The progestogen-only pill (the mini-pill) is taken every single day without any breaks.
It contains a hormone which is very similar to the body's own hormones.
It needs to be taken at roughly the same time every day.
- Easy to take – one pill a day, every day
- It doesn’t interrupt sex
- Good at preventing pregnancy
- Under the user's control
- Can help with heavy or painful periods
- It may mean that periods stop (temporarily)
- Out of the system quickly once it's stopped
- Often suitable for people who can't take oestrogen
- Can be used when breastfeeding
- Can be difficult to remember
- No protection against STIs
Possible side effects
- Irregular bleeding
- Sore breasts
- Changes in mood
- Changes in sex drive
Most don’t put on weight with the progestogen-only pill (POP)
The pill might make you feel more hungry. Most people stay the same weight – 1 in 10 put on weight, and 1 in 10 lose weight while they are on the pill
You don’t need a break from the progestogen only pill
It’s safe to take from teenage to the menopause (for most people). It’s fine to have been on the pill from a young age, and for many years – there is no need for a break
You need to take it at roughly the same time every day (within a 3 or 12 hour 'window', depending on the brand).
It's good to have a routine which reminds you to take the pill. An app or phone reminder might be useful.
Not all pills are right for everyone
One pill might suit someone really well, and another might cause moodiness, hunger, nausea, or less desire for sex. There are different kinds of pills available, so it’s worth trying a few different brands of combined pill to find one which suits
The POP may stop periods, but it's not necessary to have a period once a month.
Blood doesn’t build up inside, because the womb lining stays thin. It can be good for energy levels if there is no bleeding and no loss of iron every month with the period. Find out more about periods here
The POP does not cause infertility
Fertility returns to normal on stopping the POP, meaning that it’s possible to get pregnant within a few days or weeks. It’s important to know that it’s less easy to get pregnant with age – it’s harder to get pregnant over the age of 35. Find out more about infertility here
Many people take the POP for its benefits, even if they don't need it for contraception.
The pill can be good for controlling period pain, and to level out the moodiness of premenstrual tension
Mood changes can happen on the POP e.g. depression, anger, tearfulness. Different brands of pill suit different people, so it's worth trying another if this happens
A clinic visit is needed to ask about any problems with your health and family history
Some health problems mean that the POP won’t be suitable, but most can have it.
Good to know
The Progestogen only contraceptive pill (POP), sometimes called the “mini pill” contains a hormone called progestogen. This is similar to one of the hormones produced from the ovaries.
Progestogen-only pills are taken at roughly the same time every day without a break.
The POP is quite short acting, so needs to be taken at roughly the same time every day. There is either a 12 hour or a 3 hour 'window' in which to take it.
You can get contraception free in the UK, from a GP, or sexual health clinics. Find out more about where to get the mini pill here
How effective is the POP?
If the pill is taken at the right time without missing any, no episodes of vomiting or diarrhoea, no other medications that could make the pill less effective, it is more than 99% effective – meaning that out of 100 people taking the pill, less than 1 will have an unintended pregnancy per year. However, allowing for the ups and downs of life – the average user can expect it to be around 92% effective – meaning that out of 100 people taking the pill around 8 will have an unintended pregnancy per year.
How does it work?
Some progestogen only pills temporarily stop your ovaries from releasing an egg each month, so periods may be less frequent, or stop temporarily. The main way the mini-pill works is by thickening the mucus from the cervix, (neck of the womb) and making the lining of the womb thinner so that it is much less likely a fertilised egg will settle and grow. To find out more about how the body works, click here