Demulen is a combined oral contraceptive, meaning it contains a combination of two different hormones (an estrogen and a progestin). This prescription birth control pill works to prevent pregnancy by stopping ovulation, changing the cervical mucus, and altering the lining of the uterus. Common side effects include acne and breast tenderness. Brand-name Demulen is no longer available; it is only available in generic form.

What Is Demulen?

Demulen® (ethynodiol diacetate/ethinyl estradiol) is a prescription birth control pill. It comes in two different strengths -- Demulen 1/35 and Demulen 1/50. Compared to most other birth control pills that are currently available, Demulen 1/50 contains more estrogen.
(Click Demulen Uses for more information, including possible off-label uses.)

Is Demulen Still Available?

Brand-name Demulen is no longer available in the United States, as it was discontinued by its manufacturer. However, generic versions (sold under the names Zovia® and Kelnor™) are still available. If your healthcare provider writes you a prescription for Demulen, your pharmacist will automatically substitute one of the generic versions (see Generic Demulen for more information).

How Does This Medication Work?

Demulen is a "combined" oral contraceptive, which means that it contains two different types of hormones. It contains both an estrogen (ethinyl estradiol) and a progestin (ethynodiol diacetate). Combined oral contraceptives are the most common type of birth control pill used today. Generally, combined oral contraceptives are more effective than progestin-only birth control pills.
The hormones in Demulen prevent pregnancy primarily by stopping ovulation (the maturation and release of eggs from the ovaries). However, Demulen also works to prevent pregnancy in two other, minor ways. It 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.
Demulen 1/50 (but not Demulen 1/35) contains more estrogen than most birth control pills that are currently available. This 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.
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD
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