How effective is the Hana contraceptive pill?

How effective is desogestrel?
How long before desogestrel is effective?
How do you take Hana®?
Is Hana® suitable for everyone?
How can I get Hana®?

Choosing a method of contraception can be a difficult decision. There are many factors to consider, such as your health, any medications you’re taking, whether you prefer hormonal or non hormonal, and if you prefer to take your birth control every day or opt for a long acting reversible method. One of the most important factors to consider if you don’t want to get pregnant is how effective your contraceptive method is.

Hana® is a progestogen-only pill that contains desogestrel, a synthetic hormone that mimics the naturally occurring hormone progesterone. Hana® is the best selling contraceptive pill available to buy over the counter in the UK*. It can help prevent pregnancy by:

  • Preventing ovulation, so no egg is released and any sperm in the body has nothing to fertilise
  • Thickening cervical mucus, so sperm have a harder time reaching the uterus

You can buy Hana® over the pharmacy counter or online. When purchasing Hana® you will complete a short consultation so a pharmacist can check and see if Hana® is the right choice for you.

How effective is desogestrel?

“Taken at the same time each day, progestogen-only pills like Hana® which contain desogestrel are over 99% effective,” says Deborah Evans, a pharmacist with over 30 years of experience**. “This means that fewer than 1 woman in 100 who uses the progestogen-only pill as contraception will get pregnant in one year.”

If you take progestogen-only pills like Hana® correctly, which is known as ‘perfect use’ and means that you take it at the same time every day without a break between packs and never forget to take it,  they are over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. With typical use, which accounts for human error such as someone forgetting to take their pill or not taking it consistently at the same time, this effectiveness can go down to around 92% effective. This may be due to forgetting to take your pill or not taking it at the same time every day, vomiting or diarrhoea, or taking certain medicines that may interfere with Hana®’s effectiveness. 

If you forget to take your contraceptive pill then there is a chance you could ovulate and become pregnant if you had sex without using a barrier method like a condom. Progestogen-only pills containing desogestrel like Hana® should be taken every day at the same time without a break between packs. 

If you realise you’ve forgotten to take your pill and it’s been less than 12 hours since you were meant to take it, then it will still be effective if you take it within that 12 hour window. If it’s been longer than 12 hours, that counts as a missed pill. You should take your contraceptive pill as soon as you remember and take your next pill at the usual time (even if that means taking two pills in one day). You should also use a barrier method (like a condom) for the next 7 days as your contraceptive pill may be temporarily less effective if you’ve missed one or more.

It’s important to consider whether you feel confident that you will remember to take your contraceptive pill reliably, and that you’ll remember to take it if your routine changes ( if you stay at someone else’s house or go on holiday for example). If you’re not sure whether you want to commit to taking your contraceptive every day, consider if a long acting reversible contraceptive (LARC) like the IUD may be more suitable.

How long before desogestrel is effective?

If you start taking desogestrel on the first day of your menstrual cycle, then it will be effective immediately. However, if you start taking it on any other day of your cycle, then you will need to use another method of contraception (such as condoms) for the first 7 days to help prevent unplanned pregnancy.

How do you take Hana®?

Hana® is a progestogen-only pill that has to be taken at the same time every day without a break between packs. You should swallow one tablet whole with water every day and start a new pack as soon as you finish the previous one. You take Hana® every day, 365 days a year, with no break between packs. There are no inactive or placebo pills with Hana®.

To make sure you take Hana® correctly, you should:

  • Choose a convenient time of day that suits you and stick to it
  • Use an alarm or reminder app to help you remember your pill
  • Keep your pill pack somewhere you can easily see it
  • Check your pill pack regularly and make sure you have enough supply
  • Read the patient information leaflet carefully and follow the instructions

If you have any questions or concerns about taking Hana®, you can always ask your pharmacist or doctor for advice.

Is Hana® suitable for everyone?

Hana® is not suitable for everyone. You should not take Hana® if you:

  • Are allergic to desogestrel or any of the other ingredients in Hana®
  • Are pregnant or think you might be pregnant
  • Have or have had breast cancer
  • Have or have had a blood clot in your veins or arteries
  • Have or have had liver disease or liver tumours
  • Have unexplained vaginal bleeding

You should also tell your pharmacist or doctor if you have any of the following conditions, as they may affect the suitability or safety of Hana® for you:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Migraine with aura
  • Epilepsy
  • Tuberculosis
  • Depression
  • Gallstones
  • Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis

You should also inform your pharmacist or doctor about any other medicines you are taking, as some of them may interact with Hana® and reduce its effectiveness or increase its side effects. These include:

  • Medicines for epilepsy, such as carbamazepine, phenytoin, phenobarbital, primidone, oxcarbazepine, topiramate or lamotrigine
  • Medicines for tuberculosis, such as rifampicin or rifabutin
  • Medicines for HIV, such as ritonavir, nevirapine or efavirenz
  • Medicines for fungal infections, such as griseofulvin, ketoconazole or itraconazole
  • Medicines for hepatitis C, such as boceprevir or telaprevir
  • Medicines for high blood pressure, such as bosentan
  • Herbal remedies containing St John’s wort

If you are unsure whether Hana® is suitable for you, you should always consult your pharmacist or doctor before taking it.

How can I get Hana®?

Hana® is the best selling contraceptive pill available to buy over the counter from pharmacies in the UK*. You can also order it online for delivery to your door. However you choose to buy Hana®, you will need to answer some questions about your health and medical history to make sure it’s suitable for you.


**Deborah Evans does not endorse any products or brands.

Hana® 75µg film-coated tablets contains desogestrel and is an oral contraception for women of child bearing age to prevent pregnancy. Always read the instructions on the package leaflet carefully.