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When used correctly, the Marvelon pill is over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. It’s also helpful for treating acne.

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This page was medically reviewed by Dr Daniel Atkinson, GP Clinical Lead on August 02, 2022. Next review due on August 01, 2024.

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What type of pill is Marvelon?

Marvelon is a birth control pill that combines two hormones, which is why it’s called a ‘combined oral contraceptive pill’ or ‘COCP.’ It is primarily prescribed to prevent pregnancy but it’s also used to help with acne and to regulate periods.

How does Marvelon work?

Marvelon works in three ways to protect you from becoming pregnant.

The birth control pill affects ovulation. Ovulation is when an egg is released from the ovary. The pill might stop ovulation completely but it’s not a guarantee.

Marvelon has an effect on the mucus in your cervix too. When you’re using the pill, it thickens the mucus so it’s harder for sperm to get through, and then reach an egg.

The hormones in Marvelon also impact the uterine lining. This lining, when you aren’t using hormonal birth control, builds up naturally over the month. When the lining comes away, this is when you have your period. But when you’re using Marvelon birth control pills, this lining doesn’t build up as normal. As a result, your lining is much thinner and your bleed tends to be a lot lighter than it normally would be.

How effective is Marvelon?

If you use it exactly as instructed, Marvelon is over 99% effective. This means that fewer than one in 100 women using it over a whole year will get pregnant.

The effectiveness of Marvelon will drop when the pill is taken typically like if you missed to take it or there was a delay in taking it. In such a case, its effectiveness drops to around 91% (so nine in 100 women per year using the pill typically will get pregnant).

The best way to make sure Marvelon works as well as possible is to follow the instructions as closely as you can.

How long does it take Marvelon to become effective?

When you first start taking Marvelon as your method of birth control, it can take around seven days for the pill to become effective (unless you take it on day 1 of your period).

So when you first start taking Marvelon, you should use another method of birth control whenever you have sex. This shouldn’t be another hormonal method (like the patch or the ring) because there are specific amounts of hormones in each product that make it safe to use.

Using multiple methods and having more hormones in your system can have a harmful impact on your health. Instead, use condoms or a diaphragm whenever you have sex.

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How do I take Marvelon?

Marvelon needs to be taken at the same time each day to make it as effective as possible. You can take it with food if you like, but it isn’t necessary.

You might want to set a reminder or alarm to remember to take Marvelon at the same time each day.

When you first start taking Marvelon, you should use a back-up birth control method (like condoms or a diaphragm) for the first seven days, until your body becomes used to Marvelon and it becomes effective.

When can I start taking Marvelon?

When you start using Marvelon, you can either take it on the first day of your period and be protected against pregnancy right away; or start on another day of the month, but use condoms for the first seven days of use.

If you’re switching from another pill, you can start Marvelon the day after your last pill in your previous pack.

What happens if I miss a pill?

If more than 12 hours have passed since you missed a pill, or if you miss more than one pill, take the pill you missed most recently immediately. Leave any pills you missed earlier than this in the strip. And take any pills that follow as normal (this may mean taking two pills in one day). Use condoms or another back-up birth control when you have sex for a week to make sure you’re as protected as possible.

You should also check to see how many pills are left in your strip. If there are less than seven pills remaining, use additional protection for the next seven days. When you get to the end of your strip, start the next strip the following day without taking a break. If you don’t get a withdrawal bleed once you’ve finished the second strip, take a pregnancy test before you start the next strip.

If you miss one or more pills from week one of your strip and you had sex during that week, you may be pregnant. You should get in touch with your clinician or pharmacist prescriber as soon as possible so you can discuss what to do next.

If you find that there are seven or more pills left in your strip, you should use additional protection for the next seven days. Once you’ve finished your strip, take your seven-day break as normal before starting the next strip. If you’ve missed one or more pills during the first week of your strip (days 1 to 7) and you had sex during that week, you may be pregnant. You should get in touch with your clinician or pharmacist prescriber as soon as you can to see if you need to use emergency contraception.

If you miss any pills in a strip, and you don’t bleed during your first pill-free break, you could be pregnant. You should contact your clinician or perform a pregnancy test. And if you start a new strip of pills late, or make your ‘week off’ more than seven days, you may not be protected from pregnancy either.

What if I’m sick when taking Marvelon?

If you experience vomiting or diarrhoea while taking your pill, it could impact how effective it is. This is because your body doesn’t have the opportunity to absorb the pill properly. Just use a back-up contraceptive method like condoms until you’re feeling better.

Medically reviewed by
Dr Daniel Atkinson
GP Clinical Lead
on August 02, 2022.
Meet Daniel  
This page was medically reviewed by Dr Daniel Atkinson, GP Clinical Lead on August 02, 2022. Next review due on August 01, 2024.

How we source info.

When we present you with stats, data, opinion or a consensus, we’ll tell you where this came from. And we’ll only present data as clinically reliable if it’s come from a reputable source, such as a state or government-funded health body, a peer-reviewed medical journal, or a recognised analytics or data body. Read more in our editorial policy.

FAQ: Marvelon

Have something specific you want to know about Marvelon? Search our info below, or ask our experts a question if you can’t find what you’re looking for.

What other pills can I switch to from Marvelon?

There are lots of choices. It really depends on what you want out of a pill. Most combined birth control pills have the same level of protection when taken correctly. The main difference is how well they control other symptoms.

You may be less likely to get heavy periods or breast fullness on pills using a different type of progestogen, like Levlen, Microgynon or Nordette. But for some women, they might not be as good at controlling acne and be more likely to affect your sex drive than Marvelon.

Women who get migraines or are at a higher risk of blood clots for any reason are normally advised against the combined pill. The progestogen-only pill is safer in these cases.

So really, it’s about finding the right pill for you.

Can I take Marvelon for acne?

Marvelon is primarily a birth control pill. But some women do find it helpful for acne. It’s also less likely than some other pills to affect your sex drive, or cause vaginal dryness, headaches or fuller breasts.

It’s also in the middle of the range for causing progestogenic or oestrogenic side effects, so many women will find it gives them a good balance for controlling menstrual symptoms like heavy bleeding during periods, or water retention.

You shouldn’t take Marvelon solely for acne, but if you’re looking for a birth control pill that helps to control acne as an added benefit, Marvelon may be useful.

Can Marvelon be used as Plan B?

No. EllaOne and levonorgestrel pills are types of emergency contraception, sometimes also called the “morning-after pill.” Think of birth control pills like Marvelon as your Plan A. When taken as directed every day, without missing any pills, Marvelon is more than 99% effective at preventing pregnancy.

If you do miss one or more pills, or if you are worried about being fully protected, we recommend using a back-up method of birth control when you have sex, like condoms or a diaphragm. If you think you might be pregnant, take a pregnancy test and get in touch with our clinician.

Can any woman take Marvelon?

No, it’s not safe for all women to use Marvelon. It’s not suitable for women who smoke, because of the increased chances of developing blood clots.

Marvelon most likely isn’t suitable for women who are over 35. If you are over this age, we can recommend a more suitable pill instead.

You should tell us about any pre-existing conditions, especially if you have:

  • Diabetes

  • Abnormal liver function

  • Vascular heart disease

  • Breast cancer (or you have had breast cancer)

  • Blood clots

Marvelon isn’t safe to use if you might be pregnant or are breastfeeding, and if you are having major surgery that will lead to periods of immobilisation, let us know.

What should I do if I get side effects when taking Marvelon?

If you get mild side effects, these can sometimes go away after a few weeks. But if you find that side effects persist, or cause you discomfort, tell us. We’ll normally be able to suggest a different pill that is less likely to have these effects.

If you develop serious side effects, you should go to hospital as soon as possible.

Can you take Marvelon when you’re breastfeeding?

No, Marvelon can impact the production and flow of your breastmilk. It could pass over to your baby too. There are other contraceptive options out there that are better for breastfeeding mothers.

If you want to use Marvelon after having a baby, you might have to wait a few weeks before it’s safe to use. You’ll need to be checked over by your doctor, especially as the chances of blood clots after having a baby are high.

Do you need a prescription for Marvelon?

Yes, you cannot buy hormonal birth control over the counter because it’s not safe for all women to use. It’s important to see a medical professional before you start using birth control so they can check that it’s a good option for you, and to make you aware of any potential risks of using it.

Why should I buy Marvelon with Treated?

Getting your birth control pill is simple with our online consultation. Based on your health and what you’re looking for, we’ll suggest some options for you. Then you can choose which treatment you want to go with.

You can select how much medication you get and how often it’s delivered. We’ll ship your pill when you need it, every three, six or 12 months. You also have the power to change, pause or skip deliveries any time you like.

We’ll catch up with you regularly to see how your treatment is going. And if there’s anything you aren’t sure about, you can ask our clinicians a question any time you like.
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Our average rating based on 3254 reviews.