• Dr. Sally

Progestin-Only Pills "Minipill"

The minipill is a hormonal method of birth control that is taken by mouth every day. The minipill only contains one hormone -- a progestin.

How does it work?

The hormone in the minipill acts similarly to the body’s naturally-occurring hormone, progesterone. It causes thickening of the mucus in the cervix and thinning of the uterine lining. Together, these effects make it hard for sperm to get to an egg, and hard for an egg to implant in the uterine wall.

How well does it work?

When taken correctly, the minipill is more than 99% effective. However, most people don’t take it perfectly and may be late or miss pills, so the minipill is 91% effective with typical use.

The minipill does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

How do I take it?

Consistency is key with the minipill. The minipill should be taken at the same time every day.

All of the pills in the 28-day pack contain hormone. Because of this, the minipill must be taken every single day, 365 days a year, with no skipped pills.

What if I forget to take it on time?

If you are more than 3 hours late taking a minipill, you should take the late or most recently missed pill as soon as you remember and resume the regular schedule. You'll need to use a backup method of birth control like condoms or don't have sex for the next 48 hours until the minipill is reliably preventing pregnancy.

What are some side effects I might experience?

The most common side effect of the minipill is changes in bleeding patterns. This can include breakthrough bleeding and spotting, or not having a period at all. This is normal and expected.

The minipill can also cause changes in mood, skin, or appetite, but these are not as common. If you experience some side effects, do not despair - they typically go away after 2 to 3 months of using the minipill.

What if I want to get pregnant soon?

The minipill is a good option if you are planning on trying to get pregnant within the next year. It is possible to get pregnant right after stopping the minipill.

Is it right for me?

The minipill is safe for most women.  Some health conditions make it unsafe to use the pill but the minipill can be used instead (examples: history of blood clots, high blood pressure, and smoker over age 35).

Connect to learn more about our work to expand access to birth control. Or email us.

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