver disease
  • vaginal bleeding which your doctor was unable to identify a cause for
  • migraines with aura, or certain other types (check with your doctor)
  • hepatitis C

Drug Interactions

The following medications are known to affect the effectiveness of Synphase and can stop it from working properly.

You should tell your doctor if you are taking:
  • some epilepsy medications
  • some antibiotics
  • phenobarbital (a sedative)
  • medication used to treat HIV infection and AIDS
  • Griseofulvin (used to treat fungal infections)
  • Modafinil
  • St. John’s wort (a herbal remedy)
  • any other medications

Synphase risks

Synphase is associated with an increased risk of:
  • blood clots
  • depression
  • breast cancer
  • cervical cancer
  • liver cancer

Can I drink while taking Synphase?

Yes, you can drink alcohol while taking Synphase. Alcohol does not interact with the pill, and will not make Synphase less effective at stopping pregnancy.

Can I take painkillers when taking Synphase?

Yes, you can take over the counter painkillers like paracetamol and ibuprofen while taking Synphase. Most over the counter painkillers do not interact with the pill.

Can I take Synphase when I’m breastfeeding?

You should speak to your doctor before taking Synphase while breastfeeding. It is not recommended that you take Synphase while breastfeeding and they may suggest an alternative contraceptive.

Testosterone and Sexual Desire. (2009) Reviews in Obstetrics and Gynaecology [Accessed 03 May 2021]

Weight Gain on the Combined Pill – Is It Real? (2000) Human Reproduction Update [Accessed 03 May 2021]

Which Birth Control Pills Can Help Reduce Acne? (2013) Informed Health [Accessed 03 May 2021]

About Online Doctor

We're a service that helps you order treatments online from UK-registered doctors with free, discreet, to-your-door deliveries.

See our About Us page to learn more.

Reviewed by: Dr Louisa Draper in line with the Superdrug Online Editorial Process.

GMC no. 6149137

Dr Draper studied at the University of Oxford and finished her training to become a doctor at University College London, with a special interest in innovation in medicine, online and digital medicine, improving access to healthcare and reducing inequalities in health and well-being.

Last reviewed on: 13/07/21