Minipill (progestin only) icon


  • 91% effective
  • Take daily
  • Prescription required
  • Contains hormones
  • No STI/STD protection
  • Lighter periods


What is it?
  • The minipill (also called the progestin-only pill) is a small tablet with the hormone progestin that you take daily to prevent pregnancy. 

  • Minipills come in a pack, and you swallow 1 pill every day.

  • The minipill has a lower dose of hormones than the birth control pill.

  • You must take minipills within the same 3 hours every day to be protected from pregnancy.

  • If used perfectly, the minipill is 99% effective in preventing pregnancy. But people aren’t perfect. So, in reality, the minipill is 91% effective.1
How it works
  • The minipill contains the hormone progestin to stop you from getting pregnant. 

  • The hormones in the minipill work by:

    • Stopping your ovaries from releasing eggs. When eggs aren’t released, you can’t get pregnant.

    • Making the mucus in your cervix too thick for sperm to pass through. This prevents sperm from meeting an egg.
How to get it
  • You can get a prescription for minipills at your medical facility. 
  • Because of the Affordable Care Act, Kaiser Permanente members can get certain types of birth control methods at low or no cost. Check with Member Services or your provider for details. 
How to use it
  • Swallow 1 minipill each day at the same time. 

  • After you finish the pack of minipills, immediately start a new pack the next day.

  • Make sure you fill your prescription for the minipill on time, so you don’t miss a day. Getting a full 12-month supply of your prescription may help you continue your birth control without running out and having a risk of unplanned pregnancy.2 So be sure to ask your pharmacist about a 12-month supply. Depending on your coverage, you may be eligible to get a 12-month supply when filling your prescription.

  • If you forget to take 1 minipill, take it as soon as you can. If you take the pill more than 3 hours late, use condoms as a backup for the next 2 days. 

  • If you forget to take 2 minipills, take 1 as soon as you can and take your next pill at the usual time. You should also use condoms for the next 2 days.
  • The minipill is 91% effective in preventing pregnancy. That’s because people don’t always use it correctly or take it on time.

  • You may have more regular, lighter, shorter, and less painful periods.

  • The minipill is temporary. You can stop using it whenever you want to try getting pregnant.

  • The minipill can be used after you have a baby and while you’re breastfeeding.
  • The minipill doesn’t protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs/STDs), including HIV. Even if you take the minipill, you should use a condom every time you have sex to reduce your chances of getting or spreading STIs.

  • If you don’t take the minipill on schedule every day, you’re more likely to get pregnant.

  • The minipill may cause spotting.

  • Some people may experience headache or nausea. 


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© 2020 Kaiser Permanente

"Birth control pill,” Planned Parenthood,, accessed August 13, 2019.

2 "Oral contraceptive pills,”,, May 23, 2019.