The Mini Pill

The progestogen-only pill


The mini pill is a form of contraception that only contains the hormone progestogen and does not contain any oestrogen.

The progestogen-only pill needs to be taken at/or around the same time each day.

The progestogen-only pill acts by thickening the mucus in the cervix; this then prevents sperm from reaching the egg. Depending on the type of mini pill that you are taking, it can also stop ovulation.


What can I expect at my IPSA mini-pill consultation?

Your female IPSA clinic doctor will work alongside you during your full-length mini-pill consultation, holistically, enabling you to decide, after taking her advice into account, on the best form of contraception for you. Your IPSA practitioner, who is skilled in family planning, will examine you, encourage you to ask her any questions regarding contraception, and ensure that your privacy is maintained at all times.


Where can I get my mini pill from?

At your IPSA clinic, you will be counselled by your female IPSA physician on how to take the mini pill, on the side effects and on what to do in case of missed pills. Your IPSA physician will also book you in for follow-up reviews on your contraception; these reviews are at appropriate time intervals.


Facts about the progestogen-only mini pill

  • This type of contraceptive pill can be over 99% effective if taken correctly.
  • The pill has to be taken every day, and there is no break between the packs of pills.
  • If you need a pill that does not contain oestrogen (because, e.g., you may have had previous blood clots, or you may have high blood pressure or you are overweight), then the progestogen-only pill is an alternative.
  • If you are over 35 years old and if you smoke, then you can take the progestogen-only pill.
  • The progestogen-only pill must be taken at the same time every day. It may not be effective if you take it more than three hours late (or, for Cerazette, more than 12 hours late).
  • The progesterone-only pill may not be effective if you vomit (if you are sick) or if you have severe diarrhoea.
  • The effectiveness of the progestogen-only pill may be affected by some medications (ask your IPSA doctor for further details).
  • Lighter, more frequent or irregular periods can be a side effect of the mini pill.
  • Other side effects that usually clear up within a couple of months include breast tenderness and spotty skin.
  • You are not protected against any STIs (sexually transmitted infections) by using the progestogen-only pill. Using condoms combined with the progestogen-only pill will help to protect you against STIs.


The two different types of progestogen-only pill

  • Femulen, Norgeston, Noriday and Micronor are examples of the three-hour progestogen-only pill. These need to be taken within three hours of the same time every day.
  • Cerazette is the 12-hour progestogen-only pill and it needs to be taken within 12 hours of the same time every day.

Each pack of progestogen-only pills consists of 28 pills, and one pill must be taken every day, with no break between the packs of pills. When one pack is finished, the next pack is started on the following day.


Who can use the progestogen-only pill?

Although the majority of women can use the progestogen-only pill, it may not be suitable for you if you have had:

  • Heart disease
  • Breast cancer
  • Ovarian cysts
  • Unexplained vaginal bleeding
  • Liver disease


Advantages: The progestogen-only pill

  • Sex is not interrupted
  • You can take the pill when you are breastfeeding
  • If you cannot take the hormone oestrogen (which is present in the contraceptive patch, the combined pill and the vaginal ring), then the progesterone-only pill can be an alternative
  • If you smoke and are older than 35, you can use this pill
  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms and painful periods can be reduced


Disadvantages: The progestogen-only pill

  • You may have more frequent or lighter periods or they may stop altogether, and you may also get some spotting between your periods
  • You are not protected against STIs
  • It must be taken regularly at or around the same time each day
  • It can be less effective when you are on certain medications (including some types of antibiotics)

If you are thinking of using the mini pill, then book a same-day IPSA mini-pill consultation today.
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