Cyclessa is a prescription drug that is used to prevent pregnancy. It is a combined oral contraceptive, which means that it contains two different types of hormones -- an estrogen and a progestin. While most women tolerate the drug well, side effects can include headaches, nausea, and breast tenderness. Cyclessa comes in tablet form and is taken once a day.

What Is Cyclessa?

Cyclessa® (desogestrel/ethinyl estradiol) is a prescription birth control pill (technically known as an oral contraceptive). Three generic birth control pills are equivalent to Cyclessa:
  • Caziant™ (made by Watson Laboratories, Inc.)
  • Cesia™ (made by Prasco Laboratories)
  • Velivet (made by Barr Pharmaceuticals, Inc.).
(Click Cyclessa Uses for more information, including possible off-label uses.)

Who Makes Cyclessa?

Cyclessa is made by Organon USA, Inc. Generic versions of the drug are made by various manufacturers (see Generic Cyclessa).

How Does It Work?

Cyclessa belongs to a group of birth control pills known as combined oral contraceptives, which means that it contains two different types of hormones. It contains both an estrogen (ethinyl estradiol) and a progestin (desogestrel). Combined oral contraceptives are the most commonly used type of birth control pill.
The hormones in Cyclessa prevent pregnancy primarily by stopping ovulation (the maturation and release of eggs from the ovaries). However, it also works to prevent pregnancy in two other, less important ways. Cyclessa changes the cervical mucus (the fluid of the cervix, which is the lower, narrow part of the uterus that is connected to the vagina), making it more difficult for sperm to enter the uterus. It also alters the lining of the uterus (the endometrium), making it less receptive to an embryo.
Cyclessa is a triphasic birth control pill, which means that there are three different "phases" of pills in each pack, plus the last week of tablets with no active ingredients. Each week has a different amount of the progesterone hormone in Cyclessa. This is why it is important to take the pills in the correct order.
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD
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