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Progestin-Only Pills

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Updated May 28, 2014

Progestin-Only Pills

Progestin-Only Pills

Photo © 2009 Dawn Stacey

Definition:

These pills are a type of oral contraceptive (birth control pill) that contain a synthetic form of the progesterone hormone and have no estrogen.

Also Known As:

The Mini-Pill and POP (Progestin-Only Pill)

Pack Size:

The Mini-Pill is only available in a 28-day pack. A woman will take a pill every day for the 4 week cycle, and all 28 pills are considered active. Active pills contain the hormone that prevents a woman from becoming pregnant. Menstruation usually occurs during the fourth week even though the woman is still taking active pills.

Comparison to Combination Pills:

Progestin-only pills are slightly less effective than the combined pill; however, they also tend to cause less side effects.

How They Work:

POP’s may prevent a woman's body from releasing an egg during her monthly menstrual cycle. However, ovulation may not be always be stopped by these pills.

Candidates for Progestin-Only Pills:

Because mini-pills do not contain estrogen, they can be a good alternative for women who can not use combined oral contraceptives. These include:
  • Cigarette smokers over the age of 35
  • Women with a history of blood clots
  • Women with high blood pressure
  • Women who experience extreme migraine headaches
Additionally, Progestin-only pills can be prescribed for breast-feeding mothers since the hormone will not negatively affect milk production or harm a baby during nursing. In fact, studies have shown that POP’s may actually help increase the amount of milk produced.

Progestin Types:

There are typically 2 different types of progestin hormones found in mini-pills that mimic the natural hormone of progesterone.

POPS’s can contain the following synthetic hormones:

1. Norethindrone - the following brand name pills contain this hormone:

  • Ortho Micronor
  • Errin
  • Aygestin
  • Nor-QD
  • Camila
  • Jolivette
  • Nora-BE

2. Norgestrel - the following brand name pill contains this hormone:

  • Ovrette

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