The progestogen-only pill is a course of tablets containing the hormone progestogen, which women can take to prevent pregnancy.
It is also known as the progestogen-only pill or POP.
How does it work?
The hormone in the pill works in several ways to prevent a woman from getting pregnant; firstly it thickens cervical mucous to prevent sperm from being able to reach an egg, secondly it thins the lining of the womb so that if an egg was fertilised it would not be able to implant, and lastly, for some women it may stop eggs from being released (ovulation).
How effective is it?
When the pill is taken correctly, which means taking it according to instructions and not taking pills late or missing any, the pill is 99 per cent effective in preventing pregnancy.
What are the advantages?
Being on the pill does not interrupt sex. Other benefits are lighter or no periods, reduced period pain and premenstrual symptoms.
The progestogen-only pill is often suitable for women who can’t take the combined pill.
What are the downsides?
When you start taking the pill you may experience some temporary side effects, such as breast tenderness, spotty skin, headaches and mood changes. Also, you may not have regular bleeds (periods) whilst taking this pill, which some women find annoying or worrying.
You also need to be able to take the pill at the same time every day for it to work properly. If you know this will be difficult to remember then another form of contraception is probably better for you.
Things to bear in mind
The pill is not suitable for everyone, and it is important that the doctor prescribing it to you is aware of your medical history and any other medication you are taking.
Also other medications, such as antibiotics, can make it less effective and an additional method of contraception, like condoms, should be used and seek the advice of your doctor.
Most importantly, the progestogen-only pill does not provide any protection against HIV [link to HIV] or other sexually transmitted infections like a condom does.
Where can I get it from and how much does it cost?
The progestogen-only pill is available free on the NHS. You can only get it on prescription. This can be from your GP, another GP who you have registered with for family planning services, a practice nurse or a family planning or young person's clinic.