Have you ever wondered what actually happens when you’re on the contraceptive pill? Here’s our guide on what the mini pill does to your body, how it can prevent pregnancy and what impact this all has on your ovulation.
What is the mini pill?
The mini pill is simply a more colloquial term for the progestogen-only pill, or PoP. The progestogen-only pill is just that – a contraceptive pill that contains progestogen, which is a synthetic version of our naturally occurring hormone progesterone.
Hana® is a progestogen-only pill that can be purchased without a prescription. You should take contraceptive pills like Hana® every day, at the same time, with no break between packs. When used correctly, Hana® is over 99% effective.
How does the mini pill work?
Hana® and other mini pills work predominantly in two ways. Pills containing desogestrel, like Hana®, primarily work by preventing ovulation, to minimise the chance of an egg being released for sperm to fertilise. Secondly, they work by thickening cervical mucus, which makes it more difficult for any sperm to reach an egg that might have been released prior to taking the mini pill.
What is ovulation?
Your ovaries are small oval-shaped glands located on either side of the uterus. They produce hormones and it is in the ovaries that ovulation begins. Ovulation is the process where an ovary releases an egg. After being released, the egg then travels down the fallopian tube where it stays for around 12 – 24 hours.
It is here that the egg can be fertilised if it comes into contact with sperm. It is often quite difficult to predict when ovulation will happen. Like your period, this can be different every month and some months you might not ovulate at all.
Do you ovulate while on the mini pill?
No – when taken correctly, you shouldn’t ovulate on the mini pill. This is why it is so important to keep taking the progestogen-only pill every single day, so there is no gap where your body could potentially release an egg.
Unlike the combined contraceptive pill, there is no break for a withdrawal bleed if you’re taking Hana® or another mini pill. Breakthrough bleeding can occur with this kind of contraceptive pill, but is not usually a cause for concern and should settle down within the first few months of taking the pill.
What happens to my period when I’m on the pill?
The contraceptive pill (regardless of which you are taking) contains synthetic versions of the naturally occurring hormones found in our bodies. As a result, some women experience a change in their menstrual cycle. For some women, this could mean that their period might stop altogether.
For others, bleeding might slightly increase, or they might just experience some spotting. If you’re experiencing particularly heavy or painful bleeding – and if you’ve noticed bleeding occurs after sex – then we would advise speaking to your GP.
What other side effects could I experience on the mini pill?
Like all medications, the contraceptive pill can sometimes induce side effects. Alongside irregular menstruation, other common side effects might include hormonal skin spots, weight gain, breast tenderness, decreased libido, altered or depressed mood, nausea and headaches. As with the change in menstruation, side effects should usually subside within a few months.*
When can I get pregnant after coming off the pill?
Theoretically, you can get pregnant as soon as you come off the pill and from the day you stop, you are no longer protected against pregnancy. We suggest using a barrier method of contraception (like condoms) if you’re coming off the pill and not looking to get pregnant, because everyone is completely different and your fertility should return quickly, if not straight away (depending on when you ovulate).
Every body is completely different, and so could react to the pill differently. You may have heard that the contraceptive pill can have lasting effects on your fertility, but there is no evidence to suggest this is true.