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The pros and cons of the mini pill

Also known as the progestogen-only pill, the mini pill is an effective means of preventing unwanted pregnancies. Unlike the combined pill, which also contains oestrogen, this oral contraceptive only contains progestogen.

The mini pill works by thickening the mucus at the entrance to the womb, making it more difficult for sperm to get through and reach an egg. Some varieties of the contraceptive also stop ovulation from occurring. The progestogen-only pill is often suitable for women who can’t take pills containing oestrogen, such as those who have high blood pressure, a history of blood clots or who are overweight.

As with all forms of birth control, this pill is associated with a range of advantages and disadvantages. This brief guide talks you through the most important.

Pros

  • If taken correctly, it is more than 99 per cent effective.

  • Like all types of oral contraceptive, the mini pill doesn’t interrupt sex.

  • It can be used at any age, even if you smoke and are 35 or over.

  • It can reduce the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome and make periods less painful.

  • You can use it even if you’re breastfeeding. Small amounts of progestogen may pass to your baby through your milk, but this is not harmful to your baby. Also, this hormone does not affect the way your breast milk is produced.

Cons

  • One of the main issues to bear in mind if you choose to use the mini pill is the fact that you have to remember to take it at the same time each day. If you take it more than three hours late (or 12 hours if you’re on Cerazette), it may not be effective. This is more precise than the combined pill.

  • You may find your periods are irregular on this pill. They might be lighter, more frequent or they could stop. You may also get spotting between your periods.

  • Some medications, including certain types of antibiotic, can make this oral contraceptive less effective.

  • Although rare, possible side effects include acne, mood changes, headaches, nausea, breast tenderness and enlargement, weight gain and stomach upsets.

However, bear in mind that if you do experience side effects, they should improve or stop within a few months.

Deciding which contraceptive to use can be difficult. If you’re not sure if the mini pill is right for you, speak to a trained healthcare professional. They should be able to provide you with all the information you need.

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