Progestogen-only pill

Street name: POP, the mini pill

The POP (progestogen-only pill) contains a very small dose of the hormone progestogen.

  • A small pill (containing progestogen only) is taken orally each day to prevent pregnancy
  • Safe, effective and convenient
  • Available only by prescription
  • Can be used while breast feeding
  • Can be used for women who cannot take oestrogen

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More Information


What is the POP?

Sometimes called the mini-pill, the POP releases progestogen, the synthetic version of progesterone, a hormone which is naturally produced by the body.

How does it work?

  • The main effect is to thicken the mucus of the cervix so that sperm cannot enter the uterus (womb)
  • Changes the lining of the uterus, making it unsuitable for pregnancy
  • The POP with drospirenone (Slinda) prevents the ovaries from releasing an egg. Sometimes the other POPs can also prevent the ovaries from releasing an egg.

What are the advantages of the POP as a method of contraception?

  • Contains a very low dose of hormone
  • Reversible and rapid return to usual fertility
  • Side effects are rare
  • Can be taken by women who are unable to take the combined contraceptive pill because of health problems or side effects with oestrogen
  • The Drospirenone (Slinda) POP can reduce the length and amount of menstrual bleeding, and after 12 months of use, nearly half of users have no bleeding at all.

What are the disadvantages of the POP as a method of contraception?

  • It must be taken at the same time every day to be effective
  • In younger women, it may be less effective than other hormonal methods
  • Unpredictable bleeding pattern (see side effects)
  • Do not protect from sexually transmissible infections (STIs)

Possible side effects

Side effects are uncommon but may include:

  • Menstrual irregularities, which are common in POP users and represent the most frequent cause for contraceptive discontinuation
  • Follicular ovarian cysts – usually there are no symptoms and do not require treatment
  • Sore/tender breasts
  • Headaches
  • Change to skin
  • Mood change

These side effects often settle with time. The POP has not been shown to cause weight gain.

Is the POP suitable for all women?

Most women can safely use the POP. The POP may be PARTICULARLY SUITABLE for women who:

  • Cannot take oestrogen
  • Are breastfeeding
  • Are over 35 and smoke
  • Prefer an oral method of progestogen contraception

Who cannot take the POP?

Women who have:

  • Severe liver disease
  • Severe arterial disease
  • Mal-absorption syndrome
  • Breast cancer
  • Irregular vaginal bleeding which has not been investigated

What do I need to know about starting the POP?

Starting the POP for the first time requires an assessment by a doctor or a nurse practitioner and a prescription.

When you start the POP for the first time or after a break it can take up to 7 days to start working to prevent pregnancy. This depends on the timing of your menstrual cycle, which POP you are using and if you are already using contraception. Speak with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist for more information.

It may be helpful to take the POP at the same time you do another activity every day (such as cleaning your teeth) or you could enter a reminder into your phone.

What do I need to know about the ongoing use of the POP?

Once you have taken all the pills in a packet, you start a new packet.

To renew your POP prescription you will need to see a doctor or nurse practitioner for review at least once a year.

If you run out of pills and cannot see a doctor or nurse for a new script, speak to a pharmacist. Some pharmacists will give you a small supply of pills without a script if you show them your old pill packet.

If you are late to take or miss a pill, see the Missed Pill charts in the pdf file.