Mini Oral Contraceptive Pill

Mini Oral Contraceptive Pill

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Table of contents
OverviewHow does the Mini pill work?Effectiveness of the MinipillHow to take the MinipillStarting the MinipillWhat to do if you miss a pillPossible side effects of the MinipillWho can use the Minipill?Additional benefits of the MinipillFrequently asked questions about the Mini Oral Contraceptive PillConclusionSources
Navin Khosla NowPatientGreen tick
Medically reviewed by Navin Khosla, BPharm and written by Rajive Patel, BPharm - Updated on 26 Jan 2024
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The minipill, also known as the progestogen-only pill (POP), is a type of birth control pill that contains the hormone progestogen but does not contain oestrogen (estrogen). Unlike combination birth control pills, which contain both progestogen and estrogen, the minipill only contains progestogen. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore everything you need to know about this method of contraception, including its effectiveness, how it works, how to take it, potential side effects, and who it is best suited for.

How does the Mini pill work?

The minipill works by thickening the mucus in the cervix, making it difficult for sperm to reach an egg. It also thins the lining of the uterus, which can prevent implantation of a fertilized egg. Depending on the type of progestogen-only pill you take, it may also suppress ovulation, preventing the release of an egg from the ovaries.

Effectiveness of the Minipill

When taken correctly, the minipill is highly effective at preventing pregnancy. If taken at the same time every day, it can be more than 99% effective. However, in real-life use, where pills may be missed or not taken at the exact same time each day, the effectiveness drops to around 92%. It is important to take the minipill consistently and as prescribed to ensure maximum effectiveness.

How to take the Minipill

The minipill should be taken every day at the same time. There are two types of progestogen-only pills: the 3-hour pill and the 12-hour pill. The 3-hour pill, such as Norgeston and Noriday, must be taken within 3 hours of the same time each day. The 12-hour pill, such as Cerazette (desogestrel), must be taken within 12 hours of the same time each day. It is crucial to follow the instructions that come with your pill packet and to take the pill consistently to maintain its effectiveness.

Starting the Minipill

You can start taking the minipill at any time in your menstrual cycle. If you start on the first day of your period, it will work immediately, and you will not need additional contraception. If you start on day 5 of your menstrual cycle or earlier, you will also be protected from pregnancy right away, unless you have a short menstrual cycle (every 23 days or less), in which case you will need additional contraception for the first 2 days. If you start the minipill on any other day of your cycle, you will need extra contraception for the first 2 days.

What to do if you miss a pill

If you forget to take a pill, the action you should take depends on the type of minipill you are taking and how long ago you missed the pill. If you are taking the 3-hour pill and are less than 3 hours late, take the missed pill as soon as you remember and continue taking the rest of the pills as normal. If you are more than 12 hours late, take the missed pill as soon as you remember (if you missed more than one, take only one) and continue with the rest of the pills. In both cases, use extra contraception such as condoms for 2 days. If you are taking the 12-hour pill, follow the same guidelines but adjust the time frame to within 12 hours.

It is important to understand that the progestogen-only pill will not protect you against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). You are advised to use condoms and the progestogen-only pill to protect yourself. Speak to your healthcare provider, GP, or visit a sexual health or family planning clinic for further advice.

Possible side effects of the Minipill

Like any medication, the minipill can have side effects, although they may vary from person to person. Some common side effects of the minipill include spotty skin, breast tenderness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, fatigue, headaches, depression, lower sex drive, tender breasts, ovarian cysts, irregular bleeding between periods, skipped periods, mood swings, dizziness, and thinning hair. It is important to note that these side effects are usually temporary and should subside within a few months of starting the minipill.

Who can use the Minipill?

The minipill is a suitable form of contraception for almost everyone, including those who have health conditions that may prevent them from using contraception containing estrogen. It is often recommended for individuals who are breastfeeding, as it does not have a negative impact on milk production. Additionally, the minipill may be a safer option for individuals over the age of 35 who smoke, have high blood pressure, a history of blood clots or suffer from migraines. However, there are certain circumstances in which the minipill may not be suitable, such as if you have had breast cancer, liver disease, unexplained vaginal bleeding, or certain medications that may interact with the minipill’s effectiveness. It is essential to discuss your medical history with your healthcare provider before starting the minipill.

Additional benefits of the Minipill

In addition to preventing pregnancy, the minipill offers several other benefits. It can help reduce heavy or painful periods, making them lighter and more manageable. The minipill may also be beneficial for individuals with certain skin conditions, such as estrogen dermatitis, which is related to hormonal fluctuations during the menstrual cycle. Furthermore, the minipill is a reversible form of birth control, and fertility can return quickly after stopping its use, allowing individuals to plan for pregnancy when they are ready.

Frequently asked questions about the Mini Oral Contraceptive Pill

What is the Mini Oral Contraceptive Pill?

The mini-pill is a type of hormonal contraceptive that contains only progestin, a synthetic form of the hormone progesterone. It works by thickening the cervical mucus, which makes it difficult for sperm to reach the egg. Additionally, the mini-pill thins the lining of the uterus, making it less receptive to implantation.

How does the Mini Pill differ from Combination Pills?

One of the main differences between the mini-pill and combination pills is the absence of estrogen in the former. Combination pills, as the name suggests, contain both progestin and estrogen. The mini-pill is often recommended for women who cannot tolerate or have contraindications to estrogen. Additionally, the mini-pill may be associated with a more irregular bleeding pattern compared to combination pills.

Does the Mini Pill cause weight gain?

One common concern associated with birth control pills, including the mini-pill, is weight gain. However, it is important to note that there is no substantial evidence linking the mini-pill to weight gain. While some individuals may experience changes in weight while using the mini-pill, these changes are often due to other factors such as lifestyle, genetics, or hormonal fluctuations.

Can the Mini Pill affect fertility?

One of the most frequently asked questions about the mini-pill is whether it can impact fertility in the long term. The answer is no. Unlike some other forms of contraception, the mini-pill does not have any long-term effects on fertility. However, it is important to note that fertility naturally declines with age for both men and women.

How does the Mini Pill affect sex drive?

Another common concern is whether the mini-pill can affect libido or sex drive. While individual experiences may vary, studies have shown that birth control, including the mini-pill, is not significantly associated with changes in sex drive. It is worth mentioning that various factors such as relationship dynamics, stress, or other medications can influence sexual desire.

What are the potential side effects of the Mini Pill?

As with any medication, the mini-pill may have potential side effects, although they are generally well-tolerated. Some individuals may experience irregular bleeding, headaches, breast tenderness, or mood changes. However, it is important to remember that each person may react differently to the mini-pill, and not everyone will experience these side effects.

Is it necessary to take the Mini Pill at the same time every day?

Consistency is key when it comes to taking the mini-pill, but it does not necessarily have to be at the exact same time every day. Some mini-pills require strict adherence to a specific dosing schedule, while others are more forgiving. It is important to follow the instructions provided by your healthcare provider or the medication packaging to ensure maximum effectiveness.

What should I do If I forget to take a Mini Pill?

Forgetting to take a mini-pill can happen, and it is important to know what steps to take. If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember, even if it means taking two pills in one day. If you miss two or more pills, consult your healthcare provider for further guidance. Use additional contraception, such as condoms, for the next 48 hours to ensure protection. If you have had unprotected sex, speak to your health care provider for which emergency contraception to use.

Can I skip my period while taking the Mini Pill?

One of the advantages of the mini-pill is its flexibility in managing menstruation. Unlike combination pills, which often have a scheduled week of placebo pills, the mini-pill can be taken continuously without the need for a withdrawal bleed. This means that you have the option to skip your period by starting a new pack of pills right after finishing one.

What are the pros and cons of the Mini Pill?

Like any form of contraception, the mini-pill has its pros and cons. Some advantages include its high effectiveness when taken correctly, its suitability for individuals who cannot tolerate estrogen, and its flexibility in managing menstruation. On the other hand, some disadvantages include the need for strict adherence to the dosing schedule, potential side effects, and the possibility of irregular bleeding.

How do I choose the right Mini Pill?

Choosing the right mini-pill involves considering various factors such as your medical history, lifestyle, and personal preferences. Different brands of mini-pills may contain slightly different formulations of progestin, which can affect how your body responds to the medication. It is important to consult with your healthcare provider to determine the most suitable option for you.

What should I do if I experience side effects with the Mini Pill?

If you experience any side effects while using the mini-pill, it is important to communicate with your healthcare provider. They can provide guidance, offer alternative contraceptive options, or adjust the dosage or formulation of the mini-pill to help alleviate any unwanted symptoms. It is crucial to prioritize your comfort and well-being when it comes to contraception.


The minipill, or progestogen-only pill, is a highly effective form of birth control when taken correctly. It works by thickening cervical mucus, preventing sperm from reaching an egg, and may also suppress ovulation. It is important to take the minipill consistently at the same time each day to maintain its effectiveness. While the minipill may have potential side effects, they are usually temporary and should subside within a few months. The minipill is a suitable option for many individuals, including those who are breastfeeding or have certain health conditions. As always, it is essential to discuss your specific circumstances with your healthcare provider to determine if the minipill is the right choice for you.


Medical Disclaimer

NowPatient has taken all reasonable steps to ensure that all material is factually accurate, complete, and current. However, the knowledge and experience of a qualified healthcare professional should always be sought after instead of using the information in this page. Before taking any drug, you should always speak to your doctor or another qualified healthcare provider.

The information provided here about medications is subject to change and is not meant to include all uses, precautions, warnings, directions, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or negative effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a particular medication does not imply that the medication or medication combination is appropriate for all patients or for all possible purposes.

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