Other names: mini pill; POP
What is the progestogen only pill?
The progestogen only pill (POP), often called the mini pill, is a tablet containing a progestogen hormone to help prevent pregnancy.
The progestogen-only pill needs to be taken every day, at the same time each day, with no break between packs of pills.
The progestogen-only pill is a type of short-acting contraceptive
The progestogen-only pill is part of a category of contraceptives called short-acting contraception. Short-acting contraceptives need to be taken frequently – either every time you have sex, daily, weekly or monthly depending on the type.
The progestogen-only pill is a type of short-acting contraception called a short-acting hormonal contraceptive. The combined pill, the progestogen-only pill, the patch and the vaginal ring are all examples of short-acting hormonal contraception.
How does the progestogen-only pill work?
The progestogen-only pill contains a progesterone hormone. When you take the pill, progestogen is released into the bloodstream and prevents pregnancy by:
Thickening the cervical mucus, which stops the sperm from reaching the egg.
Some progestogen-only pills stop the ovaries from releasing eggs.
How effective is the progestogen-only pill at preventing pregnancy?
When taken perfectly, the POP is a very effective method of contraception. However, its ability to prevent pregnancy largely depends on the person using it properly. Forgetting to take the pill or having vomiting or diarrhoea can make the pill less effective.
The Progestogen-only pill is 91% effective with ‘typical use’ meaning that 9 out of 100 using this method for one year will become pregnant. With perfect use it is more than 99% effective. Fewer than 1 in 100 people will get pregnant in a year when using the progestogen-only pill correctly.
What is the progestogen-only pill made of?
The progestogen only pill contains an artificial version of the female hormone progesterone, which is produced naturally in the ovaries. There are different progestogen-only pills available which have different types and doses of progestogen.
Yes. The hormone in the mini pill - progestogen – is released throughout the body. Progestogen-only pills may contain one of the following progestogen hormones: desogestrel, levonorgestrel or norethisterone.
The progestogen-only pill can be a suitable option for women who cannot take oestrogen. You can also take the progestogen-only pill if you're over 35 and you smoke. However, the progestogen only pill is not suitable for everyone. To find out whether the pill is right for you, talk to a GP, nurse or pharmacist.
The mini pill may not be right for you if you:
Think you might be pregnant.
Do not want your periods to change.
Take other medication that may affect the pill.
Have unexplained bleeding in between periods or after sex.
Have arterial disease or heart disease or have had a stroke.
Have liver disease.
Have breast cancer or have had it in the past.
PP-UN-WHC-GB-0078 September 2023