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, Desogen, Emoquette, Enskyce, Juleber, Kariva, Kimidess, Mircette, Ortho-Cept, Pimtrea

When This Medicine Should Not Be Used

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. Call your doctor if you have any questions. Use a second form of birth control for 7 days after you miss a dose.
  • 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.

  • Some foods and medicines can affect how birth control pills work. Tell your doctor if you are also using any of the following:
    • Acetaminophen, aprepitant, ascorbic acid, aspirin, atorvastatin, boceprevir, bosentan, clofibrate, colesevelam, cyclosporine, morphine, prednisolone, rifabutin, rifampicin, rosuvastatin, St John's wort, telaprevir, temazepam, theophylline, tizanidine
    • Medicine to treat an infection, including fluconazole, ketoconazole, itraconazole, voriconazole
    • Medicine to treat HIV/AIDS
    • Medicine to treat seizures
    • Thyroid replacement 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 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, depression, or jaundice during pregnancy. Tell your doctor if you smoke cigarettes.
  • This medicine may cause the following problems:
    • Higher risk of heart attack, stroke, or blood clots (blood clots 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 cancer or tumors
    • Vision changes
    • Gallbladder disease
    • High blood pressure
  • You may need to stop using this medicine for a few weeks before and after you have surgery, because of the risk of blood clots.
  • 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. This medicine may affect certain medical test results.
  • Your doctor will check the effects of this medicine at regular visits. He may also want to monitor your blood pressure while you take this medicine. 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
  • Chest pain that may spread, unusual sweating, nausea, fainting
  • Dark urine or pale stools, loss of appetite, stomach pain, 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
  • Trouble breathing or 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

Version Info

  • Last reviewed on 1/27/2017

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