Also called as a ‘mini pill’ or a Progestin Only Pill (POP), the Progestogen – Only pill is an oral contraceptive that is often prescribed in cases where the combined pill (containing both progesterone and estrogen) fails to work in preventing pregnancy.
POPs as we will call them throughout this article contain only progestins (similar to progesterone) and can effectively prevent unwanted pregnancies. However, they would need to be correctly used in order to be effective enough.
Progestogen-only Contraceptive Pill
Principle Behind The Progestogen – Only Pill
POPs help to prevent pregnancies by forming a thick mucus layer in the cervix which in turn prevents sperms from entering the womb or reaching the egg present in it. POPs also work on the ovaries and prevent regular ovulation. In addition to this, these POPs also cause the endometrial lining to become very thin.
This way, even if the egg gets fertilized by the sperm, it would not be able to latch onto the thin endometrial lining and would be removed from the body during shedding.
Standard Dosage For Progestogen – Only Pills
The standard dosage for POPs is one pill every day starting from the first day of the period. The pills can also be taken immediately after childbirth (or within 21 days after delivery). The pills need to be taken at the same time every day. A regular routine needs to be established as a delay of 3 hours or more from the standard time would make the pills ineffective. The pills need to be continued every day and should not be stopped even during periods.
Effect Of Progestogen – Only Pills On Menstrual Periods
Many women have a general question on what would happen to their monthly menstrual cycles if they take POPs. The answer is that the results may vary for different individuals. While some women would not experience any irregularities in their menstrual cycles, some may experience infrequent periods. Some women may also experience no periods at all (usually in cases where the ovulation stops completely). Spotting in between menstrual cycles is also common in women who take POPs.
Advantages Of Progestogen – Only Pills
POPs are very effective in preventing pregnancies (if taken correctly that is). The pills do not cause any issues during sexual intercourse and can even be taken by breastfeeding women.
POPs are also the best option for women who cannot opt for the combined pills. For instance, factors like old age, migraines, smoking, blood clots and hypertension etc. are considered unfavorable for the combined pills but do not pose any hindrances for POPs.
Side Effects of Progestogen – Only Pills
Although they are considered more effective and less harmful when compared to combined pills, POPs do come with their own share of side effects that can either settle down in a month or two, or remain for life. Accordingly, some of the more common side effects experienced by women using POPs include mood swings, breast tenderness (mastalgia), breast discomfort, irregularities in the menstrual cycle, spotting, increased acne attacks, low sex drive, abdominal cramps and weight gain etc.
In certain cases, POPs may cause excessive bleeding in women (extremely rare though). Some types of POPs (like Cerazette) can stop ovulation altogether, thereby affecting fertility. And while almost everybody is eligible for POPs, women with conditions like breast cancer, hepatitis etc. cannot opt for them.