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Progestogen-only pill

About the progestogen-only pill

If taken correctly, it can be more than 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. You take a pill at the same time every day, with no break between packs of pills. If you take it more than three hours late (or 12 hours late if you take a desogestrel pill, such as Cerelle) it may not be effective.

The progestogen-only pill (POP) can be used by women who can't use contraception that contains oestrogen e.g. because they have high blood pressure, previous blood clots or are overweight.

You can take the progestogen-only pill if you're over 35 and you smoke. Your periods may stop or become lighter, irregular or more frequent.

Side effects may include spotty skin and breast tenderness - these should clear up within a few months.

The progestogen-only pill doesn’t protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). By using condoms as well as the progestogen-only pill, you'll help to protect yourself against STIs.

How the progestogen-only pill works

The progestogen-only pill works by thickening the mucus in the neck of the womb, so it is harder for sperm to penetrate into the womb and reach an egg. It’s important to follow the instructions that come with your pill packet, because missing pills or taking the pill alongside other medicines can reduce its effectiveness.

There are 28 pills in a pack of progestogen-only pills. You need to take one pill every day, within either three or 12 hours of the same time each day, depending on which type you are taking. There’s no break between packs of pills - when you finish one pack, you start the next one the next day.

You can start the progestogen-only pill at any time in your menstrual cycle. If you start it on day one of your menstrual cycle (the first day of your period) it will work straight away and you will be protected against pregnancy. You won’t need additional contraception.

If you start the progestogen-only pill on any other day of your cycle, you will not be protected from pregnancy straight away and will need additional contraception until you have taken the pill for 2 days.

Where you can get the progestogen-only pill (POP)

If you think the POP is the right contraception choice, you can:

If you need to bring your child/children with you to your appointment we recommend you bring another adult with you to care for them.

*Our walk-in and wait clinics offer limited slots and operate on a first come first served basis. When clinics are at full capacity, patients asking to be seen will be triaged and those who fit our urgent criteria will be a priority. At busy times we may need to signpost non-urgent cases to other clinics or recommend patients make an appointment for an alternative day or suggest a return visit.

More information

For more information visit NHS Choices – Progestogen-only pill

Download Family Planning Association’s Your guide to the progestogen-only pill.