Desogestrel/ethinyl estradiol (By mouth)

Desogestrel (des-oh-JES-trel), Ethinyl Estradiol (ETH-i-nil es-tra-DYE-ol)

Prevents pregnancy.

Brand Name(s):

Apri, Azurette, Bekyree, Caziant, Cyclessa, Cyred, Cyred EQ, Emoquette, Enskyce, Isibloom, Juleber, Kalliga, Kariva, Mircette, Ortho-Cept

There may be other brand names for this medicine.

When This Medicine Should Not Be Used:

This medicine is not right for everyone. Do not use it if you had an allergic reaction to desogestrel or ethinyl estradiol, or if you are pregnant or have unusual vaginal bleeding that has not been checked by a doctor. Do not use it if you have liver tumors, breast cancer, problems with blood clots, certain heart problems, or diabetes with kidney, eye, nerve, or blood vessel damage. Do not use this medicine if you have ever had jaundice (yellow eyes or skin) caused by pregnancy or birth control pills, or if you are having a surgery that requires bedrest for a long time.

How to Use This Medicine:


  • Your doctor will tell you how much medicine to use. Do not use more than directed.
  • Each brand of birth control pills comes with specific directions. Read and follow the patient instructions that come with your prescribed brand. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions.
  • It is best to take your pill at the same time every day. Birth control pills work best when there is no more than 24 hours between doses.
  • Missed dose:
    • Read and carefully follow the patient instructions on what to do if you miss a dose.
    • Use a second form of birth control for 7 days after you miss a dose.
    • If you miss a pill or change your schedule, you may not have a period that month. Tell your doctor if you miss your period 2 months in a row, because you may be pregnant.
    • You could have light bleeding or spotting if you do not take a pill on time. The more pills you miss, the more likely you are to have bleeding.
  • Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light.

Drugs and Foods to Avoid:

Ask your doctor or pharmacist before using any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.

  • Do not use this medicine together with medicine to treat hepatitis C virus infection, including ombitasvir/paritaprevir/ritonavir, with or without dasabuvir.
  • Some foods and medicines can affect how desogestrel/ethinyl estradiol works. Tell your doctor if you are also using any of the following:
    • Acetaminophen, aprepitant, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), atorvastatin, boceprevir, bosentan, clofibrate, cyclosporine, glipizide, morphine, prednisolone, rosuvastatin, St John's wort, temazepam, theophylline, tizanidine, tolbutamide, torsemide
    • Another birth control pill
    • Medicine to lower cholesterol (including irbesartan, losartan, valsartan)
    • Medicine to treat an infection (including fluconazole, griseofulvin, isoniazid, itraconazole, ketoconazole, rifabutin, rifampicin, rifampin, sulfamethoxazole, voriconazole)
    • Medicine to treat HIV/AIDS (including amprenavir/ritonavir, atazanavir/ritonavir, boceprevir, darunavir/ritonavir, efavirenz, etravirine, fosamprenavir/ritonavir, indinavir, lopinavir/ritonavir, nelfinavir, nevirapine, ritonavir, telaprevir, tipranavir/ritonavir)
    • Medicine to treat seizures (including carbamazepine, felbamate, lamotrigine, oxcarbazepine, phenobarbital, phenytoin, rufinamide, topiramate)
    • NSAID arthritis or pain reliever medicine (including aspirin, diclofenac, ibuprofen, naproxen, piroxicam)
    • Thyroid replacement medicine
  • If you are using colesevelam, take it at least 4 hours before or after using this medicine.
  • Do not eat grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice while you are using this medicine.

Warnings While Using This Medicine:

  • It is not safe to take this medicine during pregnancy. It could harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor right away if you become pregnant.
  • Tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding, or if you had a baby within 4 to 6 weeks before you start using this medicine. Tell your doctor if you have kidney disease, diabetes, epilepsy, migraine headaches, heart or blood vessel disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, a family history of breast cancer, or a personal history of cervical cancer, or depression. Tell your doctor if you smoke cigarettes.
  • This medicine may cause the following problems:
    • Increased risk of heart attack, stroke, or blood clots (which is more likely when you first start taking birth control pills or when starting again after not using them for at least a month)
    • Possible increased risk of breast or cervical cancer
    • Liver problems (including liver cancer or tumors)
    • Eye or vision problems
    • Gallbladder disease
    • High cholesterol in the blood
    • High blood pressure
    • Increased risk of ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy outside the uterus)
  • This medicine will not protect you from HIV/AIDS or other sexually transmitted infections.
  • Tell any doctor or dentist who treats you that you are using this medicine. You may need to stop using this medicine several days before you have surgery or medical tests.
  • Tell any doctor or dentist who treats you that you are using this medicine. This medicine may affect certain medical test results.
  • Your doctor will check your progress and the effects of this medicine at regular visits. Keep all appointments.
  • Keep all medicine out of the reach of children. Never share your medicine with anyone.

Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine:

Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these side effects:

  • Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in your face or hands, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing
  • Breast changes or lumps
  • Chest pain that may spread, unusual sweating, fainting
  • Dark urine or pale stools, loss of appetite, yellow skin or eyes
  • Heavy vaginal bleeding, irregular or missed menstrual period
  • Numbness or weakness on one side of your body, pain in your lower leg (calf), sudden or severe headache, problems with vision, speech, or walking
  • Rapid weight gain, swelling in your hands, ankles, or feet
  • Sudden and severe stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, lightheadedness
  • Trouble breathing, coughing up blood
  • Vision loss, double vision

If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:

  • Darkening of the skin, especially on the face
  • Depression, mood changes
  • Headache
  • Vaginal spotting or light bleeding between periods

If you notice other side effects that you think are caused by this medicine, tell your doctor

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088

Last Updated: 11/6/2020

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