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Progestogen-only pill

What is it?

The progestogen-only pill (POP) contains the hormone progestogen. It is taken every day without a break, which means that pills are also taken during your period. The POP does not contain oestrogen, so may be a good option for women who cannot, or do not want to take oestrogen (eg breastfeeding mothers, women aged 35 years or older and who smoke).

There are two main types, one has a 3-hour 'missed pill window', and the other has a 12-hour 'missed pill window'.

This method does not protect you against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), so you may need to use a condom as well to help protect you against most STIs.

The Progestogen-only pill How does it work?

The POP works by:

  • Thickening the mucus of the cervix to act as a barrier to sperm
  • Stopping a fertilised egg settling by keeping the lining of the womb thin
  • POPs sometimes stop the ovaries releasing an egg

The Progestogen-only pill How effective is it?

The POP is up to 99% effective when used correctly.

What are the benefits?

  • Does not interrupt sex
  • May be suitable for breastfeeding women
  • May be suitable for those who smoke and who are aged over 35
  • May be useful for those who can't or do not want to take oestrogen
  • Easily reversible for women who decide they want to try to become pregnant

The Progestogen-only pillWomen may not be able to/may not want to use it if they:

  • Do not want changes to their periods
  • May not remember to take a pill every day, and do not want to have to remember to do this every day

Women should not use it if they:

  • Have had clots in a vein
  • Have active liver disease
  • Have or are suspected to have hormone dependent cancer, e.g. breast cancer
  • Have undiagnosed vaginal bleeding
  • Are allergic to any of the ingredients of the pill
  • Are pregnant

The Progestogen-only pill Possible side-effects?

As with all medicines side effects can occur but not all women will experience side-effects. Side effects may include:

  • Changes to periods (can be irregular/lighter, more frequent or stop altogether)
  • Increased chance of an ectopic pregnancy but this is still less common than if no contraception is used
  • Acne, decreased libido, headache, breast pain and weight increase
  • Feeling sick

The Progestogen-only pill What if......?

I miss a POP?

You should try to take your POP at the same time every day. If you take your POP within the specified window (either three hours or 12-hours depending on the type of pill) you will still be protected against pregnancy. If you exceed any of these missed pill windows you will not be protected against pregnancy and you will need to use additional contraceptive precautions such as condoms for up to seven days. The information leaflet inside your pill packet contains advice, but if you miss a pill/pills and are concerned about what to do, always consult your doctor or a nurse.

Remember: Contact your doctor or nurse if you have any concerns or are worried / unsure about anything to do with your contraception.

Have you decided which might be the right contraception for you? If not check out the other choices, if you have, jump to Step3: How do I change?

© 2015 Merck Sharp & Dohme Ltd. All rights reserved.

Job code: WOMN-1160817-0000

Date of preparation: September 2015

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