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Progestin-only Pills



Home >> Types of Birth Control Pills >> Combined oral contraceptive pill

Progestin-only Pills

Unlike combined pills, Progestin Only Pills (POP) contain only progestogens or progestins and do not have other synthetic hormone, oestrogen. POP is also called as "mini-pill".

How Progestin-only Pills work?
It works in three ways to prevent pregnancy:
1. It stops ovary to release eggs so that it can not meet with sperm for fertilization.
2. It thickens the wall of uterus thus becoming impossible to get pregnancy.
3. It also thickens the cervical mucus between vagina and uterus so it makes very difficult for sperm to pass through vagina to reach the egg.

Types of Progestin-only Pills :

POP can be generally classified into three types of doses - very low, intermediate and high

Very low dose POP contraceptives inconsistently slow down ovulation in most cases of ~50% of cycles. It thickens the cervical mucus to stop sperm penetration. Examples of low-dose POP are subdermal implants Norplant and jadelle, IUD (intrauterine system) and Mirena.

Intermediate dose progestin-only pills do allow follicular development to some extent but still consistently slow down the ovulation in 97-99% of cycles. It also thickens the cervical mucus like very-low dose POPs do to stop penetration of sperm. This type of POP is available in Cerazette (or the subdermal implant, Implanon)

High dose progestine-only pills completely stops ovulation i.e release of eggs. Similarly, it als thickens the cervical mucus to stop sperm penetration. High dose POP is found in Depo-Provera and Nristerat.

Effectiveness of Progestin-Only Pill:

POPs are very much effective in preventing unwanted pregnancy upto 99% if taken as directed. POP must be taken very strictly on time i.e within 3 hours vs combined contraceptive pills. However, intermediate dose pop like Cerazette may require approval for upto 12 hours in some countries. Failure rates may vary as per user's compliance with the instruction and drug-drug interaction including anti-biotics.

It is not confirmed to what extent POPs are safe against endometrial and ovarian cancer compared to combined birth control pills. Similarly, there is no evidence that breast cancer would increase due to POP use, however, due to lack of evidence, there could be chances of "possible carcinogenic".

Available Progestin-only pills:

 

Generic NameBrand Name
norgestrelOvrette
norethindroneMicronor, Nor-QD



Please also read how to choose the right birth control pills to know the advantages and disadvantages of POP pill in details.


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