Pills in a blister pack

The progestogen-only pill (the mini-pill) is taken every single day without any breaks.

It contains a hormone which is very similar to one of women's own hormones.

It needs to be taken at the same time every day.

Effectiveness

Positives

  • Easy to take – one pill a day
  • It doesn’t interrupt sex
  • It’s good at preventing pregnancy
  • Under women's control
  • It’s out of the system quickly once it's stopped
  • It’s even safer than other methods which contain oestrogen
  • It can be used by most women who can't take oestrogen
  • It can help with heavy or painful periods
  • Some women have no periods
  • Can be used when breastfeeding

Negatives

  • Can be difficult to remember

Possible side effects

  • Irregular bleeding
  • Headaches
  • Sore breasts
  • Changes in mood
  • Changes in sex drive

Most women don’t put on weight

Sometimes the pill makes women feel more hungry. Studies show that most women stay the same weight – 1 in 10 women put on weight, and 1 in 10 lose weight while they are on the pill

Women don’t need a break from the progestogen only pill (POP)

It’s safe to take from teenage to the menopause (for most women).  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 the same time every day 

It's good to have a routine which reminds you to take the pill, different pills have different rules for when they should be taken. You can download an app or set a reminder on your phone to help you remember

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. Every woman is unique, and there are different kinds of pills available, so it’s worth trying a few different brands of combined pill to find one which suits

Women don’t need to a period once a month

The POP may stop periods. Blood doesn’t build up inside, because the womb lining stays thin. It can help women feel more energetic if they are not losing iron each month in a period. Find out more about periods here

The POP does not cause infertility

When women come off the POP, fertility returns to normal, 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 as women get older – it’s harder to get pregnant over the age of 35.  Find out more about infertility here

Many women are on the POP for its benefits, even if they don't need it for contraception. 

Many women find the pill fantastic 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 women, 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 implant won’t be suitable, but most women can have it.

What's right for you?

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 women produce in their ovaries.

Pills are taken at the same time every day continuously, 365 days a year – without a break.

You can get the pill for free from your GP, family planning/contraception clinics, and sexual health clinics. Find out more about where to get the mini pill here

The mini pill is quite short acting, so needs to be taken at roughly the same time every day.

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 women 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 women 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 your cervix, (neck of the womb) and makes 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

What's right for you?