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What Is a Progestin-Only Birth Control Pill?

Progestin-only birth control pills, also referred to as mini-pills, are a birth control option that only contains progestin and no estrogen. They function differently from combination pills and prevent pregnancy by thickening the mucus around the cervix, preventing the sperm from reaching an egg and fertilizing it. They also prevent pregnancy in a second way by thinning the lining of the uterus so, if an egg is fertilized, it would have difficulty implanting and resulting in a pregnancy. These pills do not suppress ovulation as combination pills do. Because of this, they can be slightly less effective at preventing pregnancy, and require being taken at the same time each day to be most effective.

Who should take progestin-only pills?

Progestin-only pills are often prescribed for women who:

  • Cannot tolerate combination pills well because of the side effects related to the estrogen.
  • Smoke.
  • Have a history of blood clots.
  • Are over the age of 35.
  • Are breastfeeding and want to maintain their milk supply (which can be decreased by estrogen).
  • Suffer from dermatitis as it can help to treat this condition.
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