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How to take the progesterone-only pill

There are different types of progesterone-only pill (also known as mini pill or POP) such as Cerazette, Cerelle, Norgeston, Noriday, Micronor.

How does it work?

The progesterone-only pill contains only progesterone (1 of the 2 female hormones). It works by making the mucus (discharge) produced by the cervix thicker which stopping sperm from getting to the uterus (womb). Some POPs stops the release of an egg from the ovaries.

What happens to my period when I am on the pill?

You may not have regular periods while taking it. Your periods may be lighter, more frequent or may stop altogether, and you may get spotting (very light vaginal bleed) between periods.

How do I take the pill?

There are 2 types of the progesterone-only pill

The 3 hour progesterone only pill must be taken within 3 hours of the same time each day (such as Micronor, Norgeston, and Noriday).

The 12 hour progesterone only pill (desogestrel progesterone only) must be taken within 12 hours of the same time each day (such as Cerazette and Cerelle).

You must check which type of pill you are taking.

To start taking the pill you must start it on the 1st or 2nd day of your period.

Choose a convenient time in the day to take your 1st pill. The 1st thing in the morning is the best time for most people, continue to take the pill at the same time every day (within either a 3 hour or 12 hour window dependent on which pill you are taking).

Take a pill for 28 days before starting the next pack. You do not take a break between pill packets.

If you miss a pill, take it as soon as you remember. If you are more than 3 hours late (or 12 hours if taking a 12 hour progesterone only pill) use extra contraception such as condoms for the next 2 days.

If you vomit 2 to 3 hours after taking your pill, take another 1. If you continue to vomit use another form of contraception such as condoms for 48 hours after you have stopped vomiting.

If you have very severe diarrhoea (6 to 8 watery stools in 24 hours) it may also mean that the pill will not work properly. Keep taking your pill as normal but use additional contraception such as condoms whilst you have diarrhoea, and for 2 days after recovering or 7 days if you are taking a 12-hour pill.

Some medicines, including some (uncommon) antibiotics, can make the pill less effective and you may need additional contraception (such as condoms) while taking the antibiotic. Speak to your doctor or nurse for advice.

Are there any side effects?

Serious side effects are rare. More minor side effects usually settle down over a couple of months. They can include:

  • feeling sick
  • headaches
  • sore breasts
  • mood swings
  • increase in spotty skin

Tell your doctor or nurse if you experience any of these for more than 3 months.

How effective is it as contraception?

When taken correctly, it is more than 99 percent effective. With ‘typical’ use (the way it is taken by a lot of women in real life), it is 92 percent effective.

What are the pros and cons of the progesterone-only pill?

Pros Cons
Very effective form of contraception if used correctly It does not protect from Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) such as Chlamydia, HIV, Gonorrhoea
Does not interfere with sex You have to remember to take it every day and within 3 to 12  (dependent on pill type) hours of the same time or it isn’t effective
Periods are regular and may be less painful or lighter Some people experience side effects
May reduce heavy bleeding It can give you irregular periods or spotting

Sexually transmitted infection

Remember, only a condom will protect you against sexually transmitted infections.

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Please note: this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s NHS FT. These details may not reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If this information has been translated into another language from English, efforts have been made to maintain accuracy, but there may still be some translation errors. If you are unsure about any of the guidance in this resource or have specific questions about how it relates to your child, always ask your healthcare professional for further advice.

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