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What is Hana 75mcg Oral Contraceptive?

I would like to think that the articles I produce are somewhat varied, whether that be information about a common condition, providing updates on all things Covid, or looking at specific products available on the market. This week I focus on the latter, the Medicines and Health Regulatory Agency (MHRA) have made the headlines lately by approving the contraceptive pill desogestrel, or Hana 75mcg Contraceptive Pill as its brand name, available to purchase in pharmacies without the need of a prescription from your GP or nurse. This week we take a look at what Hana is, how it works, what you can expect when you're on it, and how important this switch is.

What is Hana?

Hana, or desogestrel, is a member of the contraceptive family. Desogestrel was discovered in 1972 and was made available in Europe in 1981. It is normally the go to drug of choice for women who want contraceptive cover, having been on the market for decades it has proven to be a very safe and effective medicine to take. HRA Pharma is responsible for the production and manufacture for this over-the-counter contraceptive variant, which means only this company can make Hana, however multiple companies are allowed to make desogestrel as that is the name of the drug and not the brand. To be made available on the market, it was tried and tested to ensure that Hana contains 75mcg of desogestrel, so the only difference between Hana and any other generic medicine is simply the brand name and that you can buy it over the counter, clinically it is identical.

How Do I Take Hana Oral Contraceptive?

Hana is a type of contraceptive pill called a progesterone only pill. Or POP. Hana works by effectively thickening the mucus within the cervix to stop the sperm from travelling to the egg. Hana can also stop ovulation and must be taken once daily in order for it to be 99% effective. Most patients who take a daily tablet can sometimes forget to take it daily, so a more typical effectiveness sits at around 91% - which is still very effective. It is very important that you take Hana at the same time each day, with the desogestrel pill if you take it more than 12 hours late then it may not be clinically effective.

What Are The Side Effects of Hana 75mcg Oral Contraceptive?

Hana has no other specific side effects that are not already mentioned within desogestrel. It is important to note that side effects are not a guarantee, but more information as to what may be expected when you are on this medicine. For the majority of reported side effects on Hana they are very self limiting. Common side effects can include bleeding irregularities, breast abnormalities, skin changes, increased weight gain, and an increased or decreased sex drive. However, it is worth noting some less common but more serious side effects such as vomiting, fatigue, alopecia, and even facial swelling - but these are a lot rarer. If you have taken your pill and within two hours you are sick or have diarrhoea it is important to take another tablet as the full dose may not have been absorbed by the body. If the vomiting or nausea continues then you are not fully protected from pregnancy and would need to use an additional method of contraception such as a condom for the duration of the illness and two days after - mind you that may be the last thing that's on your mind!

Who Can Use Hana 75mcg Oral Contraceptive?

The pharmacist will go through a history of your medicines, family history and current illnesses to see if there could be any reason that Hana may not be suitable for you to take. It is important that you tell them exactly what you are on, even if it's something you buy over the counter. You should be fine to take Hana providing you:

  • Do not take any medicines that interact with Hana (speak to pharmacist for more information)
  • Think there is a chance you may be pregnant
  • Have liver disease
  • Have arterial disease 
  • Have currently or in the past had breast cancer
  • Have unexplained bleeding in between periods or after sex


You can also take Hana if you are currently breastfeeding. So if you are exempt from all of the above and provided that you are healthy, you are fine to take Hana every day until you go through menopause.

Whilst Hana is a great medication, it is worth going through the pros and cons of the medicine. For example, whats great about Hana is that it does not interrupt sex, it can be used at any age, and that it is a good alternative for those that cannot take oestrogen. That being said, your periods may not be as regular when you are on it, and Hana, like all oral contraceptives, does nothing to prevent STIs, only pregnancy. You need to make sure that you take it at the same time each day and some antibiotics can reduce the efficacy of Hana.

Thankfully now, you are able to get one or three months of contraceptive cover over the counter thanks to your local or online pharmacy. If you want to get started on contraception and are unsure where to start - you can speak to a pharmacist, who will be more than happy to help you.

Author: Matt Jennings MRPharmS

Clinically Reviewed By:

Ibrahim Nakib BSc(Hons) MRPharmS

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