Progestogen Only Pill (POP)

Posted in Health Information Brochures

The POP (sometimes also called the mini-pill) is an oral hormonal contraceptive pill which contains a low dose of progestogen. The POP is taken continuously and at the same time every day in order to prevent pregnancy. It is different to the combined pill (‘the pill’) which contains two hormones, oestrogen and progestogen.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

The POP works by making the mucous produced by the cervix thicker, so that sperm cannot get into the uterus (womb) and fertilise an egg.

HOW EFFECTIVE IS IT?

It is thought to be between 91% - 99% effective in preventing pregnancy. This means that if 100 women were using the POP for a year, between 1 and 9 women would get pregnant. Effectiveness is very dependent on how well the pill is taken. The POP is more effective in women over 40 years.

WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF THE POP?

  • It is a low dose oral contraceptive.
  • It has minimal side effects.
  • It is easily reversible on stopping.
  • It can be used while breastfeeding.
  • It can be used by women who cannot take oestrogen.
  • It will not mask menopause symptoms.

WHAT ARE THE DISADVANTAGES OF THE POP?

  • It needs to be taken strictly at the same time every day.
  • It doesn’t protect against sexually transmissible infections.
  • Taking the POP can change your periods, some women may experience regular periods, while others experience irregular bleeding. 

WHEN DO I START TAKING IT?

You will need to discuss starting the POP with your prescribing doctor. The POP needs to be taken strictly at the same time every day. Choose a time that it is easiest for you to remember. It can be helpful to use an alarm or reminder system to help you remember to do this.

WHAT DO I DO IF I MISS A PILL?

If you are more than three hours late taking the POP you could get pregnant. You should take the late pill as soon as you remember and then take the next pill at the correct time. Use additional contraceptive precautions (condoms) or avoid sex for the following 48 hours.

If you had sex when you were not protected you should consider using the emergency contraceptive pill, available at pharmacies without a prescription (see our information brochure on Emergency Contraception).

WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I AM VOMITING?

If you vomit within two hours of taking the POP you should take another pill straight away. If you vomit the second pill you will need to use condoms or avoid sex until you have taken the next three pills at the correct time. If you have severe diarrhoea you should follow the missed pill advice.

WHAT IF I’M TAKING OTHER MEDICATIONS?

Some medications and herbal preparations may stop the progestogen-only pill working, this should be discussed with your prescribing doctor.

WHAT SIDE EFFECTS MIGHT I EXPECT?

The POP has very few side effect. The main side effect which may occur is a changed bleeding pattern. This might be irregular bleeding, missed periods or sometimes no periods. Some women who take the POP report mood changes and weight gain but there is no current evidence that the POP causes these side effects.


PROGESTOGEN ONLY PILL (POP) BROCHURE PDF

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Last updated Feb 2019

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