April 30, 2017
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Cyclessa Side Effects Center

Medical Editor: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

Last reviewed on RxList 2/15/2016

Cyclessa (desogestrel/ethinyl estradiol tablets) is a combination of female hormones used as contraception to prevent pregnancy. Cyclessa is available in generic form. Common side effects of Cyclessa include nausea (especially when you first start taking Cyclessa), vomiting, headache, stomach cramping/bloating, dizziness, vaginal discomfort/irritation, vaginal itching, increased vaginal fluids or discharge, or breast tenderness/enlargement, nipple discharge, freckles or darkening of facial skin, increased hair growth, loss of scalp hair, changes in weight or appetite, problems with contact lenses, and decreased sex drive. Acne may improve or get worse. Vaginal bleeding between periods (spotting) or missed/irregular menstrual periods may occur, especially during the first few months of use.

Cyclessa is a 28-day regimen of tablets, taken as prescribed. The first light yellow tablet is taken on the first day of menstrual bleeding. Tablets are taken without interruption as follows: One light yellow tablet daily for 7 days, then 1 orange tablet daily for 7 days, followed by 1 red tablet daily for 7 days and then 1 green (inactive) tablet daily for 7 days. Begin a new 28-tablet regimen on the next day after taking the last green tablet. Cyclessa may interact with acetaminophen, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), antibiotics, phenylbutazone, St. John's wort, seizure medicines, barbiturates, or HIV medicines. Tell your doctor all medications and supplements you use. Cyclessa must not be used during pregnancy. If you become pregnant or think you may be pregnant, tell your doctor. If you have just given birth or had a pregnancy loss/abortion after the first 3 months, consult your doctor about birth control, and find out when it is safe to use birth control containing estrogen, such as this medication. This medication passes into breast milk. This may affect milk production and may have undesirable effects on a nursing infant. Consult your doctor before breastfeeding.

Our Cyclessa (desogestrel/ethinyl estradiol tablets) Side Effects Drug Center provides a comprehensive view of available drug information on the potential side effects when taking this medication.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What is Patient Information in Detail?

Easy-to-read and understand detailed drug information and pill images for the patient or caregiver from Cerner Multum.

Cyclessa in Detail - Patient Information: Side Effects

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Stop using birth control pills and call your doctor at once if you have a serious side effect such as:

  • sudden numbness or weakness, especially on one side of the body;
  • sudden and severe headache, confusion, problems with vision, speech, or balance;
  • chest pain or heavy feeling, pain spreading to the arm or shoulder, nausea, sweating, general ill feeling;
  • sudden cough, wheezing, rapid breathing, coughing up blood;
  • pain, swelling, warmth, or redness in one or both legs;
  • a change in the pattern or severity of migraine headaches;
  • nausea, upper stomach pain, itching, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes);
  • swelling in your hands, ankles, or feet;
  • a breast lump; or
  • symptoms of depression (sleep problems, weakness, tired feeling, mood changes).

Less serious side effects may include:

  • mild nausea (especially when you first start taking this medicine), vomiting, bloating, stomach cramps;
  • breast tenderness or swelling, nipple discharge;
  • freckles or darkening of facial skin, increased hair growth, loss of scalp hair;
  • changes in weight or appetite;
  • problems with contact lenses;
  • vaginal itching or discharge; or
  • changes in your menstrual periods, decreased sex drive.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Read the entire detailed patient monograph for Cyclessa (Desogestrel Ethinyl Estradiol Tablets)

What is Prescribing information?

The FDA package insert formatted in easy-to-find categories for health professionals and clinicians.

Cyclessa FDA Prescribing Information: Side Effects
(Adverse Reactions)


An increased risk of the following serious adverse reactions has been associated with the use of oral contraceptives (see WARNINGS section):

• Thrombophlebitis and venous
thrombosis with or without embolism
• Arterial thromboembolism
• Pulmonary embolism
• Myocardial infarction
• Cerebral hemorrhage
• Cerebral thrombosis
• Hypertension
• Gallbladder disease
• Hepatic adenomas or benign liver tumors

There is evidence of an association between the following conditions and the use of oral contraceptives:

• Mesenteric thrombosis • Retinal thrombosis

The following adverse reactions have been reported in patients receiving oral contraceptives and are believed to be drug-related:

• Nausea
• Vomiting
• Gastrointestinal symptoms (such as
abdominal pain, cramps and bloating)
• Breakthrough bleeding
• Spotting
• Change in menstrual flow
• Amenorrhea
• Temporary infertility after
discontinuation of treatment
• Edema/fluid retention
• Melasma/chloasma which may persist
• Breast changes: tenderness, pain,
enlargement, and secretion
• Decrease in serum folate levels
• Exacerbation of porphyria
• Aggravation of varicose veins
• Change in weight or appetite (increase or decrease)
• Change in cervical ectropion and secretion
• Possible diminution in lactation when given
immediately postpartum
• Cholestatic jaundice
• Migraine headache
• Rash (allergic)
• Mood changes, including depression
• Vaginitis, including candidiasis
• Change in corneal curvature (steepening)
• Intolerance to contact lenses
• Exacerbation of systemic lupus erythematosus
• Exacerbation of chorea
• Anaphylactic/anaphylactoid reactions, including urticaria, angioedema, and severe reactions with respiratory and circulatory symptoms

The following adverse reactions have been reported in users of oral contraceptives and the association has been neither confirmed nor refuted:

• Pre-menstrual syndrome
• Cataracts
• Cystitis-like syndrome
• Headache
• Nervousness
• Dizziness
• Hirsutism
• Loss of scalp hair
• Erythema multiforme
• Dysmenorrhea
• Pancreatitis
• Erythema nodosum
• Hemorrhagic eruption
• Impaired renal function
• Hemolytic uremic syndrome
• Acne
• Changes in libido
• Colitis
• Budd-Chiari Syndrome
• Optic neuritis, which may lead to partial or complete loss of vision

Read the entire FDA prescribing information for Cyclessa (Desogestrel Ethinyl Estradiol Tablets)

Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration


You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

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