Minipill (progestin-only birth control pill)

The minipill, also known as the progestin-only birth control pill, is an oral contraceptive that contains the hormone progestin. Unlike combination birth control pills, the minipill doesn't contain estrogen. The progestin dose in a minipill is lower than the progestin dose in a combination oral contraceptive pill.

The minipill thickens cervical mucus and thins the lining of the uterus (endometrium) — preventing sperm from reaching the egg. The minipill also sometimes suppresses ovulation. For maximum effectiveness, you must take the minipill at the same time every day.


Why it's done Risks How you prepare What you can expect

Your health care provider may recommend the minipill if:

  • You're breast-feeding. For many years it was thought that the estrogen component of combination birth control pills inhibited breast milk production. Although recent research has found that combination birth control pills don't affect lactation, many providers and patients still have experience and confidence in the minipill for breast-feeding.
  • You have certain health problems. If you have a history of blood clots in the legs or the lungs, or if you have an increased risk of those conditions, your doctor may recommend the minipill.
  • You're concerned about combination birth control pills. Some women choose the minipill because they're concerned about drug interactions with or side effects of birth control pills containing estrogen.

The minipill is an easily reversible method of contraception. Your fertility may return to normal immediately after you stop taking the minipill.

Your health care provider also may recommend the minipill to help treat a type of skin inflammation (dermatitis) that seems to be related to your menstrual cycle.

The minipill isn't appropriate for everyone, however. Your health care provider may discourage use of the minipill if:

  • You currently have or have had breast cancer
  • You have liver disease
  • You've had weight loss (bariatric) surgery
  • You have unexplained uterine bleeding
  • You're taking medications for tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS or to control seizures
  • You'll have trouble taking the pill at the same time every day due to a changing work schedule or other factors
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