How to take the progestogen only pill
To get started with the progestogen only pill, you can:
make an appointment with your doctor - find a local GP in the UK
or make an appointment at your local sexual health clinic
The progestogen only pill is also available from a pharmacy, without a prescription.
Whoever gives you the progestogen only pill will probably ask questions about your health and your periods, to make sure it’s suitable for you, and explain the side effects.
Types of progestogen only pill
There are 2 types of progestogen only pill. One that contains desogestrel and is over 99% effective and another that contains levonorgestrel that's 98.5% effective.
Learn more about the types of progestogen only pill and how they work.
How many pills will you get?
There are 28 pills in each packet of desogestrel-containing pills, and 35 pills in each packet of levonorgestrel-containing pills.
If it’s your first time using the progestogen only pill, you’ll usually get a 3-month supply.
After 3 months, you’ll need to book a follow-up appointment to check that you’re happy with the method and talk about any side effects. You’ll then be able to get enough for 6 or 12 months.
Did you know?
If you’ve run out of the progestogen only pill, you can take your current pack to a pharmacy and they should give you a 1-month supply. They can only do this once, but it will keep you going until you can get a new prescription.
How to start the progestogen only pill
Unless there’s a chance you may be pregnant, you can start taking the progestogen only pill at any time, but when it becomes effective depends on where you are in your cycle.
If you start it during the first 5 days of your period, then the progestogen only pill is effective right away. At any other time, it works from when you take the third pill. This means you’ll need to use another method of contraception for the first 48 hours of taking the progestogen only pill.
You take the progestogen only pill at about the same time every day. Take it every day without any breaks.
Is there a chance you could be pregnant?
Before you start taking the pill, you need to be reasonably certain you’re not pregnant.
For example, if you’ve used condoms consistently and correctly every time you’ve had sex, then you can be reasonably certain you’re not pregnant. You can take the progestogen only pill right away.
If you’re not 100% certain, you can still start the progestogen only pill. After 3 weeks take a pregnancy test to make sure you’re definitely not pregnant. If the test result is positive, stop taking the pill and see your doctor.
Have you taken emergency contraception this cycle?
When you can start the progestogen only pill depends on what type of emergency contraception you’ve taken:
if you’ve taken levonorgestrel emergency pill, you can start the progestogen only pill straight away
if you've taken ulipristal acetate emergency pill, leave it 5 days until starting the progestogen only pill. This is because the ingredient ulipristal acetate can interact with the progestogen only pill and make both medications less effective
Either way, take a pregnancy test 3 weeks after starting the progestogen only pill.
What happens if you miss a pill?
The progestogen only pill becomes less effective very quickly after missing a pill so you’re much more likely to get pregnant and will need to use another method of contraception for the next 48 hours.
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