What is mini-pill?

Mini-pills for birth control: Overview

Mini-pills are used to prevent pregnancy. They release a regular dose of the hormone progestin. They are different from regular combination birth control pills, which contain both progestin and estrogen.

Mini-pills come in packs. Every mini-pill in the pack contains progestin. There are no sugar pills. So you have to take a pill every day at the same time to prevent pregnancy, even during your period.

What are the disadvantages of mini-pills for birth control?

  • Mini-pills don't protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as herpes or HIV/AIDS. If you aren't sure if your sex partner might have an STI, use a condom to protect against disease.
  • They may cause irregular periods. You may have spotting between periods. You may also stop getting a period. Some women see having no period as an advantage.
  • Mini-pills may cause mood changes, less interest in sex, or weight gain.
  • You must take a pill at the same time every day to prevent pregnancy.

How can you safely take mini-pills for birth control?

How do you take the mini-pill?

  • Follow your doctor's instructions about when to start taking your pills. It's best to take your first pill on the first day of your period. If you take the first pill another day, use backup birth control, such as a condom, or don't have intercourse for the next 48 hours (2 days).
  • Take every mini-pill in the pack, even during your period. Don't stop taking your pills if you have spotting between periods.
  • Take the pill at the same time every day.
  • Start your next pack the day after the last pack is finished. There is no break between packs. Always have your next pack of pills ready.

What if you forget to take a pill?

Always read the label for specific instructions, or call your doctor. Here are some basic guidelines:

  • If you miss a pill, take it as soon as you remember, even if that means you will take 2 pills in one day. Then go back to your regular schedule.
  • If you take a pill more than 3 hours late, use backup birth control, such as a condom, or don't have intercourse for the next 48 hours to prevent pregnancy.
  • If you had intercourse within 5 days of forgetting to take the pill, you can use emergency contraception to help prevent pregnancy. The most effective emergency contraception is an IUD (inserted by a doctor). You can also get emergency contraceptive pills. You can get them with a prescription from your doctor or without a prescription at most drugstores.

What else do you need to know?

  • The mini-pill can have side effects.
    • You may have changes in your period and your period may stop. You may also have spotting or bleeding between periods.
    • You may have mood changes, less interest in sex, or weight gain.
  • If you vomit or have diarrhea soon after taking a pill, use a backup method or don't have intercourse for 7 days.
  • Check with your doctor before you use any other medicines, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbal products, and supplements. Birth control hormones may not work as well to prevent pregnancy when combined with other medicines.
  • The mini-pill doesn't protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as herpes or HIV/AIDS. If you're not sure whether your sex partner might have an STI, use a condom to protect against disease.

What are mini-pills for birth control?

Mini-pills are used to prevent pregnancy. They release a regular dose of a hormone called progestin. They are different from regular combination birth control pills. Those contain progestin and another hormone called estrogen.

Progestin prevents pregnancy in a few ways. It thickens the mucus in the cervix. This makes it hard for sperm to travel into the uterus. It also thins the lining of the uterus. This makes it harder for a fertilized egg to attach to the uterus.

And progestin can sometimes stop the ovaries from releasing an egg each month (ovulation).

Mini-pills come in packs. Every pill in the pack contains progestin. There are no spacer pills. You have to take a pill every day at the same time to prevent pregnancy. This means you take a pill even when you have your period.

How well do they work?

In the first year of use:

  • When mini-pills are taken exactly as directed, fewer than 1 woman out of 100 has an unplanned pregnancy.
  • When pills are not taken exactly as directed, such as forgetting to take them sometimes, 9 women out of 100 have an unplanned pregnancy.

Be sure to tell your doctor about any health problems you have or medicines you take. He or she can help you choose the birth control method that is right for you.

What are the advantages of using mini-pills for birth control?

  • Mini-pills work better than barrier methods. Barrier methods include condoms and diaphragms.
  • They may cause fewer side effects than combination birth control pills. They may reduce heavy bleeding and cramping.
  • They don't contain estrogen. So you can use them if you don't want to take estrogen. They are also an option if you can't take estrogen because you have certain health problems or concerns.
  • They are safe to use while breastfeeding.
  • You don't have to interrupt sex to use them.

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