Zoely: The Wonder Period Pill?

March 30, 2015

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 contraceptive pill for my painful periods – or Dysmenorrhea – 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.)


  1. Lee Rivers

    March 30, 2015 at 2:47 am

    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.

    1. Becky Magson

      March 31, 2015 at 12:29 am

      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.

      1. Lee Rivers

        April 3, 2015 at 12:00 am

        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!

      2. Michele Sutton

        April 4, 2017 at 9:40 pm

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

  2. Florence

    March 30, 2015 at 3:04 pm

    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!

    1. Becky Magson

      March 31, 2015 at 12:32 am

      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. 🙂

      1. Bianca

        July 11, 2021 at 12:33 am

        Hey Becky, it really sounds like you have endometriosis. The only way to officially know if you have it is through surgery- there are currently no scans can that can tell you if you have it or not. It’s definitely worth doing if you’re periods are that painful and you’ve ruled out everything else. My doctors were convinced I didn’t have it, (I had all the scans and ultrasounds etc done) tried all different contraception’s for years, but I was fed up and took charge and made them give me a laparoscopy. Low and behold and I had superficial endo EVERYWHERE and needed to have it excised.
        Please please look in to it. If you want kids in the future, endometriosis can seriously hinder your fertility so you need to start treating it asap before it develops in to worse stages. X

  3. jj

    April 16, 2015 at 2:42 am

    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?

    1. Becky Magson

      April 16, 2015 at 10:45 pm

      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

    May 1, 2015 at 3:02 am

    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

    October 29, 2015 at 11:35 pm

    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

    March 2, 2016 at 3:05 am

    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?

    1. Becky Magson

      March 2, 2016 at 5:38 pm

      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

    2. Becky Connolly

      September 17, 2018 at 9:45 pm

      Hi Kiara, I’ve only just noticed your comment now! The weight I gained through Zoely never did drop off, sadly. I remained a UK size 14 until I was pregnant with my son in 2017 and now I wear a 14-16. That’s life, I guess!

      Becky x

  7. Vallie

    March 12, 2016 at 7:13 am

    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

    March 24, 2016 at 9:43 am

    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.

    1. Duff_Cat

      September 28, 2016 at 12:00 am

      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

    April 19, 2016 at 3:50 pm

    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

    April 27, 2016 at 6:18 pm

    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

    July 18, 2016 at 11:22 am

    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

    July 22, 2016 at 2:15 pm

    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

    November 4, 2016 at 2:54 pm

    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

    January 12, 2017 at 3:02 pm

    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 🙂

    1. Amber

      May 10, 2017 at 9:31 pm

      Wow i kept reading and reading because i was adamant that someone else had positive feedback!

      I have been on Zoely for just over a month now and have zero side effects as of yet (still early days). I am a pretty active person which may counter the weight gain but other than that i cannot relate to any of these horror stories. I do believe every body functions differently so find what seems to work for you and see it through 🙂 YAY to Zoely

  15. Floss

    March 28, 2017 at 7:21 am

    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

    April 11, 2017 at 8:41 am

    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

  17. Shell

    May 14, 2017 at 5:38 am

    Hi Ladies,

    Having tried every pill going I went back to the mini pill Norgesterone, which is the same drug they use in the Merina cook (so well worth trying first if you are thinking of having that fitted, just to check how you get on with the drug). Anyway the mini pill (which Drs seem to forget exists) is safe when breast feeding, doesn’t mess your hormones up as much and gives you lighter periods! There is also something called the vaginal ring which is a combined ‘pill’ combination that you insert and wear for 3 weeks at a time – it’s much lower dose as it works where you need it! You get that from a family planning clinic as some GP’s have never heard of it! Hope that helps! 🙂

  18. Odette

    November 12, 2017 at 7:42 am

    My period always seems to come a few days before i start taking the placebos. I know that spotting and breakthrough bleeding is common in the first few months, but it has been almost 7 months now and it keeps happening! My body has always acted in a way that deviates from the norm, but should i be worried? Also, is it still effective?

  19. Ellie

    November 27, 2017 at 12:37 am

    Hey everyone,
    I have not been on the pill for the last 2 years. Previously, I was taking Levlen ED which worked well in regulating my periods although I did notice minor weight gain. My legs, ankles, feet and face were puffy all the time, I put it down to water retention (which my doctor agreed with).

    I decided to stop taking the pill because I was worried about putting artificial hormones in my body, I wasn’t sure if it was having any greater negative effects on me. Once I had been off the pill for a couple of months the water weight dropped (looking back now I looked rather different with the weight on even though it wasn’t significant). I also noticed my moods had improved (while on the pill I was not aware of this change), I was happier and more fun to be around and my sex drive returned.

    Now I am in a relationship I was looking at going back on the pill for contraception reasons but did not want to start taking Levlen or anything like it. My very trusted family doctor informed me all cheap versions of the pill will have similar side effects such as the water retention, he mentioned a new pill he had not prescribed much himself but had heard good things from other doctors (Zoeley). He told me it had more natural hormones in it, and psychologists really like this brand because it is said to have less negative side-effects mentally and physically. I wanted a positive experience on the pill so I didn’t mind paying around $85 for 3 months worth (I am a student and can barely afford this), but I was willing to try.

    Once I got home I was excited and I decided to google some reviews, thinking I would find nothing but positive outcomes for everyone who tried it. Unfortunately, 95% were negative, everyone had a very very negative opinion about it and I was extremely worried. Keeping in mind everyone is different I decided to give it a shot because I just spent a small fortune on the brand.

    With great relief I can report to you guys so far I have seen no side-effects at all. I have been on Zoeley for nearly 2 weeks – I know this isn’t long but a lot of women had reported noticing side effects within 3-5 days.
    I was extremely worried going in so I weighed myself, took ankle and leg measurements and kept a diary to document any mood changes I noticed – I have nothing to report. Although, I have made a conscious decision to make sure I am drinking at least a litre of water a day to prevent the water retention.

    In summary, I’d like to say I’m not saying all the women who wrote negative reviews are wrong, I understand everyone is different and unfortunately Zoeley doesn’t work for everyone. But I wanted to add a bit of positivity for the women who are considering trying Zoeley and may be deterred by the negative feedback. You never know until you try – if you notice any negative change, stopping the pill will return you back to normal in no time.

    All the best ladies 🙂

  20. Sam

    February 25, 2018 at 12:28 pm

    Hi All, has anyone experienced the same please? My daughter who is 18 has been on Zoelly for about a year. Over October:November/December she missed her period twice. My GP was On leave , so we checked with the pharmacy and he advised that she stop the pill, get her period and then go back on it again. So she she stopped for a month and then she started again. She has been on it now for 1 month, and just prior to getting her period she had been light headed and nauseous . This is still going on and she is now day 2 with period. It seems to be worse in the morning and comes and goes. Could this be hormone related? Will it pass? She never had any of this when she started taking Zoelly a while back. They reason for her being put on to it was for severe cramps.

  21. Joana

    March 26, 2018 at 2:13 pm

    Thank you for this! Similar thing this side, i’m going back on BC after 6 years without it and am dreading the thought of hormones, but going to start taking Zoely today. How has it been fro you since last nov…?

  22. Ashlee

    July 9, 2018 at 1:28 am

    Hi there, just wondering if anyone has had any symptoms of dry skin while using Zoely? I’ve been taking zoely now for 2 weeks and I have painful acne popping up everywhere on my face, and really dry patches of skin on my face.

    Thank you, Ash xx

  23. Ashley

    December 20, 2018 at 8:23 am

    Anyones period stop after starting zoely? Prior to this i was using feminet for 3 years.

    1. Martina

      January 3, 2019 at 6:38 pm

      Hi there stranger. Yes my period stopped after I started taking Zoely about 2 years ago. It does come and go every other month (I’ve calculated every 3 months) but when I do have my period it comes very light (a single brown-ish annoying drop).

      1. Amber

        May 20, 2020 at 7:51 am

        Hello there! Last time taking the pill I started Yaz, it made me SO light headed, nauseous and fatigued. I couldn’t even get out of bed to go to work. I am started Zoely now. Are you still on it ? Are you experiencing any negativity side effects ? I am very nervous to start. I can live with weight gain. But low labido , acne and nausea I couldn’t do!

        1. Anon

          December 6, 2020 at 2:19 pm

          Can you please tell me your experience on Zoely ? My first combined pill gave me stomach pain, horrible nausea and diarrhea, I stopped taking it after the second day. I was taking it at night with food. The doctor put me on the mini pill because apparently I can’t tolerate he synthetic estrogen from the combined pills (hence the nasty side effects). But so far I have non stop bleeding (it didn’t worsen my acne and I also didn’t gain weight which are both common side effects of this pill) and I was thinking of switching and trying Zoely because it contains a natural estrogen, so maybe I will be able to tolerate that ? What has your experience been like ?

  24. Mikky

    December 19, 2020 at 5:34 am

    I’ve been on Zoely for a year and it’s been AMAZING for me. I’ve tried every pill out there – Diane, Yaz, Microgynon, etc, etc. They all gave me horrible depression and nausea. Yaz made me psycho! Although my skin looked amazing on Yaz and I looked plump. My boobs got huge too. I don’t get those positives with Zoely though, unfortunately…
    But I have had ZERO negative side effects on Zoely. I take it because my periods are debilitating. And on Zoely, I don’t get my periods anymore! I love it!! I wish I could put on weight with it because I’m super skinny, but no weight gain from Zoely for me.

    1. Anon

      December 29, 2020 at 11:51 am

      I’m going to ask for this one in my next appointment with my GYNO! I’m currently on Yasminelle and experiencing side effects. How did Zoely affect your mood ? I’ve tried cezarette (it was supposed to stop my period completely instead I as constantly bleeding) , dienelle (terrible stomach pain, nausea and diarrhea) and now Yasminelle. I’ve been peeing like crazy, I’m also bloated and I’ve noticed that my moods are all over the place. I’m way more aggressive and anxious than before.

  25. mel

    June 25, 2021 at 11:21 pm

    Thank you for writing this article. I have been off the pill for 18 months after going through hell until my body adjusted to being natural again, i have since been suffering adult acne so got very close to going back on the pill. But after reading this you have reminded me that they all are a drug and I have come so far to be off the pill and be natural, the natural way just takes longer when hormones are out of wack. So thank you for the reminder 🙂

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