Design of the minipill

The minipill: Everything you need to know

First introduced in 1968, the minipill is oral birth control that contains the hormone progestin in a lower dose than a combination (progestin and estrogen) birth control pill. The minipill doesn’t contain estrogen and can have fewer hormonal side effects. 

If you take the minipill, add it to your Ovia profile so you never miss a day!

How the minipill works

The progestin in the minipill thickens your cervical mucus — creating a barrier for the sperm to reach the egg. It also thins the lining of the uterus preventing implantation and suppressing ovulation. 

How often you need to do something

The most commonly prescribed minipill comes in packs of 28 pills with no placebo pills. You take it at the same time every day (within the same three hour window) to ensure you have the right amount of hormones to prevent pregnancy. 

There is a new minipill called Slynd that does not require such a strict dosing time period. You can take Slynd with a little more variability time-wise (though it is best to take it around the same time daily). Slynd also has 4 placebo pills per cycle, which can help decrease the spotting and irregular bleeding some people experience on the minipill. 

Benefits and drawbacks

Here’s what to know about the pluses and minuses of the minipill. 

Pros

  • Doesn’t interfere with intimacy and requires no partner involvement
  • Menstrual bleeding may stop or be reduced
  • Able to stop at any time if you want to become pregnant (easily reversible)
  • Doesn’t impact your ability to become pregnant in the future
  • Fewer hormonal side effects
  • Does not contain estrogen and can be used safely by those who cannot use estrogen-containing birth control methods
  • Safe for use while breastfeeding and will not decrease your supply

Cons

  • Requires strict regimen for effectiveness (excluding Slynd)
  • Slightly less effective than combination pills, implants, IUDs, and shots at preventing pregnancy
  • Slightly higher chance of an ectopic pregnancy if you become pregnant 
  • Not able to take for the first three to six weeks after birth if breastfeeding
  • Possible side effects include acne, breast tenderness, irregular periods, spotting mid cycle, decreased sex drive, depression, headaches, ovarian cysts, and nausea, though usually these go away within a few months
  • Doesn’t protect you from STIs

Effectiveness

Minipills are approximately 99% effective if you take them at the same time every day without missing any pills. You can be protected from pregnancy if you start the pill within five days of your period start date. Otherwise, use a condom during the first week of starting your minipill. The minipill failure rate is slightly higher than other birth control methods, but tends to have fewer hormonal side effects.

Where and how to get it 

You can get a prescription for the minipill from a healthcare provider or family planning clinic. You can order the minipill through a pharmacy or online service.

Average cost

The cost for the minipill ranges from $0 to $50 per month but is usually covered by health insurance and government health plans. You may also need to pay for the visit with your provider.

Who’s eligible

Most healthy premenopausal women can take the minipill, but be sure you talk with your doctor about your full health history. The minipill may not be best for breastfeeding moms, those with certain types of cancer, history of blood clots, or those who have high blood pressure. Certain medications, like those for tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS, may cause complications with the minipill. 

Want to learn about other types of birth control? Check out these posts.

Reviewed by the Ovia Clinical Team


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