The 'mini pill' is a type of contraceptive. It’s a good option for women who can’t take other sorts of contraceptive pills, for example because they are breastfeeding. The main drawback is you need to take it at the same time every day for it to work properly.
What is the mini pill?
The mini pill is a daily pill that you can take to avoid getting pregnant. Its proper name is the progestogen-only contraceptive pill.
You need to take the mini pill at the same time every day, without a break. If you take it more than 3 hours late it might not work. You need to use condoms for 48 hours if you miss a pill.
Unlike the combined pill, the mini pill contains only one hormone — progestogen. The mini pill is useful for many women who can't take the combined pill, either because they are breastfeeding or for other health-related reasons.
How does the mini pill work?
The mini pill works by thickening the mucus at the entrance to your uterus (womb), which stops sperm from getting through and fertilising the egg.
In some women, the mini pill also prevents the ovaries from releasing eggs in the first place.
Advantages and disadvantages of the mini pill
The main advantages of the mini pill are that it:
- can be used by most women, including many who can't take the combined pill
- is a low dose pill that doesn't contain oestrogen, so has less risk associated with it than the combined pill
The main disadvantages are that it:
- needs to be taken at the same time every day, with only a 3-hour window either side
- can cause irregular periods
If you forget to take the mini pill
If you are more than 3 hours late taking the mini pill, take the pill you missed. Keep taking the pills as normal, and use another form of contraception (like a condom) for the next 48 hours until you have taken 3 consecutive doses of the mini pill.
Types of mini pill
How well does the mini pill work?
The mini pill works very well if you take it properly. But as mistakes often happen, about 1 in 10 women who use the mini pill get pregnant.
Some medicines or herbal remedies may also prevent the pill from working, so you should ask your doctor or pharmacist about how any other medicines you need to take might affect it.
Last reviewed: February 2019