Zoely: The Wonder Pill?


I’ve been on ‘the pill’ for a heck of a long time.  And, unlike most people’s reasons for taking a contraceptive prescription, mine was for sanity: I had demon periods.

For years I dreaded my period that more resembled giving birth; two days every month spent in agonising labour-like pain doubled over on my bedroom floor.  As a teen, my beastly period disrupted my school-life and had me removed mid GCSE history exam.  So, when my gp suggested the pill, I was desperate, and thankful for the small mercy that came in a blister strip.

Half my life later (17 years between you and I) and I’ve taken just about every brand of pill going.  From Loestrin to Yasmin, I tried them all in near vain.  Although the pain I had before any pill was now lessened there was always some side affect outweighing any worth.

Then I chanced across an online health article about a new combined pill called Zoely.  Unlike regular pills that are fully synthetic, Zoely is semi synthetic, with a form of oestrogen that’s naturally found in the body.   With reports of fewer side affects and all around better periods, it read like the answer to my prayers and I was certain it would be my wonder drug.

At first, Zoely appeared great.  So great, in fact, it didn’t bother me.  My periods were extremely light, almost pain-less and my mood swings levelled out.

But then I began struggling to get into my clothes.  Knickers, leggings, skirts; eventually my size 12s had to upgrade to 14s.  Convinced clothes had shrunk in the wash, the reality hit when a check up one year later confirmed I’d put on weight.  I never put on weight and yet here I was 15lbs heavier than the 10 stone I always hovered around.  Zoely had made me fat.

That was when I realised Zoely couldn’t be a wonder pill, because it’s still a drug, and drugs that mess with your ovaries can do crazy things to your body.

So, this month I decided to finally lay my pill taking days to rest.  My last synthetic cycle completed, the last pill strip in the bin.

Now I’m tormented with migraines day in, day out, while my hormones readjust.  I feel nauseous and lightheaded.  Coming off the pill was supposed to be positive, not a car crash of grief.

I’m pretty sure I’m doing the right thing for myself but I can’t help but wonder whether the withdrawals will ever subside.  Will the agonising pain return?  Will my pre-Zoely body return?  Will the power of the pill finally loosen its hold?

Zoely isn’t a wonder pill, and neither is any other.  There will always be a negative to the gain.  It all plays with your body as much as your mind.  Desperation for lighter periods and less pain is a valid reason to reach for the pill for as much its contraceptive purposes, but there is a price to pay, whichever pill you pop.

I’m waving my white flag.  Here’s to period-pain filled days again; a Feminax fueled behemoth, stubborn through gritted teeth.  (You have been warned.)


23 Responses to Zoely: The Wonder Pill?

  1. Lee Rivers says:

    This may be extreme for you or not done in England, but sometimes a doctor will prescribe an IUD, namely Mirena, for the cramping. It has a tiny bit of hormones, but it also just thins the lining.

    • Becky Magson says:

      Hi Lee, thanks for the suggestion! We do have the coil here in the UK, I’ve had some people suggest that to me. I’ve not really liked the idea of anything other than the pill just because other options seem long term. My sister has an implant in her arm which I believe she has replaced every five years. I’d hate to commit that long, especially before having kids.

      • Lee Rivers says:

        While Mirena is long term, you can always have it removed before the five years are up and you should be able to get pregnant within the month. I don’t know if that’s more trouble than it’s worth? I found the insertion process okay with an initial 36 hours of cramping (not the worst I’ve had, but I did want an aspirin), but I haven’t had a removal yet.

        I’m hoping for the best for you whatever you do! Fingers crossed!

      • Michele Sutton says:

        I have had the same problem! How long did it take you to lose the weight you put on? Really worried here.

  2. Florence says:

    Hey Becky! I had really painful periods as a teen and I’ve been on the pill for almost 10 years now with no breaks. Although, I did find one that worked for me. Have you tried skipping your period with the pill? It’s not really a ‘period’ when you’re on BC since you’re not ovulating so most doctors say it’s not medically necessary to take the week-long break in between packs. I get mine 4x a year and that cuts down on the misery.

    Also, have you been checked out for endometriosis?

    Another thing – if you are done or are not planning on having children, there’s always Essure (endometrial ablation). It makes periods much lighter for most or even non-existent for about 50% of women. You can’t get pregnant on it but it’s not birth control.

    Anyway, I’m sure you’ve probably considered every single option by now and it’s silly of me to suggest these things but perhaps there’s hope!

    • Becky Magson says:

      Hey! No, thank you for the suggestions. I can only speak from my own experience and I’ve only ever been on the pill.

      I’ve had investigative scans to look into endometriosis and check for polips which have seemingly shown me as normal, but yes, that was also a concern in the back of my mind.

      I’m hoping to have kids at some point so I don’t want to commit too long term to anything. It may be worth considering Essure later on in life if I still have problems. I’d not heard of that before. 🙂

  3. jj says:

    thanks for writing this blog post. I was just wondering..i have recently gone on the pill and have heard so many stories about weight gain in particular..surely weight gain is only linked to increased appetite from the hormones..it can’t just make you put on weight randomly?

    • Becky Magson says:

      Weight gain associated with the Pill has interested me in that way too. I actually believe something happens chemically, almost like your metabolism is affected. I never ate more but still managed to gain weight. Very frustrating, but not a definite side affect with every Pill. I had been on many brands before putting on weight with Zoely.

  4. Ryland Gibvens says:

    I’m so glad that you pointed out the side effects from the pill on your blog. We’ve always done Natural Family Planning (NFP – no, it’s not the ‘rhythm method’). It takes some discipline (is that always bad in regard to sex?) but it works – in fact couples trying to conceive are often taught this method in order to know when they are fertile.

    Anyway, I had a sort of point to this and you touched on it. We have a farmers market on Saturdays near our house and I always find it somewhat humorous looking at the women walking around and chatting about watching what they put into their bodies. Sure, when it comes to food they are careful and selective; meanwhile they are loading chemicals in via BC pills. Does it not occur to them that health risks enter the body through channels other than food and water? It may not be convenient but for your overall health you are making the right move.

  5. Liv says:

    Hey Becky, I hope youre doing good and staying off the pill without any symptoms but i can tell you its been hell for me!! my demon periods have returned, i got acne like a 13 year old kid and ive started to grow hair on my face! My extra weight have not dissapeared! (maybe its lack of excercise afterall) 11 month off the pill now and its not getting better still getting headaches.. tell you what i still dont need kids for another 5 years so im going back to zoely! after all i think Zoely is my wonder pill!! Good luck!!

  6. Kiara says:

    Hi Becky, I’m about to go off Zoely after about two years of no problems except my weight gain and I was wondering about your story almost a year later – did you find that the weight came back off when you stopped taking the pill?

    • Becky Magson says:

      Hi Kiara. Great to hear Zoely was good for you too! The downside for me was the weight gain which sadly I didn’t lose when I came off Zoely. I have other health problems so exercising is problematic for me anyway, but I’m persevering in the hope I’ll get back my usual size eventually.

      Becky x

  7. Vallie says:

    I just came off Zoely after a month. Never had pimples before and this pill caused me to have chin acne. I am off
    It and my skin is looking better. Just wondering how soon did you get a period after stopping?

  8. Halley procter says:

    I had a period within 4 days of stopping zoely. I came off it due to weight gain. The weight gain was similar to when I had the implant and u put on 2st. I’ve put on a stone and a half with zoely. I’m having massive headaches since coming off it which isn’t good as I’m a migraine sufferer. I’ve been in the pill in one form or another for over 25yrs. I think I would rather have the spots etc than the weight gain.

    • Duff_Cat says:

      Hi Halley, now your off the pill for months, have you lost the weight you put on. I’m in the exact same boat. Awful heavy periods and anemic from it. Went on Zoely and piled on the pounds. I’m seriously thinking of coming off it but if the weight doesn’t come off I don’t know if I’d want to. I just Can’t make the decision.

  9. Shellly says:

    Coming off a pill for weight gain???? Babies cause way more weight gain. Do yourselves a favour and talk to a gynaecologist who can help you manage your menstrual pains, what’s the best options,. There Is the mirena or implants, nuvaring. Long acting methods only mean you don’t have to take a pill every day. If you want to get pregnant you can have them removed. Your fertility is restored with 72 hrs. Get some good info. Family planning have some really good doctors who know heaps…

  10. Liziana says:

    Hi all today I went for my yearly smear test etc and the gyne told me about this zoely and prescribed it so I am searching for it and found these comments . All of you seem to have gained weight. So it is a No no after slimming down and going to get married I would hate myself if I take it and gain weight right now. Have been on the pill for ages cause of my monster period and I have never had issues of weight gain till now so I am sticking to yaz the hell with my mood swings my bf has survived till now and will make it for a few months more

  11. Riekie says:

    Hi, I was on Diane for years and had the last month unregulated periods. My Doctor
    decided to put me on zoely, 7 days on the new tablet, take it at the same time at night, bad pelvis pain, headaches, heavy period. Is this normal,according to the
    Doctor I must give it time!! What must I do, go back on Diane?

  12. Anon says:

    I am wondering if anyone has had similar acne symptoms to me while on Zoely. I have always struggled with acne…but about 4 or 5 years ago, I went on accutane which basically cured all problems I had after 5-6 months. For some reason, after changing from a stronger bcp to Zoely, I started to get really frustrating cystic acne and pimples on my jawline, neck and shoulders…but nowhere else. I have gained a bit of weight (but honestly not so much that I can attribute to zoely)

    Please let me know if you had/ have a similar problem and if you are also deciding to change pills. I have also considered Mirena, but i’m a little worried because I hear very mixed reviews about it.


  13. Elisabeth says:

    I would recommend Qlaira. Like Zoely it contains estradiol valerate so is semi synthetic and has been the only pill I can tolerate side effects wise, and has dealt with the cramps that previously caused me to pass out in pain.

  14. Christina says:

    Hi everyone! Im in my third year with Zoely and I have not gained any weight, noneless, Zoely has helped me with my mood swings that I had before and also made my skin on my face better. I usually had during winter/autumn time spots looking like acne on my cheek. Nothing these years using Zoely and I am so happy to skip my PMS days 🙂 The only side effect I have is no blood, since I started with Zoely my “period” has dissapeared totally. The good part is no stomachache etc or swollen days… My experience is positive !! I take it every morning, at the same time…I wake up, take my bottle of water and take my pill. Then I start my day 🙂

  15. Floss says:

    Hi Ladies,
    It so interesting reading about everyone’s experience on Zoely. I’ve been taking Zoely for about 5 years now. For me Zoely was a last resort, not having tolerated 4 different types of pills and the Nuvaring. Of all the pills I’ve certainly had the least side effects taking Zoely… until more recently. For the past two years I’ve had headaches and cyclical migraines. More recently, in the last 6 months, the migraines have been severe accompanied with horrific nausea. Its debilitating and I dread the hours ahead when I feel the onset especially when pain relief has no effect what so ever. I can only contribute this to the pill as I’d never had a migraine prior to taking Zoely. Im booked in to see my doctor soon but feel very disheartened having gone through such a long process to get to Zoely that worked well… for a while. Qlaira sounds interesting though! I wish I was in a position to come off the pill completely but for several reasons I cant. The joys of being a woman!

  16. Chioma says:

    This is my 3rd month on Zoely and so far so good, seeing comments about shoulder acne now I know what caused mine oh gosh it was so weird , before I was on Minerva 35 which I gained so much weight . Thanks for this post

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