What is the ‘Mini Pill’?
When starting to think about contraception, there are so many new things to learn. Not only do you want to be sure that you understand your cycle and the type of impact the pill might have on it, but there is a whole new vocabulary to wrap your head around. One of the things you could potentially hear and feel a little uncertain about is the “mini pill”.
Did you know that there are two types of contraceptive pills? The first is the combined pill, which contains a combination of two hormones: a synthetic form of the hormone progesterone called a progestogen and a synthetic form of oestrogen. The second is the progestogen-only pill, which contains progestogen as the active ingredient.
To put it plainly, the progestogen-only pill and the mini pill are one and the same. It is sometimes referred to as the “mini pill” as it contains just one active ingredient – a synthetic type of hormone called a progestogen. In Hana®’s case, this is desogestrel.
At Hana®, we use the term “progestogen-only pill” to offer a little extra clarity, so that you can be confident that you know what the active ingredient is. We find the term “mini pill” a little confusing, and we want contraception to be as straightforward as possible!
How effective is the “Mini Pill”?
Don’t let the phrase “mini pill” fool you into thinking that the progestogen-only pill is less effective. The combined pill and the progestogen-only pill are both over 99% effective when used correctly.
Hana® contains a progestogen called desogestrel which has been in medical use in Europe since the 1970s. As the second most used contraceptive pill ingredient in the UK, desogestrel has been used by millions of women and people with uteruses to avoid unplanned pregnancies.
Contraceptive pills that contain desogestrel help prevent pregnancy by working primarily to stop ovulation (egg release) which means sperm have nothing to fertilise. It also works by altering cervical mucus to make it more difficult for sperm to travel to the uterus.
How does desogestrel prevent ovulation?
You may be aware that the lining of the uterus is shed during your period, and this is what causes bleeding. Following ovulation, progesterone helps to regulate the thickness of that lining (known as the endometrium) in preparation for the possibility of a pregnancy and prevents the uterus from rejecting a fertilised egg.
When progesterone is low and oestrogen begins dropping prior to ovulation, this signals the body to begin producing different hormones (namely luteinising hormones and follicular stimulating hormones) which in turn trigger ovulation. By keeping progesterone levels high, it is possible to suppress these hormones and prevent ovulation altogether.
The presence of a high level of progesterone also causes cervical mucus to become thicker. Cervical mucus changes throughout the cycle and performs various functions, including lubricating the vagina and keeping infection out. Following ovulation, when progesterone levels are higher, the cervical mucus takes on a thicker, stickier consistency, and this is what can help prevent sperm from making it to the uterus.
Desogestrel – the synthetic version of the hormone progesterone active in Hana® – causes the hormonal reaction that allows these functions to occur outside of the phase following ovulation, known also as the luteal phase. So you can see why we don’t think that the phrase “mini pill” adequately describes what Hana® can do when taken correctly!