Mini pill - progestogen only pill
The mini-pill, also known as the progestogen only pill, or POP, uses a single synthetic progesterone hormone to prevent unwanted pregnancy. The hormone increases your body’s natural production of cervical mucus to block sperm from entering the womb.
The hormone used in some more modern mini can also stop ovulation (the monthly release of an egg from your ovaries). Because mini pills contain low doses of a single hormone, the side effects are usually quite light. They can be used if you are breastfeeding and if you are oestrogen intolerant. If you use the mini pill correctly, i.e. in accordance with our GP’s instructions, it will protect against pregnancy 99% of the time.
How the mini pill works
When you swallow the mini pill it releases a small amount of a synthetic progesterone hormone into your body. The increased level of hormones causes certain changes in the female menstruation cycle and related bodily functions. The consistency of the natural cervical mucus becomes thicker, blocking the entrance to the womb and preventing sperm from entering and fertilising an egg (conception or the beginning of pregnancy).
Some mini pills contain an artificial hormone called desogestrel. This may also prevent ovulation, potentially increasing the effectiveness of the mini pill. If you are prescribed a mini pill you will need to develop a solid daily routine for taking the pill. Some mini pills need to be taken within 3 hours of a set time each day.
Who can use the mini pill?
The mini pill was developed after women experienced unwanted side effects when taking the combined pill. Besides physical discomfort, some women suffered from extreme mood swings, others lost interest in sex. This is due to the impact the additional hormones had on their bodies. Today women, who are severely affected by the hormone intake or have certain risk factors, that prevent them from taking the pill, can request the mini pill as an alternative, which does not make use of oestrogen and impacts the menstruation cycle much less.
The mini pill may be suitable for very young women, as well as women over the age of 35. Smokers who are interested in a hormonal contraceptive method may be prescribed the mini pill. Also women who are oestrogen intolerant, seriously overweight, or are at risk of thrombosis are more likely to be prescribed the mini pill than the combined pill. Mini pills may also be suited when you are breastfeeding.
When you complete our short online medical questionnaire be sure to answer all the questions correctly. Our duty GP will review your health profile and check whether you suffer from any conditions that would prevent us from renewing your prescription. If you meet the statutory health requirements, your order will be processed immediately. Checkout price includes prescription, contraceptive pills and next day delivery by UPS courier.
How do I use mini pills?
Swallow one pill every day with a glass of water, as directed on the packet. It is important to establish a routine and take each pill at a set time, e.g first thing in the morning when you brush your teeth.
Mini pills - or POPs - contain a low dose of progesterone hormone, which may vary according to the brand of pills. Because the dosage is low, you have to be organised enough to take them at the same time every day. There are two kinds of mini pill:
- 3 hour pill - take within 3 hours of the set time
- 12 hour pill - take within 12 hours of the set time
If your daily routine is unpredictable, or you are disorganised, a 12 hour pill may give you more leeway.
How effective are mini pills?
Mini pills are a highly effective form of oral contraception if you use them correctly. Its success rate in preventing pregnancy is comparable to that of the combined pill. The pearl index, which is used to determine a contraceptives’ level of protection varies from type to type and reaches similar numbers as for pills combining two hormones. Progestogen-only pills using Desogestrel are considered to provide a higher level of safety, based on the pear index.
It is important to read the manufacturer’s leaflet that comes with your order. Keep it with your pills and don’t throw it away. If you forget to take a pill, or in case of vomiting or diarrhea, it is recommended that you use a barrier method (i.e. condom) in addition to the pill for the following seven days. The leaflet gives precise instructions about how to avoid getting pregnant if this happens.
What are the advantages of mini pills?
The main advantage attributed to the mini pill is the lower amount of hormones taken, which means less impact on the natural cycle and in turn reduces side effects and their intensity. At the same time this type of pill provides almost the same level of safety as the combined pill. Develop a simple daily routine of taking a pill every single day at exactly the same time.
Mini pills also have some other specific advantages, you can generally use mini pills:
- If you are breastfeeding. The progestogen does not enter the breast milk.
- Up to your menopause (approximate onset age 45) even if you are a smoker.
- If you are seriously overweight (BMI 35+).
- If you are estrogen intolerant.
Is there a risk of side effects with mini pills?
As with all prescription medicines, there is a risk of side effects if you take the mini pill. Compared to combined pills and other forms of hormonal contraception, these risks are lower. Mini pills contain a small dosage of a single synthetic progesterone hormone and the side effects are usually mild. Only about 10% of women suffer from concomitant reactions.
As you will see, some reactions may be the opposite to how the conventional pill affects the body, while others are basically the same. Please inform yourself and be aware of any possible unwelcome effects before you take the mini pill. Common side effects include:
- Soreness in your breasts
- Changes to your libido or sex drive
- Mood changes
- Nausea or vomiting
- Ovarian cysts
You have the possibility to consult our GP free of charge through the ‘Ask-a-doctor’ function in your DoktorABC account.
What precautions to take with the mini pill
The mini pill is a well established form of contraception used by millions of women across the world. If it is used correctly, it is safe and effective, with a low risk of serious side effects. As with any prescription medicine, there are certain precautions that you should take:
- Be open about any health problems when you fill in the short online medical questionnaire at DoktorABC.
- Follow our online GP’s instructions exactly.
- Read the manufacturer's pamphlet that comes in the packet. Keep it with your pills.
- Set a fixed daily routine for taking your pills.
- Read the manufacturer's pamphlet and take extra precautions if you suffer from vomiting or diarrhea.
- Immediately check the manufacturer's leaflet for instructions if you forget to take a pill and add protection.
- Consult our online GP if you gain weight and your BMI (body mass index) is over 35.
- Seek immediate medical assistance if you think that you are experiencing any side effects. In an emergency dial 999.
The pill allows you to have sex whenever you want with almost no risk of pregnancy. It doesn’t protect against sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, chlamydia and genital warts. If you think that you may be at risk of contracting an STI, you should use a condom.
Top Tip: Many women use the alarm function on their mobile phones to make sure they remember to take their mini pill at the correct time. If you carry your birth control in your purse with you at all times, this will help you build a habit and not miss the hour.