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Thinking of Taking the Mini Pill for Birth Control? Here’s What You Need to Know!

The desogestrel Mini Pill, also known as the progestogen-only pill, is a daily tablet that contains one hormone, a synthetic progesterone called desogestrel. It is considered safe and effective in preventing pregnancy and can be used by women who cannot use estrogen-containing contraceptives.

The Mini Pill mimics the naturally-occurring female sex hormone progesterone and prevents the release of an egg during the menstrual cycle. The Mini Pill also makes it harder for sperm to reach the egg by thickening the mucus within the cervix.

The Mini Pill referred to and all relevant information in this article is applicable to the desogestrel-only version.

You can read more about it on the NHS website and on our Contraceptive Pill Treatment Page.

Here are some facts you need to know!

The Mini Pill is very effective

When taken correctly, the Mini Pill is more than 99% effective. This means fewer than 1 in 100 who take the pill as contraception will get pregnant in 1 year.

With "typical use" of the Mini Pill (the way it's taken by a lot of women in real life), it is around 91% effective.

The Mini Pill effect kicks in quickly

The birth control effect starts working quickly, depending on when you start taking the Mini Pill during your menstrual cycle:

  • Works immediately - When you start on the first 5 days of your period (Days 1 to 5)

  • Works after 2 days - When you start on any other day of your menstrual cycle. You have to have taken the pill daily for this to work.

You will need to take the Mini Pill at the same time each day, so you should choose a convenient time of day to start taking the first pack of pills.

Always make sure you use additional contraceptive methods (e.g. condoms) until the Mini Pill starts to become effective.

You have to take it around the same time each day

Creating a routine at the same time each day may help you remember to take the Mini Pill daily. For example, some people find it helps if they take it after their breakfast, or right before going to bed.

If you forget to take the Mini Pill at the exact time, don’t fret! The desogestrel Mini Pill can be taken within 12 hours of your usual time. Just take it as soon as you remember.

If it has been more than 12 hours from your usual time, the protection is lost. This is considered a ‘missed pill’. Continue normal pill-taking but you must also use another method, such as the condom, for the next 2 days.

Does not protect against STIs

The Mini Pill does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Use external or internal condoms to help protect yourself from STIs.

Safe to use during breast feeding

The Mini Pill can be started any time after you’ve given birth.

If you start the Mini Pill 21 days after giving birth, use additional precautions for 2 days.

You can continue breast feeding whilst on the Mini Pill. A tiny amount of hormone enters your breast milk, but studies have shown this won’t harm the baby.

Be wary of sickness and diarrhoea

If you vomit within two hours of taking the Mini Pill, it won't have been absorbed by your body. Take another pill as soon as you feel well enough. As long as you're not sick again, your contraception won't be affected. Take your next pill at the normal time. If you continue to be sick, seek advice.

If you have very severe diarrhoea that continues for more than 24 hours, this may make the Mini Pill less effective. Keep taking your pill at the normal time, but treat each day that you have severe diarrhoea as if you'd missed a pill and follow the missed pill instructions as above.

In conclusion, the Mini Pill is simple and effective in preventing pregnancy. Take it regularly, inform your healthcare provider of any changes, and consider non-hormonal alternatives if necessary.

You must always consult your doctor or a qualified healthcare professional before starting any new medication. You can contact a member of our Pharmacy Team on 0203 370 4321 or through our website ( for more information.


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