Many women use birth control pills as their go-to contraception method. There are options for women who choose to go on the pill – the combination pill (which has estrogen and progestin), the progestin-only pill (POP), or the mini-pill. But information on the mini-pill is sparse, so many women are uninformed on how it works. However, as people of childbearing age, we should readily have up-to-date contraceptive information available. This way, we can choose the best birth control.
Here’s everything you should know about the mini-pill to see whether it’s the right birth control choice for you:
The mini-pill and combination pill work differently.
Taken daily at the same time each day, combination pills prevent ovulation, while mini-pills thicken cervical mucus to prevent sperm migration. Only containing progestin (a synthetic version of the natural hormone progesterone) and taken orally at the same time daily. The mini-pill’s active ingredient is synthetic progesterone, which thins the endometrial lining to interfere with sperm implantation. Mini-pills can also occasionally prevent ovulation, albeit unreliably. According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, about 40 percent of women who use mini-pills will continue to ovulate.
Mini-pills and combination pills have different side effects.
Since mini-pills are low-dose, they’re less likely to cause the side effects of combination pills, which include headaches, weight gain, depression, and nausea. However, Mini-pills may cause lower sex drive, tender breasts, ovarian cysts, thinning hair, and dizziness. The mini-pill’s side effects make spotting and irregular bleeding more likely than they would be with a combination pill. With that said, though, these side effects can improve or disappear after a few months of using the pills as instructed. If the mini-pill side effects bother you, talk to your doctor.
The mini-pill has plenty of benefits.
Although mini-pills produce unpleasant side effects like irregular bleeding, it comes with benefits, too.. The mini pill can shorten the length of your period, reduce cramping, and decrease your risk of endometrial cancer. This type of birth control pill is safe for women with skin conditions. It’s also appropriate for those who have a history of blood clots, smoking, or estrogen aversion. And unlike combination pills, mini-pills are safe to take when you’re breastfeeding.
The mini-pill isn’t the best choice for everyone.
The mini pill isn’t the right option for every woman. Avoid this birth control type if you’ve had breast cancer, liver cancer, or weight loss surgery. Also, those who are taking drugs for HIV/AIDS and those who have seizures should steer clear of this contraceptive.
The mini-pill is less effective at preventing pregnancy than the combination pill.
While the pregnancy rate for the combination pill is 2-3 percent, the pregnancy rate for the mini-pill is much higher at over 9 percent. Because women have to take the mini-pill at the same time each day, its effectiveness is time-sensitive. If you take the pill outside of the proper time frame, use back-up birth control methods, like condoms, for the next two days.
The choice to use birth control is always yours, but is the mini-pill the right choice for you? If you’re considering the mini-pill, take its side effects, your health conditions, and its effectiveness into account. Information about the mini-pill may be harder to find, but these facts will give you all the information you need to make the right decision.