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Zelleta is an oral contraceptive medication categorised in a group referred to as mini pills. These types of pills rely completely on the active ingredient called progesterone, or at the very least a synthetic type of it known as desogestrel. The progesterone receptor's synthetic activators are commonly called progestogens. A contraceptive pill with progestogen-only is enough to prevent pregnancy effectively, even if you take them after up to 12 hours following sex.

Benefits of Zelleta

Zelleta is an easy to take contraceptive that doesn't interrupt sex. It works quickly and offers other benefits too.

Because it contains desogestrel Zelleta can prevent an egg ripening and minimise the likelihood of a period. Regulating periods can help manage acne and reduce the effects of PMS by lightening flow and managing hormones that create mood changes.

Lighter periods can also help women struggling with the symptoms of endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome as it reduces the amount of endometrium produced. In the majority of women the dose of desogestrel is high enough to prevent regular periods making it of real benefit to women with monthly period difficulties and long standing conditions affected by menstruation.

Zelleta does not contain oestrogen it can be used by women who are sensitive to oestrogen based contraceptives, women who smoke, women who are breastfeeding and other ailments.


How do I take Zelleta?

Zelleta pills contain 75 micrograms of the synthetic progesterone desogestrel. You need to take just one pill a day to prevent pregnancy and manage periods.

You can take Zelleta with food or water or simply swallow it without a drink - it is small enough to swallow without difficulty. Don't chew or cut Zelleta as you will not receive the full dose and its efficiency will be reduced.

There are 28 pills in each strip of Zelleta labelled with the day of the week. Take the correctly labelled pill at the same time each day following the directional arrows until you reach the end of the packet.

You may have some bleeding when taking Zelleta, but you should always take back-to-back packets without a break. When you finish your 28 day strip of Zelleta, immediately start the next strip.

The combined contraceptive pill is taken for 21 days with a seven-day break, or seven dummy pills, but mini pills like Zelleta are taken without a break. Women who have busy lives or find it difficult to remember the next strip of combined pills may feel more comfortable with Zelleta as taking a pill becomes part of their daily routine.

It can help to take the pill at a time you are not rushed, but whenever you choose to take it, Zelleta should be taken at the same time each day to ensure a continuous flow of hormones.

When to start taking Zelleta

It's easiest to start Zelleta on the first day of your period as it provides immediate contraceptive cover if you continue to take it correctly.

You can start at another point in your cycle, but be sure to use barrier contraception for seven days as well as Zelleta, so it has time to work.

If you are swapping from another form of hormonal contraception, such as combined pill, another mini pill, the vaginal ring or the patch, take your first Zelleta immediately after finishing your current contraception.

You should not have a seven-day break, wait for a period, or take dummy pills, simply continue with Zelleta. There is no need for extra contraception if you start taking Zelleta immediately after finishing a previous form of hormonal contraception.

If you have recently given birth Zelleta can be started 21- 28 days after the birth. If it's later than this you should use extra barrier contraception for seven days.

There is no research to show there's an effect on breastfeeding or developing infants, but you should always consult a doctor before taking Zelleta post birth.

If you've had a miscarriage or abortion, ask your doctor when you can start taking Zelleta.

what to do if you miss a pill

It's important to take Zelleta each day at the same time to ensure continuous contraceptive cover. Zelleta has more leeway than other mini pills as it contains a higher amount of progesterone. Instead of three hours you have a 12 hour window to take your pill.

If you forget your pill, follow these instructions:

  • Less than twelve hours late: Take your pill straight away - no other contraception is required. A missed pill is one that's more than twelve hours late.
  • More than twelve hours late: Zelleta's effectiveness may be reduced. You should take your pill when you remember, even if this means taking two pills in one day. Continue to take the rest of your pills as usual, and use barrier contraception for the next seven days.

If you've missed a pill and you've had sex, its best to take a test to rule out pregnancy. The more pills you miss, the greater your chance of falling pregnant.

Vomiting or diarrhoea

Being sick or having severe diarrhoea may mean your pill is less effective because there wasn't enough time for your body to absorb the hormones.

If you are sick or have severe diarrhoea within three to four hours of taking Zelleta take another pill straight away. If you are not ill following this pill then you still have contraceptive cover.

If you continue to be sick or have diarrhoea keep taking your pills at the correct time and use barrier contraception during the period of sickness and for seven days after recovery.

Diarrhoea can be triggered for many reasons including bugs and viruses, stress, undercooked food, medicines, and some weight loss medications.

What are the side effects associated with Zelleta?

All medications have the potential to cause side effects, but not all women get them. Some side effects are welcome, such as Zelleta's beneficial relief from PMS, endometriosis and acne, but other potential side effects are not so desirable.

The potential side effects of Zelleta are listed in the patient leaflet, but common side effects include mood changes, changes to your menstrual pattern, skin changes such as spots, nausea, breast pain and dizziness.

These mild symptoms often go away after a few months as your body adjusts to the new dose of hormones. Some women find Zelleta benefits outweigh the temporary discomfort of non-serious side effects, but if they persist speak to your doctor who may suggest a different brand of mini pill or another form of contraception.

Some vaginal bleeding may occur with Zelleta. This is not usually a problem as it is often hardly noticeable spotting. There is no need to worry about breakthrough bleeding or spotting on Zelleta, but if it's persistent or heavy, speak to your doctor.

Less common effects can include painful periods, hair loss, difficulties wearing contact lenses.

Few women have a rare allergic reaction to Zelleta. The signs are difficulty breathing, an itchy swollen mouth, tongue and lips, or hives. If you experience an allergic reaction seek immediate medical help.

Blood Clots

It's thought contraceptive pills slightly raise the risk of experiencing a blood clot or breast cancer. This is very rare in healthy women, and mini pills like Zelleta are thought to carry less risk than combined pills with oestrogen, but women who are over 35 and smoke, have diabetes, varicose veins or are obese are at higher risk.

The signs of a blood clot or thrombosis are a pain or swelling in the leg, chest pain, weakness or numbness and sudden changes to your vision. You should check your breasts on regular basis to look for changes such as lumps, dimpling, and pain. Some researchers believe the small increase in breast cancer is due to pill users being more aware of their body changes.

Your doctor will discuss the suitability of Zelleta and the small risk of blood clots and breast cancer before you start taking it.

Bear in mind that women may react differently depending on their health and sensitivities, and some women will experience no side effects at all. If you find Zelleta causes side effects that are unmanageable or worrying speak to your doctor who can suggest a different brand of mini pill.

What interactions should I be aware of with Zelleta?

Zelleta is widely tolerated and suitable for many women, but there are some medicines it should not be taken alongside. This is because Zelleta may decrease its effectiveness, or because the medicine may prevent Zelleta from working properly.

It's important to tell your doctor about any medicines you currently take or have recently taken. This includes over-the-counter therapies as well as prescription medications and recreational drugs.

Medicines that can stop Zelleta from working properly include epilepsy medicines, tuberculosis medicines, HIV medicines, medicines to treat an upset stomach, griseofulvin which is used to treat fungal infections, and the complimentary herbal treatment St John's Wort.

If you are prescribed a course of medication tell your doctor or pharmacist that you are currently taking Zelleta as it may increase its potency and cause side effects.

What are the Zelleta contraindications?

Zelleta is not suitable for all women so tell your doctor about any ill health or conditions you currently have or have experienced in the past.

If you have any of the following you should not take Zelleta:

  • You are allergic to the ingredients
  • You've had a thrombosis or blood clot
  • You have liver disease including jaundice
  • Unexplained vaginal bleeding
  • Sex hormones sensitive cancers such as breast cancer

You may be able to take Zelleta if you have diabetes, you smoke and are over 35, you are obese or overweight, you have epilepsy, high blood pressure or cholasma. You doctor will decide if the benefits of Zelleta outweigh any risk associated with these conditions or lifestyle


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