Everything you need to know about the mini-pill

The mini-pill, also called the progestogen-only pill (POP), doesn’t contain any oestrogen.
The mini-pill, also called the progestogen-only pill (POP), doesn’t contain any oestrogen.

What if we told you there was a form of birth control that you could use while breastfeeding, or if your body doesn’t respond well to oestrogen? Well, rejoice because this could be the answer to all your contraceptive prays. Here, everything you need to know about the mini-pill and whether it’s the right oestrogen-free fit for you.

How it works

The mini-pill, also called the progestogen-only pill (POP), doesn’t contain any oestrogen – and there’s no hormone-free interval like there is with the normal Pill.

Dr Elmarie Basson, an obstetrician and gynaecologist, explains that this pill works by thickening the cervical mucus and preventing the migration of sperm. This interferes with implantation by thinning the endometrial lining and preventing ovulation.

Read more: 9 side effects of hormonal birth control every woman should know

Who should try it

The mini-pill is often prescribed for women who are unable to take the combination Pill (oestrogen and progestin). “Anyone for whom oestrogen is contra-indicated or is breastfeeding will benefit from this pill,” explains Dr Basson.

So, it you’re unable to take oestrogen because you have migraines with an aura prior to your period, are obese, suffer from vascular diseases like hypertension, have diabetes or you’re over the age of 35 and smoking, this pill is for you.

What are the disadvantages?

“The biggest disadvantage is breakthrough bleeding,” says Dr Basson. Some patients complain of spotting in between their cycle, or find that their periods don’t start on time. You may also experience breast tenderness, nausea and/or abdominal cramps, but these are only temporary. It’s also common for follicular ovarian cysts to form, but Dr Basson says this doesn’t warrant further treatment.

Read more: “My birth control pills gave me a liver tumour” – this is how it happened

But does it work?

Yes. The mini-pill has basically the same efficacy as the normal Pill – if used correctly. This means you need to take it at the same time every day. The failure rate can be as high as 9% if you mess with this simple schedule, says Dr Basson, but that drops to 1% if you stick to it. Sound daunting? Well, set a time you know you won’t forget, like immediately after supper or at bedtime.

This article was originally published on www.womenshealthsa.co.za

Image credit: iStock 

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