Using Progestin Only Birth Control Pills PDF

What are Progestin Only Birth Control Pills?

Progestin-only birth control pills (sometimes called the “mini pill” or POPs) are oral pills that are taken daily and contain 1 hormone (Progestin).They prevent pregnancy by thickening the cervical fluid to keep sperm from reaching an egg, but also may reduce the chances of releasing an egg (ovulation) in some users.

How effective are Progestin Only Birth Control Pills?

Progestin-only pills are an effective method of birth control. The progestin only pill is about 93% effective at preventing pregnancy in typical use, which means that around 7 out of 100 people using it as their only form of birth control will get pregnant in one year. With consistent and correct use it can be over 99% effective.

How can I get Progestin Only Birth Control Pills?

You will need to visit a clinic to get progestin only pills or a prescription for them. You will talk with a healthcare provider about whether progestin only pills are right for you.

  • Lighter or no periods (which is safe)
  • Improved menstrual symptoms for some users (such as cramps). 
  • May possibly treat and decrease pain associated with endometriosis
  • Does not affect your ability to get pregnant in the future – once stopped your fertility quickly returns
  • Easy to stop using and if you have side effects they go away very quickly
  • Hormonal related side effects are less likely when compared to most other methods
  • They are a good choice for people who cannot use estrogen.
  • Need to remember to take a pill at the same time every day 
  • No protection against Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)
  • Irregular bleeding is a common, including spotting and sometimes prolonged bleeding.

When do I start my pills?

It is recommended you start your pill right away, you do not have to wait for your period. The pill is effective in preventing pregnancy within 48 hours of starting so you need to use a backup method of birth control such as condoms or not have sex for 2 days. 

How do I take the Progestin Only Birth Control Pill?  

  1. With Progestin only pills it is essential to take them at the same time every day, you can set an alarm or even use a reminder app.
  2. If you take the progestin only pill more than 3 hours late, there may be a risk of pregnancy.
  3. When you take the last pill in the package, start a new package the next day. Do not take any breaks or days off between packs. 

What if I miss pills or take them late?

Took your pill more than 3 hours late or missed a pill?
  • Take one pill as soon as you remember, continue taking one pill daily at the same time each day. 
  • Use back-up such as condoms or do not have sex for 48 hours. 
  • Consider using emergency contraception if you had sex without a condom in the last 5 days. For information on emergency contraception, please see our website at:

Seek medical attention immediately if you have any of the following ACHES symptoms, as they could indicate a serious complication:

Abdominal pain, especially on the right side of your stomach, below your rib cage

Chest or arm pain, shortness of breath, coughing up blood

Headaches, severe and not relieved by over the counter pain medications

Eye problems, blurred vision, flashing lights, double vision, blindness

Swelling, redness, numbness, tingling or pain in the legs

Some medications and over-the-counter herbal supplements (such as St. John’s Wort) may interact with or decrease the effectiveness of birth control. Be sure to mention that you are using birth control to your health care provider or pharmacist.

Have a question about sexual health?

Questions? We’re here for you!

We know it can be confusing to choose a method. We are here to help. Our Options for Sexual Health Clinicsare staffed by health care professionals who are there to answer your questions about sex, sexuality, and sexual health.  They can help you learn how to use the method you choose and bring you back to check in on how the method is working for you.

Between visits or anytime you have questions about sex, sexuality, or sexual health, our Sex Sense team is there to answer your questions Monday-Friday 9 a.m.- 9 p.m. (PST) by phone (1-800-739-7367) or by email at

This is general information and should not be used in place of individual consultation with a qualified healthcare provider.