What is the mini-pill?

Similar to the pill, the mini-pill is a month-long series of progestin-only pills that must be taken every day (the regular pill has both progestin and estrogen).

The progestin-only pills prevent ovulation if taken for more than one cycle, and also provide pregnancy protection by:

  • Thickening the cervical mucus, which prevents the sperm and egg from joining.
  • Preventing the uterine lining from thickening, which makes it more difficult for a fertilized egg to implant in the uterus and develop.

How is it used?

Like the regular pill, the mini-pill is taken every day and is most effective when taken at the same time every day. For increased effectiveness in the evening, the pill should be taken in the late afternoon. If you are three hours late taking the pill, you should use a backup method of birth control. There are no placebo or "inactive" pills to take during the month.

Does it protect against STIs?


Does it protect against pregnancy?

Yes, but the mini-pill is less effective than the combined estrogen and progestin pill.

What are the chances of getting pregnant while using the mini-pill?

  • Typical use: 5 percent
  • Perfect use: 0.5 percent

Advantages when using the mini-pill:

  • Decreases menstrual bleeding.
  • Decreases menstrual cramps.
  • Helps prevent serious health risks such as:
    • Pelvic inflammatory disease (a major cause of infertility
      in women).
    • Ovarian and endometrial cancer.
  • A good option for women who cannot take estrogen because they are breastfeeding, or for whom estrogen-containing products cause severe headaches or high blood pressure.

Disadvantages when using the mini-pill:

  • Menstrual cycle changes
  • Weight gain
  • Breast tenderness
  • Spotting, bleeding between periods
  • Depression can worsen

Things you should know:

  • The mini-pill does not protect against STIs.
  • The mini-pill must be obtained from a medical clinician and an examination is required.
  • The cost of the examination and mini-pill varies, but is usually lower at a clinic such as Planned Parenthood and is covered by Medicaid.
  • The use of the mini-pill in addition to condoms is a more effective way to protect yourself against pregnancy as well as STIs.

Learn more about other birth control methods in our Birth Control Guide!

Read More:
The Birth Control Pill
Male Condom
Vaginal Ring
The Birth Control Patch