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You are here : 3-RX.com > Drugs & Medications > Quick Drug Information (DrugNotes) > Desogestrel/Ethinyl Estradiol (Oral)

Desogestrel/Ethinyl Estradiol (By Mouth)

Desogestrel (des-oh-JES-trel), Ethinyl Estradiol (ETH-in-il es-tra-DYE-ole)

Used to prevent pregnancy. This medicine is an oral contraceptive (birth control pill).

Brand Name(s):

Kariva, Mircette, Desogen, Ortho-Cept, Cyclessa, Apri
There may be other brand names for this medicine.

When This Medicine Should Not Be Used:

You should not use this medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to desogestrel or ethinyl estradiol. You should not use this medicine if you are pregnant or if you have liver or heart disease, a blood vessel disorder, unusual vaginal bleeding that has not been checked by a doctor, or cancer of the breast, liver, or uterus. Do not use this medicine if you have ever had a stroke, problems with blood clots, or jaundice (yellow skin or eyes) caused by pregnancy or birth control pills.

How to Use This Medicine:


  • Your doctor will tell you how much of this medicine to take and how often. Do not take more medicine or take it more often than your doctor tells you to.
  • This medicine comes with patient instructions. Read and follow these instructions carefully. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions.
  • Never share your medicine with anyone.

If a dose is missed:

  • This medicine needs to be taken every day on a fixed schedule. If you miss a dose or forget to take your medicine, take it as soon as you can. Then take your next pill at the regular time. This means you may take two pills in one day.
  • If you miss two or more pills in a row, see your patient instructions or call your doctor or pharmacist.
How to Store and Dispose of This Medicine:

  • Store the medicine at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light.
  • Keep all medicine away from children.
Drugs and Foods to Avoid:

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

  • Make sure your doctor knows if you are also using rifampin (Rifadin®, Rifamate®), Lipitor®, acetaminophen (Tylenol®), vitamin C, St. John's Wort, pain or arthritis medicine (such as aspirin, ibuprofen, phenylbutazone, Advil®, Aleve®, Celebrex®, Feldene®, Orudis®, Relafen®, Voltaren®), medicine for seizures (such as phenobarbital, Dilantin®, Tegretol®), antibiotics (such as ampicillin, griseofulvin, tetracycline), medicine to treat fungal infections (such as itraconazole, ketoconazole, Diflucan®, Nizoral®, Sporanox®), or medicines to treat HIV/AIDS (Agenerase®, Crixivan®, Invirase®, Norvir®, Viracept®).
Warnings While Using This Medicine:

  • Make sure your doctor knows if you are breastfeeding, or if you have kidney disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, breast lumps, a history of depression, family history of breast cancer, or have recently been pregnant.
  • This medicine can cause serious side effects such as heart attack or stroke, especially if you have certain health problems, smoke cigarettes, are overweight, are over 40 years old, or plan to use this medicine for several years.
  • Make sure any doctor or dentist who treats you knows that you are using this medicine. You may need to stop using this medicine for a few weeks before and after having surgery, or if you will be on bed-rest or otherwise inactive for a period of time. This medicine may affect the results of certain medical tests.
  • This medicine will not protect you from getting HIV/AIDS or other sexually transmitted diseases. If this is a concern for you, talk with your doctor.
  • Your doctor will need to check your progress at regular visits while you are using this medicine (usually every 6 months to 1 year). Be sure to keep all appointments.
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 face or hands, swelling or tingling in the mouth or throat, tightness in chest, trouble breathing
  • Breast lump
  • Heavy vaginal bleeding or missed or late period
  • Pain in the chest, lower leg (calf), or stomach, sudden shortness of breath
  • Severe or unusual headache(s)
  • Swelling in the hands, feet, or ankles
  • Trouble seeing, double vision, blurry vision, bulging eyeballs
  • Yellow skin or eyes, dark-colored urine, appetite loss, pain in upper stomach

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

  • Light bleeding, spotting, or vaginal discharge between periods
  • Mild nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps
  • Mood changes
If you notice other side effects that you think are caused by this medicine, tell your doctor.

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