212 Family Planning
The mini pill is safe
and effective during
➤ If you forget a pill,
use a barrier method
(or do not have sex)
for 7 days, AND keep
taking your pills.
The Mini Pill or Progestin-only Pills
Because this pill does not contain estrogen, it is safer for
women who should avoid combined birth control pills (see
pages 208 and 209) and for women who have side effects from
combined pills. But this pill is less effective than combined birth
The mini pill is very effective for most breastfeeding mothers,
including mothers whose milk is not coming in well yet. Like the
combined pill, it is usually available at family planning clinics, health
posts, pharmacies, and through health workers. See page 522 for
Women with any of the conditions on page 207 and women
who are taking medicine for seizures should not take the mini pill.
The medicine makes the mini pill less effective.
Common side effects of the mini pill:
• irregular bleeding or spotting. This is the most common
side effect. If it becomes a problem, taking ibuprofen may help
• no monthly bleeding. This is fairly common, but if you go
more than 45 days without bleeding you may be pregnant.
Keep taking your pills until you can see a health worker to
find out if you are pregnant.
• occasional headaches.
How to take the mini pill:
• Take your first pill on the first day of your monthly bleeding.
• Take one pill at the same time each day, even if you do not have sex.
If you take a pill even a few hours late or forget only one day’s pill, you can become
• When you finish a packet, start your new packet the next day, even if you have not
had any bleeding. Do not skip a day.
If you are breastfeeding and have not started your monthly bleeding, you can start
taking the pills any day. You may not begin bleeding. This is normal.
What to do if you miss a mini pill:
Take it as soon as you remember. Take the next pill at the regular time, even if it
means taking 2 pills in one day. Use a barrier method with the pill, or do not have sex
for 2 days. You may have bleeding if you take your pill at a later time than usual.
Stopping the mini pill:
You can stop taking the pill any time. You can get pregnant the day after you stop,
so be sure to use another family planning method right away if you do not want to
become pregnant. If you can wait until the end of your cycle before stopping, your
monthly bleeding will be more regular.
Where Women Have No Doctor 2012