Switching from Marvelon to Mercilon

Mercilon_PackshotOk, so I’m making the switch from Marvelon to Mercilon. It should be ok, since it’s the same contents just at a lower dosage. As I said previously, they both contain ethinylestradiol and desogestrel but Marvelon has 30 micrograms and Mercilon has 20 micrograms. I talked to my sister and she seems to remember that this was the pill she was on for awhile without major problems — and she’s more sensitive than I am to headaches, bloating, and stuff.

I messed up the switch though. When starting this new pill, I should have skipped the “off” week. These packs contain 21 pills and after you complete a pack, you have 7 days where you don’t take anything. However, if you are starting a new pill you should go ahead and start the new pill, so there is no gap between the pills. Now that I’ve started Mercilon essentially 7 days late, I have to follow the instructions for 7 missed pills and wait 7 more days until I’m fully protected from getting pregnant. Here’s what I found online:

What do I do if I miss a pill?
If you forget to take your pill at your usual time, take it as soon as you remember. A missed pill is one that is 24 hours or more late. If you miss a pill, follow the instructions below.

One pill missed
If you forget to take ONE pill, or start your new pack one day late, you should take the pill you missed as soon as possible, even if this means taking two pills at the same time. Then continue taking the rest of the pack as normal. You will still be protected against pregnancy and you don’t need to use extra contraception.

Two or more pills missed

If you forget to take TWO or more pills, or start your new pack two or more days late, you won’t be protected against pregnancy. You should take the last pill you missed as soon as possible, even if this means taking two pills at the same time. Leave out the other missed ones. Then continue to take your pills, one every day, as normal. You should either not have sex, or use an extra barrier method of contraception, eg condoms, for the next seven days.

If there are fewer than seven pills left in your pack after your last missed pill, you should finish the pack and then start a new pack straight away without a break. This means skipping your pill-free week.

Source: NetDoctor

I wish there wasn’t such a significant difference in price. These pills cost 68 rmb, I think, and before I was paying less than 30 rmb for a pack of Marvelon. Oh well. It’s the fucking evil pharmacy companies taking advantage of a corner on the market here.

Treating Bladder Infections in China

I asked Dr. Katherine to email me some information about treating bladder infections. There are a few different treatments and Katherine’s given us the Chinese hanzi as well as pinyin. You should be able to ask at any pharmacy and purchase these drugs over the counter.

Bladder infections are also known as urinary tract infections (UTI). The Mandarin Chinese for “urinary tract infection” is “尿路感染” (niao4 lu4 gan3 ran3). Anyway, hope this helps someone out!

Urinary tract infection (UTI) uncomplicated

The classic symptoms of urinary tract infection (UTI) in women are dysuria, frequency, and urgency. If there is fever, flank pain, blood in urine present, or the symptoms exist a long duration, it may be a more complicated case and one should seek professional help.


One of the following:

  • Trimethoprim sulfamethoxazole double strength (D.S.) 1 twice a day (BID) x 3 days
    = Co-trimoxazole 复方新诺明 fu4 fang1 xin1 nuo4 ming2
  • Trimethoprim 100 mg 1 twice daily x 3 days

If allergic to sulfa or trimethoprim:

  • Nitrofurantoin (Macrobid) 100 mg twice daily x 7 days
    = Nitrofurantoin 呋喃妥因 fu1 nan2 tuo3 yin1
  • Ciprofloxacin 250 mg BID x 3 days
    = Ciprofloxacin 环丙沙星 huan2 bing3 sha1 xing1

UPDATE: We managed to find at least one of these over-the-counter. So just try asking the pharmacist to help you look for these medicines.

Again, if you have questions about any of this, please let me know. I can also put you in touch with my friend Katherine, an American doctor here in Kunming. I’d also be interested in hearing about any experience — bad or otherwise — with any of the products mentioned here. Please leave a comment or email me at

Trip to a Pharmacy in Kunming, China

Spent part of the afternoon in a pharmacy with Katherine, an American friend who is a doctor. A while ago I was talking to her about the great response to my posts about birth control (Sept. 15, 2006 and Nov. 13, 2006) and she was interested in digging a little deeper to see what’s available here.

We went to a Kunming pharmacy called 健之佳 (jiàn zhī jiā) and asked about birth control, both oral contraception and barrier methods. We also checked into treatment for yeast infections. It’s all quite available if you know what to ask for.

birth control – 避孕 (bì yùn, bi4 yun4)
condom – 避孕套 (bì yùn tào, bi4 yun4 tao4)
emergency contraception – 事后紧急避孕药 (shì hòu jǐn jí bì yùn yào, shi4 hou4 jin3 ji2 bi4 yun4 yao4)
lubricant – 润滑剂 (rùn huá jì, run4 hua2 ji4)
oral contraception – 避孕药 (bì yùn yào, bi4 yun4 yao4)
spermicide – 杀精剂 (shā jīng jì, sha1 jing1 ji4)

Oral Contraception, 避孕药 (bì yùn yào, bi4 yun4 yao4) – We found three types of oral contraception:

1. Marvelon, 吗富隆 (ma3 fù lóng, ma3 fu4 long2) – This is the brand name for the daily pill. An international company. It is a monophasic pill, every pill is the same: active ingredients are ethinylestradiol 30 micrograms, desogestrel 150 micrograms. You can start taking this pill the Sunday after your period starts. Take one pill every day at the same time. There are 21 pills in a pack. After you finish 21 pills, you should wait 7 days to start a new pack. You should have your period during this week. Price is 16 RMB/box (1 month). For more information (including information about what to do if you miss a pill), you can go to Marvelon’s Canadian website and you’ll need to enter 898599 as the DIN to enter the website.

2. 月悦安 (yuè re ān, yue4 re4 an1) – This brand is also an oral contraceptive. It contains levonorgestrel (6mg) and quinestrol (3mg). I was pretty mystified by the instructions for this one. It is 4 pills a month, but it’s not entirely clear to me how to take them. Try this website for instructions. It discusses the generic brand, Yue Ke Ting. Price is 12.9 RMB/box (1 month).

3. Mifolian, 弗乃尓 (fu2 nai3 ?) – This is emergency contraception, confirmed by the English on the box. The active ingredient is 25 mg of mifepristone. This is the same drug that was known as RU-486. I’m not sure about the instructions for use. Price is 15.8 RMB/box (1 pill).

You can find Durex brand condoms here. We found boxes with English. Most of the time the lubricant seems to be non-spermicidal. The only condoms I found with spermicidal lubricant were Durex brand “Performa” with 5% benzocaine. For a box of 12, the prices ranged from 37 – 49 RMB.

Jissbon, 杰士邦 (jie2 shi4 bang1) is another brand of condoms you can find here. Again, we found English on the box. All of them seemed to be non-spermicidal lubricant.

Remember if you buy lubricant that you plan to use with a condom, it must be water-based. If you use an oil-based lubricant, the condom is NOT effective — either as a birth control method or for protection against sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s).

Finally, I asked about treating yeast infections. You can buy a standard one-dose remedy over the counter. The active ingredient is 50 mg of fluconazole. Katherine recommended a single dose of 150 mg, which is three pills. The Chinese name on the box was 氟康唑 (fu2 kang1 zuo). The price was 6.8 RMB/box (6 pills, 50 mg).

Ok, more to come about bladder infections. Aren’t you excited?

If you have questions about any of this, please let me know. I can also put you in touch with my friend Katherine, an American doctor here in Kunming. I’d also be interested in hearing about any experience — bad or otherwise — with any of the products mentioned here. Please leave a comment or email me at