The minipill is a form of birth control. This progestin-only pill is taken by mouth. It works by thickening your cervical mucus, stopping ovulation and thinning your uterine lining.
A minipill (progestin-only pill or POP) is a form of birth control you take by mouth each day to prevent pregnancy. It contains progestin, a man-made (synthetic) version of the hormone progesterone. Unlike other forms of birth control pills that contain both estrogen and progestin, the minipill contains just progestin. The minipill is available by prescription only.
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If you take the minipill at the same time every day, it’s 99% effective. If you skip pills or don’t use the medication exactly as prescribed, it’s 91% effective.
Yes, but only a little. Progestin-only pills don’t prevent ovulation as well as combination birth control pills. Therefore, its effectiveness is slightly lower.
Minipills come in packs of 28 pills. As soon as you get the pills, you can begin to take them. Or, take the first pill during the first five days of your next period. If you take your first pill more than five days after the start of your period, use backup birth control (like a condom) for two days.
Take a minipill once a day at the same time each day (within the same three-hour time frame). When you finish a pack of pills, take a pill from a new pack the very next day. There should be no break between packs of pills.
Once you start, don’t go a day without taking the minipill. If you forget to take a pill by more than three hours, take it as soon as possible (even if that means you’re taking two pills in one day). Also, use a condom or avoid sex for the next two days.
Follow the prescription label. Birth control can only prevent pregnancy when you use it correctly. Ask questions if you don’t understand the dosage instructions or how to take the minipill.
Your body absorbs progestin quicker than other hormonal birth controls, so it’s important to take it at the same time each day. If you miss a pill by more than three hours, you should take it as soon as you remember. Use backup birth control or refrain from sex for two days.
If you vomit or have diarrhea within a few hours of taking the minipill, you should also use backup birth control until two days after your vomiting or diarrhea subsides.
If you’re unsure about what to do in the event of a missed pill, use a backup form of birth control until you can speak with a healthcare provider.
The benefits of the minipill can include:
Yes, you still get your period on the minipill. Your period may be irregular when you start taking the minipill. This is normal. Speak with your healthcare provider if this lasts more than three months.
Some of the disadvantages of the minipill are:
The minipill doesn’t contain estrogen. For some people, this means fewer side effects. However, the minipill may cause unpredictable bleeding for the first few months. You may experience spotting, heavy bleeding or no bleeding at all. Irregular bleeding typically resolves within six months.
Other side effects might include:
Overall, the minipill is safe. However, before taking the minipill:
The minipill is a good birth control option for people who are breastfeeding (chest feeding) or who can’t take estrogen due to certain medical conditions. Other people who may benefit most from the minipill are people who:
You shouldn’t take the minipill if you’re pregnant or think you may be pregnant. The minipill may be harmful to people who have:
Some people take minipills to manage abnormally heavy menstrual periods.
Contact your healthcare provider if:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
The minipill is just one of many birth control options available to people wishing to prevent a pregnancy. Talk to your healthcare provider about if the minipill is right for you based on your health history and lifestyle. It’s important that you take the minipill at the same time each day.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 12/09/2022.
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