What are the benefits of the progesterone only pill?

Contraceptive pills next to a clock

Using progesterone-only pills can have many advantages.

Birth control pills are the most favoured birth control method used by 28% of women in the UK. These pills employ various means, e.g., thickening the cervical mucus, thinning the uterine wall (making it unfit for conceiving), or disturbing the ovulation (release of the egg from the ovary).

These pills contain either a combination of oestrogen and progesterone or progesterone alone. Mainly, the synthetic analogues of these hormones are used instead of the natural ones. In addition, oestrogen is added to these pills to avoid any disturbance in menstrual bleeding. However, most of the side effects associated with combined hormonal birth control pills, e.g., weight disturbance after giving birth, constipation, nausea, high blood pressure, vomiting, swelling of gums, disturbed appetite, diarrhoea etc..., are associated with oestrogen.

Therefore, gynaecologists have developed a new solution, the "minipills.''

What are minipills?

Minipills are a type of birth control pill containing only progesterone. They mostly contain synthetic progesterone instead of natural ones. These synthetic progesterones are more potent than natural progesterone and are required in a lower dose. These minipills are used to avoid the disadvantages associated with oestrogen in combined hormonal contraceptives. A minipill present in the market could be:

Progestogen-only pill

A progestogen-only pill (POP) contains progestogen, a synthetic form of progesterone. These minipills should be taken daily for desired results. Under typical use, you can get a 91% efficacy from these pills. However, the effectiveness could go to 99% under perfect service.

Progestin-only pill

A progestin-only pill (POP) contains another synthetic progestogen, the progestin. This contraceptive pill should also be taken daily and has similar advantages and disadvantages as the progestogen-only pills.

Benefits of using progestogen-only pills

Despite their low efficacy than combined oral contraceptives, minipills are becoming increasingly popular. While using minipills, you are expected to enjoy the following benefits.

A perfect choice if you are a smoker

A smoker woman? Yes! It's possible in the UK as in the whole of the world. According to the Office for National Statistics, about 3.1 million women in the UK are smokers. It represents 12.5% of the total women population in the UK. Smoking is likely to aggravate the side effects of oestrogen if you are using a combined oral contraceptive. In women near menopause, oestrogen (which regulates the bleeding patterns) is also no longer necessary. Near menopause, you shouldn't be worried about irregular bleeding.

So, you can opt for progesterone-only pills if you are a smoker and are near menopause. Progesterone-only pills can be used up to the age of 55.

Enjoy good efficacy without side effects.

The progesterone-only pills may not offer you the 99% efficacy of combined medications, but they are still better (91% in actual settings) than male condoms (88% in actual settings). This couples with the advantage that these mini pills contain progestin which is more effective than natural progesterone. So, you can get all benefits at a lower dose.

Sex drive

Too high a level of oestrogen tends to depressed libido and sex drive. However, the minipills will not disturb your intercourse timing.

Minipills don't disturb breastfeeding.

The combined pills tend to negatively influence breastfeeding performance in the initial phases of lactation. So, the woman on combined pills may not have enough milk for her babies. However, the use of minipills doesn't influence the process of milk let-down. Consult your family planning nurse about this.

So, you don't need to compromise your baby's food for your comfort. Moreover, the oestrogen-based pills cause breast tenderness which may cause nuisance while feeding your baby.

No age restriction

Given their efficacy and safety, you can use minipills at any age as soon as your menstrual cycle is working. In addition, you can use progestogen-only birth control pills for up to 55 years of age.

Safe in cardiovascular and metabolic diseases

Oestrogen is contraindicated in many problems, e.g., thromboembolism, myocardial infarction, strokes, breast cancer, hypertension, headaches, diabetes, being immobile after surgery, having recently given birth, and feeding your baby. The progesterone-only minipills became your trusted partners in these complications.

Minipills help you with dermatitis.

Various skin conditions, e.g., dermatitis causing sores, redness and swelling on the skin, occur with advancing age. It is related to the disturbance of hormones in puberty, particularly the disturbance of oestrogen levels. So, shifting to oestrogen-free minipills will help you to fight skin infections.

Use condoms to avoid sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

You shouldn't be worried about STIs if you use a sterile male or female condom with these pills. However, these pills can't assure the prevention of STDs without condoms.

Good choice for emergency contraception

Have you gone through unprotected sexual intercourse? You might be worried about preventing pregnancy. The progestin-only pills are trusted in avoiding pregnancy due to emergency contraception. However, a missed pill can cause unwanted pregnancy.

Do not worry about your weight gain.

Oestrogen is a combined pill that has a role in regulating body fat. So, a progestogen-only pill allows you to achieve contraception without an increased risk of pregnancy.

Are these mini pills suitable for everyone?

Not. Before using these pills, you should be fully aware of their advantages and disadvantages. Although they can help you in many ways, you should consider these factors.

  • These minipills are effective only within 72 hours after sex. Their effectiveness wanes with time. So, any mini pill taken after this time will go waste.
  • Tell your doctor If you are undergoing treatment for breast cancer or had this condition in the past., had liver disease, have undergone weight loss surgery recently, or have chronic infections, e.g., tuberculosis, epilepsy, AIDS, etc...
  • These minipills will not reduce the risk of STDs. So, don't forget to use condoms.
  • Don't forget to use pills regularly. If you miss a pill or more and get pregnant, you are likely to develop an ectopic pregnancy in which the foetus attaches within the oviduct instead of the uterus. Such a pregnancy couldn't be carried out, and you may need surgery to remove the foetus.

Bottom-line

Although they are not entirely free of disadvantages, a progesterone-only minipill is still much better and safer than the traditional combined oral contraceptive pill. However, you have to take them regularly and consult your gynaecologist if you have any health problems. Your gynaecologist is the final authority to recommend a suitable contraceptive method.

For further information and tests, please visit our Welzo Online Pharmacy Page.

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