Avoid pregnancy with Cryselle birth control pills

Cryselle (Norgestrel) is an effective combination pill that’s been helping women prevent unplanned pregnancies for over 50 years. It also treats period cramps, PMS and other conditions. 

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Reviewed by Dr Yasmin Aghajan, MD

Information last reviewed 07/17/19


What is Cryselle?

Cryselle is a type of birth control known as the combined pill. This means it contains estrogen and progestin hormones that are released into the body to prevent unwanted pregnancies. It’s one of the most common forms of birth control available on the market. 

How does Cryselle work?

Combination pills like Cryselle contain 2 hormones: estrogen and progestin, which work by preventing ovulation (release of an egg from an ovary) during your menstrual cycle, which in turn enables fertilization. It also changes your cervical mucus (vaginal fluid) by making it thicker, which prevents sperm from reaching an egg, and changes the uterine lining (cells that line the womb), which prevents a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus. Cryselle does not protect you or your partner against sexually transmitted diseases (STIs) and HIV. 

How effective is Cryselle?

Cryselle is a very effective form of birth control, successfully preventing pregnancy in over 99% of cases. However, it’s effectiveness relies upon you taking it properly. Missing pills, starting a pack late, vomiting and taking medications which interfere with it are all factors which can cause Cryselle to fail. 

Non-contraceptive uses of Cryselle

There are several non-contraceptive benefits that come from using Cryselle. It controls your menstrual cycle giving you lighter, less painful and more regular periods. It also helps to reduce the symptoms of PMS. Birth control, like Cryselle, is often prescribed to treat acne and can ease the symptoms of endometriosis. 


Active ingredients

Cryselle contains the active ingredients norgestrel at a concentration of 0.3mg and ethinyl estradiol at a concentration of 0.03mg.  

Inactive ingredients

Cryselle also contains the following inactive ingredients: hypromellose, lactose monohydrate, magnesium stearate, microcrystalline cellulose, polyethylene glycol 400, polyethylene glycol 8000, starch, corn.

Which ingredients can cause an allergic reaction?

Unless you have a known allergy or hypersensitivity to any of the ingredients (active or inactive) in Cryselle, it is very rare you will experience a severe allergic reaction to this birth control. However, if you do notice yourself struggling to breathe, a rash/hives, or dizziness shortly after taking the birth control, make sure to seek immediate medical attention. 


Cryselle dosage

Cryselle comes in packages of 6 blister card dispensers, each containing 28 tablets: 21 active tablets that are white, and 7 inactive tablets that are light-green colored. 

How to take Cryselle

For this contraceptive method to be fully effective, you must take it exactly as prescribed and not exceed intervals of 24 hours. 

Take your first pill on the first day of your period or on the first Sunday after your period begins. 
You should take one white tablet every day for 21 consecutive days. After the 21 days, continue by taking one light-green inactive tablet daily for 7 consecutive days. Take your tablets every day at the same time each day, preferably after your evening meal or before going to bed. You should always start a new cycle of Cryselle on the same day of the week (Sunday) on which you began the first one. If you start a cycle later than you should protect yourself by using another method of contraception until you have taken a white tablet daily for 7 days. 

Do not skip any doses as pregnancy is more likely to occur if you miss pills, start a new pack late, or take your pill at a different time than usual. 

What do I do if I forget to take Cryselle?

If you forget to take one white, active pill, take it right away and then take your next one at your scheduled time. Your birth control will not be affected. If you miss two in weeks 1-2 of your cycle, take two pills on the day you remember and two the following day. Continue with the rest as usual and use condoms for the next 7 days. If you miss two pills in week three, throw out the rest of your pack and begin a new one right away. If you began your pack on a Sunday, then keep taking your pills until the next Sunday, stopping the pack and then starting a new one on that Sunday. If you’re ever unsure, use condoms or a diaphragm until you have taken your pills properly for 7 days. 

What do I do if I took my pill too late?

If you take a pill later in the day than usual, this will not affect your birth control. Continue to take the rest as you normally do and consider setting a reminder on your phone to help you remember. If it has been more than 24 hours since you were due to take it, follow the steps for a missed pill. 

Side Effects

Cryselle side effects

Side effects of oral contraceptive like Cryselle may include:

  • Vaginal bleeding between periods (spotting) or missed/irregular periods

  • Fluid retention which may cause swelling of ankles or fingers, and may raise your blood pressure

  • Nausea (feeling sick)

  • Change in appetite

  • Vomiting (being sick)

  • Breast tenderness

  • Headache

  • Depression

  • Nervousness

  • Dizziness

  • Bloating

  • Weight change

  • Rash

  • Vaginal infection

  • Intolerance to contact lenses



The following side effects are rare but serious. If any of these occur while taking Cryselle, call your doctor immediately:


  • Sharp chest pain, coughing of blood, or sudden shortness of breath (possible clot in the lung)

  • Severe pain or tenderness in the stomach area (indicating a possibly ruptured liver tumor)

  • Crushing chest pain or heaviness in the chest (possible heart attack)

  • Breast lumps (indicating possible breast cancer or fibrocystic disease of the breast)

  • Sudden partial or complete loss of vision (possible clot in the eye)

  • Pain in the calf (indicating a possible clot in the leg)

  • Sudden severe headache or vomiting, dizziness or fainting, disturbances of vision or speech, weakness, or numbness in an arm or leg (possible stroke)

  • Difficulty in sleeping, weakness, lack of energy, fatigue, or change in mood ( indicating severe depression).

  • Yellowing of the skin or eyeballs (jaundice), fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, dark-colored urine, or light-colored bowel movements  (possible liver problems)

Drug interactions

Some drugs may interfere with the effectiveness of Cryselle to prevent pregnancy. Do not take Cryselle with any of the following drugs:
amitriptyline, bupropion, clonazepam, fluoxetine, gabapentin, ibuprofen, levothyroxine, metformin, multivitamin, ethinyl estradiol/norgestrel, omeprazole, montelukast, topiramate, tramadol, trazodone, Vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin), Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol), alprazolam, sertraline, cetirizine 


Cryselle is contraindicated in the following cases:

  • Untreated high blood pressure

  • Circulation problems

  • Heart disease, chest pain, coronary artery disease, heart attack, stroke, or blood clot

  • History of hormone-related cancer, cancer of the breast, of the uterus/cervix, or vagina

  • If you are at high risk of having blood clots due to a heart problem or a hereditary blood disorder

  • Severe migraine

  • Liver disease or liver cancer

  • If you experiencing unusual vaginal bleeding and have not been checked by your doctor yet

  • If you have suffered from jaundice in the past due to birth control pills

  • If you take any Hepatitis C medication (e.e. Technivie) containing ombitasvir/paritaprevir/ritonavir

  • If you are at high risk of arterial or venous thrombotic diseases. This may be the case for women who suffer from coagulopathies, cerebrovascular disease, coronary artery disease, have diabetes mellitus with vascular disease, have or have had deep-vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism, have thrombogenic valvular or thrombogenic rhythm diseases of the heart, have hypertension, women who are over 35 and smoke or suffer from migraine

  • If you suffer from benign or malignant liver tumors, or any liver disease

  • If you are pregnant

  • If you are allergic to any of the ingredients in Cryselle. See the ingredients section above.


Disclaimer: This is not medical advice. You and your physician will determine if and how you should take any medication prescribed to you following a medical consultation.

  1. WebMD, ‘Cryselle’, [website], [accessed 20 June 2019]
  2., ‘Cryselle 28’,  [website], 14 September 2018  [accessed 20 June 2019]
  3. ‘Cryselle’, [website], 1 December 2017, [accessed 20 June 2019]
  4., ‘Cryselle Drug Interaction’, [website],3 June 2019,,cryselle.html [accessed 20 June 2019]
  5. Mayo Clinic, ‘Combination birth control pills’,  [website], 9 January 2019  [accessed 20 June 2019]
  6. RxList, ‘Cryselle’,  [website], 1 November 2018, [accessed 20 June 2019]
  7. DailyMed, ‘Cryselle’,  [website], 22 December 2017, February 2018, [accessed 20 June 2019]

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