The progestogen-only pill, aka progesterone only pill, POP or 'mini pill', is one of the most frequently reviewed methods at The Lowdown. Funnily enough, it only contains one hormone progestogen in it, unlike the combined pill which also contains oestrogen. It's very commonly used and considered very safe for most women.
Does the progesterone only pill cause weight gain or loss?
There is no evidence that weight is affected by the progestogen-only pill, also known as the 'mini pill'. However weight gain, or loss, could be impacted by a number of factors that may be related to hormones and the menstrual cycle, such as water retention. You can also find out more in our complete guide to contraception and weight .
Is it normal to have cramps on the mini pill?
Some cramping is a recognised side effect of the mini pill and may be associated with unscheduled bleeding or spotting. If cramping is severe or bothering you or you think you may be pregnant speak to your doctor.
Can I start the mini pill before my period?
Most women can start the mini pill at any time in their period cycle. With desogestrel or traditional pills containing norethisterone or levonorgestrel, if you start the pill in the first 5 days of your cycle you will be protected against pregnancy straight away (if you have a short menstrual cycle speak with your doctor or nurse). If you start the mini pill at any other time in your cycle you need to use condoms or another contraception method for the first two days of pill taking. For the drospirenone mini pill condoms are required for 7 days unless you start the pill on day 1 or your natural menstrual cycle. If you are switching to the mini pill from another method check out our blog on changing your contraception .
Does the progesterone only pill help acne?
The progestogen-only pill can increase the amount of sebum (oil) produced in the sebaceous glands of the skin leading to more spots. This affects women in varying amounts and many women don't notice a difference at all. If you suffer from acne it may be worth considering stopping progestogen-only contraception and switching to a combined method (combined hormonal contraception containing oestrogen is used as a treatment for acne) or non-hormonal method. Your doctor can also discuss medical treatments for acne with you. Take a look at our user reviews or head to our guide on acne and the pill to find out more.
I have no period on the mini pill - is this normal?
Yes. Having no periods or 'breakthrough bleeds' as they are known, is very normal on the mini pill. Around half of women who've reviewed a progestogen-only/ mini pill at The Lowdown report that their bleeds or periods stop altogether. Many women like taking it for this reason! Those using the drospirenone mini pill may or may not have scheduled bleeding in the 4 days where they take dummy pills which don't contain hormones. People who use the implant, injection and hormonal coil (IUS) often report they have no periods, and this is a known side effect from progestogen-only methods. However if your bleeding pattern suddenly changes, consider doing a pregnancy test.
Can the mini pill cause sore breasts?
Yes, tender or sore breasts are a commonly reported side effect for hormonal contraceptives like the mini pill. Check out our review data to see how people have reported this.
How the Progestogen-only / Mini pill works:
The progestogen-only pill is a small tablet you swallow daily that only contains one hormone – progestogen. It prevents pregnancy by making the fluid in your cervix thicker (which makes it more difficult for sperm to enter the womb), and preventing the lining of your womb thickening enough for a fertilised egg to implant in it. Some progestogen-only pills can also stop ovulation.
There are a few things that can stop the progestogen-only pill from working properly including vomiting, some medicines, or missing a pill. Take a look at our complete guide to the progestogen-only pill
How to use the Progestogen-only / Mini pill:
The progestogen-only pill should be taken around the same time everyday. We recommend keeping your pill packet somewhere you look at everyday (like your makeup bag) to remind you to take it, or set an alarm on your phone. Most types of progestogen-only pills are designed to be taken for 28 days with no break between packs. Depending on where you are in your cycle when you start the pill, you might not be protected against pregnancy straight away. Find out more here
Coming off the pill is easy - you just stop taking it. When you do, you're no longer protected from pregnancy. If you want to stop the pill but do not wish to become pregnant then consider switching to another form of contraception before you stop taking your pill. Read our complete guide to coming off the pill here .
How safe is the Progestogen-only / Mini pill:
The progestogen-only pill is very safe for most women, although there are some additional specific considerations for use of the drospirenone pill. The development of small fluid-filled sacs (cysts) on your ovaries is a possible side effect of the mini pill but they are usually harmless and disappear without treatment. If you do become pregnant while you’re using the progestogen-only pill, there may be a small risk of an ectopic pregnancy. It's also important to remember that the pill does not protect you from STIs.