What are the risks of taking the progestogen-only pill?
If fertilization does occur, there is a small risk that the resultant pregnancy may be ectopic. An ectopic pregnancy is one that develops outside the womb, usually in a fallopian tube. Ectopic pregnancies are rare but can be dangerous. If a period is late and sudden pain develops, seek medical attention immediately. The incidence of ectopic pregnancy in women taking a POP is still much lower than in women who were not taking any contraception when they conceived.
A small number of women may develop cysts on the ovaries while taking the POP. These are harmless and will disappear without treatment. In some women cysts will cause pain while in others cysts will not cause any problems.
It is thought that the risk of developing breast cancer in women taking a POP is similar to that in women taking a combined hormonal contraceptive. However, the evidence of a link between breast cancer and the POP is based on a much smaller user population than that for combined hormonal contraceptives and is, therefore, less conclusive.
What are the different types of progestin-only pill?
The POP is taken every day without a break. The new pack is started the day after the previous pack is finished. A period may still occur as usual but in some women periods may stop altogether. Different tablets contain different levels of progestin and the doctor prescribing will make a choice about which is the most suitable. POPs that may be prescribed include norethinedrone (Micronor, Nora BE, Nor QD, Jolivette, Errin, Camila).
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/UnintendedPregnancy/Contraception.htm
Association of Reproductive Health Professionals: www.arhp.org/Publications-and-Resources/Quick-Reference-Guide-for-Clinicians/choosing/Progestin-Only-OCs
Last Reviewed: May 2013