As the name suggests, the Progestogen-Only Pill (POP), contains just one hormone, progestogen.
There are 28 pills in a pack with each pill containing the same dose. The POP must be taken at the same time every day without a break.
How does it work?
- Thickens the mucus at the entrance to the uterus (cervix) to stop sperm from moving into the uterus.
- Sometimes stops the ovaries from releasing an egg.
How well does it work?
The POP has to be taken at the same time every day for it to work. Some people find it useful to set a daily reminder or alarm on their phone to help them remember to take it at the same time. It is more than 99.7% effective at preventing pregnancy if taken perfectly, but in real life it can be less effective (91%) because pills can be forgotten or missed.
Can anyone use the POP?
You can’t take the POP if you have:
- severe liver problems
- some other medical conditions – talk to your doctor about any medical conditions you may have
What are the benefits?
- Periods usually become lighter and sometimes stop altogether.
- Safe to use if you’re breastfeeding or you can’t take oestrogen.
The POP will not work if you take it more than three hours late.
What are the downsides?
- The POP does not protect against STIs but can be used at the same time as condoms.
- It is usually less effective than the Pill.
- If you find it hard to remember to take the POP at the same time everyday, you could try a long acting reversible contraceptive like the contraceptive implant.
- Regular period patterns can change and you may get unpredictable or irregular bleeding (talk to your doctor about this).
- The POP won’t work properly if you:
- take it more than three hours late
- have vomiting or severe diarrhoea
- are taking certain other medications at the same time
If any of these things happen and you have sex, the POP may not work properly. You may want to use Emergency Contraception. Another form of contraception, like condoms, should also be used until you’ve been taking the POP correctly again for three days. Talk to your doctor, Family Planning clinic or chemist about this.
Are there side effects?
Most women have very few side effects because the POP has a low dose of hormones. You may still experience:
- tender breasts
- mood changes
- irregular spotting (breakthrough bleeding)
Where do you get it?
The POP is available with a prescription from your doctor or a Family Planning NSW clinic.