Benefits of Progestin-only Birth Control Pills

March 17, 2011

Progestin-only pills are also called the mini pill. It's an oral contraceptive that contains only one synthetic hormone, progestin, which is the man-made version of progesterone. It works by thinning the lining of the uterus which can prevent implantation. It also thickens the cervical mucus making it more difficult for the sperm to reach the egg. It sometimes suppresses ovulation. Progestin oral contraceptives need to be taken at the same time every day for maximum effectiveness to make sure there's always enough of the hormone in your body to do the job it's supposed to do.

The Benefits

One of the biggest benefits of the progestin-only pill to women who might want to start a family soon is that the effects are immediately reversible. Fertility returns to normal almost immediately after taking the mini pill.

Women with sick cell disease or iron deficiency (anemia) also benefit from the mini pill because it reduces the frequency of menstruation and the loss of blood associated with menstruation. The mini pill is safe for women who are breastfeeding since the hormone dosage is lower and isn't transmitted to the baby through the breast milk.

Combination pills tend to have higher levels of hormones which can cause nausea, headaches, blood pressure changes and even depression in some women. Studies indicate that there is no associated weight gain with the progestin-only pill like there occasionally is with the combination pill depending on the level and balance of hormones.

How to Enjoy These Benefits

For the progestin-only pill to be as effective as it can be, it's important to make sure you take it correctly. It's crucial that you make sure you're not pregnant when you take the pill. It's not known whether or not the mini pill could damage a developing fetus during the early stages of pregnancy, but it's safer not to take the risk. That's why many healthcare practitioners will suggest you wait until your next period before starting the progestin-only pill to make sure you're not pregnant. Start the pill the first five days of your period. Women who have recently given birth should wait six weeks to as much as six months after birth before taking the mini pill if they're breastfeeding. This allows the milk to fully come in and be completely established before additional hormones are added to your body.

If you've recently given birth and are not breast feeding, many health professionals will suggest you start the mini pill (if that's your chosen form of contraceptive) with the first 21 days of giving birth.

If you're switching from another type of hormone birth control, you should take the progestin-only pill the day after you stop the first type of hormone birth control. Use the mini pill immediately after an abortion if this is your chosen form of contraceptive.

The Correct Way to Take It

Using the mini pill isn't complicated. You need to take a single pill every day with no breaks. With combination birth control pills you receive different hormone doses for three weeks and then take placebos for the last week to allow for a period. Some studies show that the progestin-only pill takes four hours to thicken the cervical mucus enough to act as a barrier against sperm. If you tend to be more sexually active at bed time in the evening, you should take the pill several hours earlier to increase your protection against pregnancy.

If you miss a pill, take the missed pill immediately and then the following one at the time you usually take it. You should use back up birth control to reduce your chances of getting pregnant.

 

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