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What Azalia is and what is it used for?
Azalia is a contraceptive pill that contains desogestrel. This is a progestogen that is similar to the progesterone hormone produced naturally by the ovaries. It does not contain oestrogen and because of this, it is often referred to as a progesterone-only pill (POP) or ‘mini-pill’.
Azalia contains the same active hormone at the same dose as Cerazette, they are just made by different manufacturers so have different names.
It has fewer risk factors than the combined pill and provides excellent contraceptive cover if taken correctly. (This can be difficult in reality, so reminders such as phone alarms can be useful!)
All POPs work to prevent pregnancy by thickening the mucus at the cervix (neck of the womb), preventing sperm from entering the womb to fertilise an egg. They can thin the lining of the womb, which may make it more difficult for a fertilised egg to implant.
Newer POPs like Azalia also act on the ovaries and reduce the frequency of ovulation (release of an egg). This provides more effective contraceptive cover than the older POPs, such as Noriday, which do not reduce ovulation as reliably.
Contraceptive pills do not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). You should always use a barrier method such as a condom to reduce your risk of STIs.
Here is some important information on the progesterone-only pill.
Important Medical Information
Who is the service for?
This service can provide contraceptive medication for female (birth sex) patients aged between 17 and 55 years, subject to clinical suitability to:
- Prevent pregnancy
- Regulate troublesome periods
To use this service safely, we require up to date height & weight information and a recent blood pressure reading. If you have had a recent blood pressure check by your GP/ nurse, you can use this. If not, a reading from your local gym, pharmacy or home monitor can be used.
Finding the right pill for you can take a little trial and error. If you are experiencing significant side effects with your current pill, please let us know and we can advise on safe alternative options.
Unfortunately, we are not able to provide prescriptions for depo-provera injections, contraceptive implants or coils.
Please be aware, this service is not suitable if you have malabsorption problems from any cause, including after weight loss surgery (e.g. gastric band or sleeve). You should speak with your local GP or family planning clinic for contraceptive advice.
How do you take Azalia?
If this is your first time taking Cerazette or you are restarting:
- Start it on days 1-5 of your next period and you will have full contraceptive cover immediately.
- If you have not been sexually active since your last period, you can start it at any time of your cycle. If taken correctly, you will have full contraceptive cover after 48 hours. You should use additional contraception during this 48 hour time.
- If you are changing from another pill/ form of contraception, please contact us via your patient record for specific instructions.
Each pill packet contains 28 tablets and is labelled with the days of the week and arrows to follow. Start the packet with the correctly labelled pill from the top row. It is essential that you take your pill around the same time every day.
When you have finished the packet, start a new packet the next day; do not wait for a period or stop when you bleed.
This is a daily pill, there is no break.
What are the potential side effects of Azalia?
This pill is generally very well-tolerated. The most common side effect reported is a change in bleeding pattern:
- 20% will have no bleeding
- 40% will have regular bleeding
- 40% will have irregular bleeding
Occasionally this bleeding pattern may change. Although frustrating as it is unpredictable, the actual bleeding pattern is of no medical consequence. If you do develop bleeding out of the blue, it is important to speak with a doctor about this.
Other side effects include breast tenderness, bloating, headaches, mood swings and acne. These are not very common and usually settle within the first few months.
Ovarian cysts can occasionally develop when using the POP. These can cause pain, but are not dangerous and usually resolve when the pill is stopped. A past history of an ovarian cyst is not a contradiction to using the newer POPs like Azalia.
There is a small increased risk of breast cancer in women who use all forms of contraception, compared with those who do not. If you are concerned about this, you should discuss this with a doctor via an online video consultation.
There is no evidence that the POP causes weight gain.
For full details of the potential side effects of these medications, please ensure that you read the patient information leaflet that comes with your medication before you start to use it.
Does taking Azalia increase my risk of getting a blood clot?
Taking Azalia may affect your risk of developing a blood clot, but the risk is significantly lower compared with using combined contraception (pill, patch or ring).
What happens if I forget to take Azalia?
If you forget to take your Azalia pill, take it as soon as you remember and the next one at the usual time. (Do not take more than one missed pill). This may mean taking 2 pills in one day.
- If the missed pill is less than 12 hours late, then you still have contraceptive cover provided you have taken the previous pills in your packet correctly.
- If the missed pill is more than 12 hours late, then you do not have contraceptive cover and you are not protected against pregnancy. You should continue to take your pills as usual and use additional contraception for 2 full days, until contraceptive cover begins again.
- If you have unprotected sex after the missed pill or in the 48 hours when you do not have contraceptive cover, you will need to take emergency contraception. If you need to take emergency contraception, the advice is to take Levonelle.
If you have vomiting or diarrhoea within 2 hours of taking your pill, then it may not be absorbed properly. Carry on taking the pill but use other forms of contraception for the duration of the illness and for 48 hours after.
Azalia is most effective if taken correctly. If you are having trouble remembering to take your pill here are some tips to help:
- Set a reminder on your phone.
- Try to take it in the morning so you have more time to remember if you forget.
- Combine pill-taking with another morning task e.g. leave your pill packet beside your toothbrush.
- Download a reminder App.
If you still have problems remembering to take your pill then you should speak with a doctor about alternative contraceptive options.
Can I delay my period using the Azalia pill?
Unfortunately, you cannot delay your period by using Azaila. This type of pill does not provide good cycle control and the bleeding pattern is often unpredictable. However, some patients will have very light bleeding or no bleeding at all when using Azalia.
Can I take other medications with Azalia?
Some medications (prescribed and over the counter), herbal remedies and supplements can interact with Azalia. This can cause contraceptive failure and increase the possibility of potential side effects.
Please seek advice from a healthcare professional (e.g. doctor, pharmacist or nurse):
- Before starting any new medications, herbal remedies or supplements if you are taking Azalia.
- If you are taking regular medication and are planning to start using Cerazette (or any contraceptive).
Examples of some medications that can interact with Azalia include EllaOne (emergency contraceptive pill), St John’s wort, antiviral medications used to treat HIV/ AIDs, certain epilepsy medications, griseofulvin antifungal, rifampicin antibiotic (please note, other antibiotics do not affect Azalia).
Contraceptive Pill, Patch & Ring Options That We Prescribe
Too busy to see your GP? Order your repeat prescription for the contraceptive pill, patch or ring online with Webdoctor.ie! Once your request has been approved, we can send your prescription directly to your chosen Irish pharmacy via secure Healthmail. If you do not see your pill listed, please email us for advice.
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