Mini-Pills for Birth Control: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Mini-pills are used to prevent pregnancy. They release a regular dose of the hormone progestin. They are different from regular combination birth control pills, which contain both progestin and estrogen.

Mini-pills come in packs. Every mini-pill in the pack contains progestin. There are no sugar pills. So you have to take a pill every day at the same time to prevent pregnancy, even during your period.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

How do you take the mini-pill?

  • Follow your doctor's instructions about when to start taking your pills. It's best to take your first pill on the first day of your period. If you take the first pill another day, use backup birth control, such as a condom, or don't have intercourse for the next 48 hours (2 days).
  • Take every mini-pill in the pack, even during your period. Don't stop taking your pills if you have spotting between periods.
  • Take the pill at the same time every day.
  • Start your next pack the day after the last pack is finished. There is no break between packs. Always have your next pack of pills ready.

What if you forget to take a pill?

Always read the label for specific instructions, or call your doctor. Here are some basic guidelines:

  • If you miss a pill, take it as soon as you remember, even if that means you will take 2 pills in one day. Then go back to your regular schedule.
  • If you take a pill more than 3 hours late, use backup birth control, such as a condom, or don't have intercourse for the next 48 hours to prevent pregnancy.
  • If you had intercourse within 5 days of forgetting to take the pill, you can use emergency contraception to help prevent pregnancy. The most effective emergency contraception is an IUD (inserted by a doctor). You can also get emergency contraceptive pills. You can get them with a prescription from your doctor or without a prescription at most drugstores.

What else do you need to know?

  • The mini-pill can have side effects.
    • You may have changes in your period and your period may stop. You may also have spotting or bleeding between periods.
    • You may have mood changes, less interest in sex, or weight gain.
  • If you vomit or have diarrhea soon after taking a pill, use a backup method or don't have intercourse for 7 days.
  • Check with your doctor before you use any other medicines, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbal products, and supplements. Birth control hormones may not work as well to prevent pregnancy when combined with other medicines.
  • The mini-pill doesn't protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as herpes or HIV/AIDS. If you're not sure whether your sex partner might have an STI, use a condom to protect against disease.

When should you call for help?

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if you have any problems.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.