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Birth Control Health Center

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Birth Control Pills

What Are Mini Pills?

These are pills that contain only one hormone (progestin). They do not contain estrogen and may be prescribed in women who are breastfeeding or in women who experience nausea with estrogen.

How Do Mini Pills Work?

Mini pills work by thickening the cervical mucus so the sperm cannot reach the egg. The hormone in the pills also changes the lining of the uterus, so that implantation of a fertilized egg is much less likely to occur. In some cases, mini pills prevent the release of an egg. A pill is taken every day.

How Effective Are Mini Pills?

If mini pills are used consistently and correctly, they are about 95% effective -- somewhat less effective than standard birth control pills.

Where Can I Get Birth Control Pills?

Birth control pills are only available with a doctor's prescription.

How Are Birth Control Pills Packaged?

You will receive a set of pills packaged in a thin case. Pill packs containing regular birth control pills have either 21 or 28 pills. Twenty-one-day pill packs contain 21 active pills. Twenty-eight day pill packs contain 21 active pills and seven inactive (placebo) pills. The pill packs are marked with the days of the week to remind you to take a pill every day. The seven inactive pills in the 28-day pill pack are added so that you are reminded to start a new pill pack after 28 days.

Some newer pills have only 2 inactive pills or even no inactive pills in the pack. It's important to always take all the pills to be sure you are protected from getting pregnant.

A package of extended-cycle Seasonale contains 84 active pink tablets and seven inactive white pills. With Seasonique and LoSeasonique, the last 7 pills contain estrogen only.

How Do I Begin Birth Control Pills?

Ask your doctor when you should start birth control pills. If you are still having your period on the day that you have been told to start your pill pack, go ahead and start the pill pack anyway. You will get your next period about 25 days after starting the pill pack.

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