The Mini-Pill

Brands

Norethindrone: Aygestin, Camila, Errin, Jolivette, Nor-QD, Nora-Be and Ortho Micronor

Norgestrel: Orvette

How It Works

Mini-Pills are low dose progestin-only birth control pills. Depending on the brand of mini-pill, it will contain one of two progestins: norethindrone or norgestrel. Unlike combination pills containing estrogen and progestin, the mini-pill only suppresses ovulation in about half the women who take it. The mini-pill does also work to prevent pregnancy by thickening the cervical mucus, which prevents sperm from reaching and fertilizing the egg. It also prevents the thickening of the uterine lining, making it less hospitable to implantation.

Oral contraceptives are only to be utilized as a form of birth control and do not protect against the transmission of HIV (AIDS) or other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

How to Use

Use the Mini-Pill exactly as your healthcare provider has instructed. Mini-Pill oral contraceptives should be taken every day at the exact same time. There are no spacer or inactive pills. Take your first pill on the first day of your period and continue to take a pill every day at the same time of day. When that pack is empty, begin a new one the following day at the same time. The hormones in the Mini-Pill are only active for about 24 hours, which is why it is important to take the pill at the same time each day.

If you miss a dose of the Mini-Pill, your risk of pregnancy will be greatly increased. Take the pill as soon as you realize you have missed one (even if it means taking two pills in one day), and use a second form of birth control for at least 48 hours and up to one week. If you have missed more than one pill, consult with your healthcare provider.

Effectiveness

Mini-Pills are less effective than combination birth control pills. When the Mini-Pill is the only birth control method utilized and is used exactly as directed, it is 99.5% effective.

Benefits

The Mini-Pill can be an effective method of birth control when used as specified. Unlike regular birth control pills, it contains no estrogen and might not cause the typical side effects associated with the other pills, such as breast tenderness and nausea.

Many organizations consider the Mini-Pill to be compatible with breastfeeding, because only small amounts of progestin pass through the breast milk. Progestin is not shown to have adverse effects on a baby’s health, weight gain or development. Talk to your healthcare provider about when is the best time to start the pill after childbirth.

The Mini-Pill may also be recommended to women who have certain health problems such as a high risk of heart disease, blood clots or a history of high blood pressure or migraines. This method is also recommended to women over the age of 35. The Mini-Pill may be prescribed to treat sickle cell disease or dermatitis that seems to be related to the menstrual cycle.

Similar to combination birth control pills, the Mini-Pill has been shown to have the following possible benefits:

  • Menstrual cycle blood flow may become lighter (reducing the chances of anemia).
  • Cramps or other pain during menstruation may become less frequent.
  • Acute pelvic inflammatory disease may occur less frequently.

Risks

Possible side effects include

  • Irregular menstrual bleeding, spotting between periods or no period at all
  • Ovarian cysts
  • Mood changes, headaches or depression
  • Decreased libido (sex drive)
  • Nausea or fatigue
  • Breast tenderness
  • Acne

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Birth Control News

How effective is your birth control?

For sexually active women, he effectiveness of birth control depends on how perfectly they use it. For this reason, there are two kinds of effectiveness rates. One measurement is for perfect use, as the method is tested in the lab or used in real life with no mistakes.

The other is typical use, the average including people who don’t always use the method correctly or every time sexual intercourse takes place.

Get Answer »