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Cilest is a combined oral contraceptive pill, which contains two synthetic hormones.

Please note: Cilest combined oral contraceptive has now been discontinued. If you normally buy Cilest but are looking for an equivalent combined contraceptive pill, Cilique is an alternative which is available from our UK-based online pharmacy.

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PLEASE NOTE: This treatment is not available through our online pharmacy service. This page is for information only. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms related to the condition(s) this medication treats, we strongly recommend that you see your GP in person.

This content was reviewed by a clinician on

10 March 2022
dr daniel

Dr Daniel Atkinson

(GP Clinical Lead - GMC No. 4624794) 10 March 2022
Product information

Cilest is a form of contraceptive medication. It is a combined pill, which means that it contains two synthetic hormones which work to prevent pregnancy. The product is marketed by Janssen and is one of the most popular medicines of its kind. One pack will contain either three or six strips of 21 tablets; a strip comprises a month’s supply.

  1. Manufactured by Janssen
  2. Widely-used contraceptive 
  3. 99% effective when used correctly

To understand how Cilest works, it is first important to understand how pregnancy begins. Ovulation is the process whereby the ovary in a woman’s body produces and releases an egg, ready to be fertilised by a man’s sperm. Conception occurs when a sperm reaches and impregnates one of these eggs. Once this fertilisation has taken place, the egg travels along the fallopian tubes to the uterus, where it attaches to the uterine wall (endometrium). This phase is called implantation. The egg then develops into an embryo and starts to grow.

The release of an egg is regulated by a hormone called progesterone, while the conditions of the uterine wall are managed by the hormone oestrogen. When fertilisation does not take place, the egg simply breaks up once it reaches the uterus, and the lining of the endometrium is shed. This results in a period (menstrual bleeding).

The functioning agents in Cilest are synthetic hormones, called ethinylestradiol and norgestimate. They mimic the function of oestrogen and progesterone respectively. When used in contraception, their presence makes the body think that ovulation has already occurred, which then stops the ovary from releasing an egg. They also alter conditions along the uterine wall, which makes it harder for a fertilised egg to implant there. Furthermore, they work to increase the density of vaginal fluid, and this makes it more difficult for sperm to move around inside the womb.

The combined pill is a choice many women opt for, because it is easy to administer (a one-a-day tablet) and has a high success rate when properly applied. When choosing your treatment however, it is important to ensure you get the one which works best for you and your body. You should check with your doctor or family planning nurse that it is suitable for you before ordering it online.

We understand that not everyone has time to visit their doctor in person to renew their regular prescription, which is why we offer a simple remote consultation service which allows you to do so. At Treated.com, our doctors will review your order after you have submitted it to them, and issue a prescription for your treatment once approved. Following confirmation, our dispensing pharmacy will then package your medicine and send it to you. All orders are delivered by next-day tracked courier, so you don’t have to worry about your item getting lost, or taking days to arrive.

Please be aware that Cilest has now been discontinued and will soon no longer be available to purchase from any UK pharmacy. If you want to buy or renew your prescription pill online, we do offer an alternative. Cilique contains the same active ingredients as Cilest, is available in the same dosage and is manufactured by the same pharmaceutical company, Jannsen. 

Page last reviewed:  10/03/2022


While no contraceptive pill is 100% guaranteed to prevent pregnancy, taking your product as directed by your prescriber will help to ensure it functions properly. Always read the patient information leaflet fully prior to first use.

  1. Take one Cilest pill a day for 21 consecutive days.
  2. Ensure you take it at the same time each day.
  3. Designated days will be marked on the blister pack. Use these as a guide.
  4. Swallow tablets whole with water.
  5. For the following 7 days, do not take Cilest.
  6. After this, begin the course again from the start.
  7. Ensure you are not pregnant before taking Cilest.
  8. If you miss a pill, refer to the instructions provided in the leaflet.

These directions are only intended as a guide. More detailed information can be found in the leaflet provided. Ask your doctor if you are still unsure.

Page last reviewed:  10/03/2022
Side effects & Warnings

Side effects

Not everyone will experience side effects when using this medicine. However, it is important to be aware of the side effects Cilest may cause, so that you can seek medical attention if you notice anything unusual or become concerned.

Very common (1 in 10 people or more):
Headache, nausea and vomiting, diarrhoea, painful or irregular periods.

Common (1 in 10 people or less):
Swelling of the hands, ankles or feet, migraine, depression, mood changes, dizziness, insomnia, constipation, acne, skin rash, breast pain, urinary tract infections, thrush, vaginal discharge, weight gain, feelings of weakness, or muscle pain.

Uncommon (1 in 100 people or less):
Dry eyes, sight problems, loss of libido, fluctuations in weight, hair loss, anxiety, numbness, itchiness, palpitations, flushing, vaginal dryness or ovarian cysts.

Rare (1 in 1000 people or less):
Increased heart rate, giddiness, pancreatitis, increased perspiration, hypersensitivity.

This is a not a complete list of the side effects associated with this product. More detailed information can be found in the leaflet supplied with the medicine. If you experience any side effects, speak to your nearest doctor or healthcare professional immediately.


Taking it with other medicines

Always tell your doctor about any other medicines you are using during consultation for Cilest, as they may reduce its effectiveness, or vice versa. These may include: medicines used to treat epilepsy, bosentan, antibiotics, HIV medicines, aprepitant and fosaprepitant, griseofulvin, modafinil, barbiturates, St. John’s Wort, metoclopramide, charcoal, colesevelam, etoricoxib, ciclosporin, lamotrigine, prednisolone, selegiline, theophylline or tizanidine.

Conditions to look out for

Make sure your prescriber knows about any conditions you have before taking this medicine. Cilest may not be suitable for those who are at increased risk of heart attack or stroke, or having blood clots. See the leaflet provided for more information.

You should not use this pill if you are breastfeeding and your baby is less than 6 weeks old, or if you have or have had: breast or liver cancer; an irregular heartbeat; heart problems; circulation problems; high blood pressure; migraines; diabetes; a severe liver disease; or lupus.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

If you are pregnant or think you could be pregnant do not commence using Cilest. Your doctor will be able to offer advice about whether you should use this pill when breastfeeding.

Driving and machinery

Cilest is not known to impede your ability to drive or operate machinery.

Contraception and cancer risks

Please refer to the enclosed patient information leaflet for in-depth detail about this treatment and cancer risks.

Lactose intolerance

This medicine contains lactose. If you have been made aware of an intolerance to some sugars, you should speak to your doctor before using Cilest.

Page last reviewed:  10/03/2022

Can I still drink alcohol?

Yes. It is safe to drink while using Cilest.

Will I still be able to drive?

Yes. But if you experience any side effects which may make driving unsafe, do not drive and seek medical advice.

Can I take the medicine while pregnant?

No. You will be required to undergo a pregnancy test prior to using Cilest for the first time to ensure you are not pregnant.

It may also not be suitable for women who are breastfeeding. Inform our doctor during completion of the questionnaire in these cases, so that they can advise you appropriately.

How should I store it?

Keep it in its original packaging, in a safe environment below 25°C.

Am I allergic to anything in the medicine?

Cilest contains norgestimate, ethinylestradiol, lactose, magnesium stearate, pregelatinised starch, and a type of dye, FD&C blue No 2 (E132).

Do not use it if you are allergic to any of the above constituents.

Is it available over-the-counter?

No. You can only buy Cilest in the UK with a prescription from a qualified doctor.

Can I buy Cilest online?

Cilest is no longer available to purchase in the UK. However, you can renew your prescription for a bioequivalent, such as Cilique. This contains the same active ingredients as Cilest, is available in the same dosages, has the same medicinal functions and is manufactured by the same company, Jannsen. 

When you use our service, a qualified doctor will assess your case and only issue a prescription if they think the treatment is safe for you. When your order is approved, it will be passed electronically to our dispensing pharmacy. Your order will then be delivered to your door by secure next-day courier.

If you are not using the pill right now and are wondering which is the right one for you, your GP or family planning nurse can help you choose one. Once settled on the right pill, those looking to renew their prescription can do so by taking our simple consultation. 

Page last reviewed:  10/03/2022
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