Minipill

THE BASICS

What is it?


Progestin-only pills (POP) are also called minipills. They contain a form of the hormone progesterone called progestin. The dose of progesterone is lower than in combined pills, which also contain estrogen.

You take one pill each day, even during your period.

How well does it prevent pregnancy?

An effective form of birth control, but not as reliable as the implant, hormonal IUD, copper IUD, sterilization for men or women, or combined oral contraceptive pills.

About 7 out of 100 women using minipills get pregnant in a year of use.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

Prevents the monthly release of an egg from the ovaries (ovulation) in most women. Progesterone also thickens the mucus in your cervix. This stops sperm from entering the uterus. The lining of the uterus also becomes thinner.

You need to be very careful about taking these pills every day at the same time to prevent pregnancy. If you don’t take the pills regularly, you are more likely to become pregnant.

WHAT ARE SOME PRODUCT NAMES?

Brands include Micronor, Nor-QD, and generics.

PROS

  • Effective birth control.
  • Safe if you want to use pills, but can’t use birth control with estrogen because you:
    • Are a smoker over 35
    • Have had a blood clot (deep vein thrombosis or venous thromboembolism) or stroke
    • Have had serious side effects from estrogen
    • Have coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, or lupus
  • Safe if you recently had a baby or are breastfeeding.
  • Sex can be spontaneous.
  • Reversible. Stop taking the pills if you want to try to get pregnant.

CONS

  • You have to take a pill every day at about the same time each day. This method becomes less effective if you don’t take pills on time every day.
  • If privacy is a concern, you may prefer another method.
  • Your periods may not be regular. You may have spotting at unexpected times or even stop having periods. You’ll need to call your doctor if you think you might be pregnant. Signs of pregnancy include breast tenderness and nausea (“morning sickness”).
  • No-go with some health issues and medicines:
    • Breast cancer within the last five years
    • Serious liver disease
    • Certain seizure medicines

POSSIBLE CONCERNS

Possible side effects include:

  • Acne
  • Headache
  • Weight gain
  • Breast tenderness
  • Mood changes, such as feeling more emotional or depressed

EXTRA BENEFITS

  • Can reduce heavy menstrual bleeding, painful periods, and anemia.
  • Even if you have normal periods, you may bleed less. About 10 out of every 100 women stop having periods.
  • May improve:
    • Endometriosis
    • Irregular periods