Dr. MJ Bazos MD,
What is a progestin-only
A progestin-only contraceptive is one kind of
birth control pill. It is often called the "mini-pill." Regular birth control
pills have 2 female hormones: estrogen and progesterone. The mini-pill has only
progesterone in it. Because this pill doesn't contain estrogen, it may not have
as many side effects. (Progestin and progesterone are the same hormone.)
How does the progestin-only
This contraceptive does three things. First,
like regular birth control pills, the progestin-only pill makes your body
"think" that you are pregnant and stops your ovary from releasing an egg.
Second, the mini-pill causes changes in your uterus. (The uterus is where a baby
grows.) Because of the changes caused by progestin, your uterus is less likely
to let a pregnancy get started even if an egg is released.
And third, the progestin-only pill thickens the
mucus between your uterus and your vagina. (The vagina is the passageway from
the uterus to the outside of the body.) Sperm have a hard time getting through
the thick mucus to reach the egg.
Is the progestin-only pill better
than regular birth control pills?
The progestin-only pill is better than regular
birth control pills if you are breast-feeding because the mini-pill will not
change your milk production.
The mini-pill may be safer for some women to
use. This pill is safe for women who are older than 35. It is also safer for
women who smoke, have high blood pressure, are overweight or have a history of
Regular birth control pills make some women feel
sick to their stomach. The progestin-only pill might not cause this problem.
If I use the progestin-only pill,
can I still get pregnant?
No contraceptive method is perfect, even when
you use it the right way. Two or three of every 100 women who use the
progestin-only pill the right way could still get pregnant. This risk of
pregnancy is almost the same as the risk with regular birth control pills.
Remember that both kinds of birth control pills are better at preventing
pregnancy than condoms.
Does the progestin-only pill have
You might have a little bleeding between your
periods for several months after you start taking the progestin-only pill. This
can be inconvenient, but it is not a health risk. The bleeding will probably go
away on its own after you use the mini-pill for a few months. If the bleeding
seems heavy or if it bothers you, you can talk to your doctor about it.
Common side effects of the mini-pill are weight
gain (which usually goes away when you stop taking the pill), tender breasts,
and bleeding between your periods.
Like regular birth control pills, the
progestin-only pill has to be taken for a whole month before it can protect you
from pregnancy. So for the first month, you need to use another kind of
contraception, such as condoms, along with the mini-pill.
The mini-pill only works if you take it every
day at the same time of day. If you are more than three hours late taking the
pill, you have to use a second method of contraception (such as condoms or not
having any sex at all) until your next period, to prevent a possible pregnancy.
If you forget to take a mini-pill for even one
day, you have to use a second method of contraception for the rest of the month
(until your next period). You can't take two pills the next day to make up for a
missed pill, the way you can with regular birth control pills.
Like all birth control pills, the progestin-only
pill does not protect you from getting a sexually transmitted