Demulen Warnings and Precautions

Specific Precautions and Warnings With Demulen

Some of the warnings and precautions to be aware of prior to using this medication include the following:
  • Demulen 1/50 (but not Demulen 1/35) contains more estrogen than most birth control pills that are currently on the market. This high-estrogen dose may increase the risk of dangerous side effects, such as blood clots and strokes, as estrogen is responsible for these problems. You should only take Demulen 1/50 if your healthcare provider thinks that it is the best choice for your situation.
For instance, high-estrogen birth control pills may be useful for women who experience heavy menstrual bleeding or heavy bleeding between periods while on regular birth control pills.
  • Combined oral contraceptives, including Demulen, can cause life-threatening conditions, such as heart attacks, strokes, and blood clots. The risk is minimal for healthy, young, nonsmoking women. However, tell your healthcare provider if you have ever had a blood clot, stroke, heart attack, or chest pain. Smoking cigarettes greatly increases the risk of developing these serious Demulen side effects (this risk is particularly high for smokers over the age of 35).
  • Like all birth control pills, Demulen does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including HIV or AIDS. As a result, it is often a good idea to use condoms in addition to Demulen in order to prevent the transmission of STDs.
  • The medication is effective at preventing pregnancy when taken correctly. However, it becomes much less effective if taken incorrectly. Most of the cases of accidental pregnancy while taking "the pill" are due to incorrect usage. Make sure you understand exactly how to take Demulen, including how and when to start it, and what to do if you miss any pills.
  • Demulen can interact with a number of different medications, possibly increasing the risk of unintentional pregnancy (see Demulen Drug Interactions).
  • Combined oral contraceptives may slightly increase the risk of breast cancer or cervical cancer, although this is an unresolved issue. However, combined oral contraceptives seem to help protect women against ovarian and uterine cancer.
  • Oral contraceptives increase the risk of benign (noncancerous) liver tumors. In rare cases, these tumors can rupture and cause serious problems.
  • Hormonal contraceptives such as Demulen can make gallbladder disease worse. Therefore, if you have had a problem with your gallbladder, this medication may not be the best contraceptive method for you.
  • Demulen may increase blood sugar levels, particularly in women with diabetes. Your healthcare provider may need to monitor you more closely in this case. Let your healthcare provider know if you have any sudden vision changes, as this may be a sign of a blood clot in the eyes (a possible side effect of Demulen and other hormonal contraceptives).
  • Hormonal contraceptives, including Demulen, can increase your blood pressure. This can be a problem if you already have high blood pressure.
  • Demulen can change your menstrual bleeding patterns. Some women have breakthrough bleeding (bleeding between periods), while others may not have a period at all. It is normal to have shorter and lighter periods while using Demulen. However, if you notice any unusual changes in your bleeding patterns, let your healthcare provider know. If you miss a period, you should make sure you are not pregnant.
  • The medication can affect your cholesterol. Your healthcare provider may need to check your cholesterol levels after you start Demulen, especially if you already have high cholesterol.
  • Sometimes, hormonal contraceptives can make depression worse. Let your healthcare provider know if you develop new or worsening symptoms of depression while taking Demulen.
  • Occasionally, Demulen (as well as any other hormonal contraceptive) can cause eye changes that make it more difficult to wear contact lenses.
  • Demulen is considered a pregnancy Category X medication. This means that it should not be used during pregnancy (see Demulen and Pregnancy).
  • Contraceptive hormones, such as the ones in Demulen, do pass through breast milk. Therefore, if you are breastfeeding or plan to start, discuss this with your healthcare provider prior to taking the drug (see Demulen and Breastfeeding). Combined hormonal contraceptives are not usually recommended for women who are breastfeeding.
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD
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