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GB-NON-02457 | Date of Preparation: April 2020


Progestogen-only pill (POP)

Progestogen-only contraceptive pills contain the hormone progestogen. There are many different birth control POPs available, in two main types which determine how strict you need to be with when you take them. As you can probably tell by the name, unlike the combined pill, they don't contain oestrogen.1


POP key facts


Needs to be taken every day at the same time1


Two different types of POP available1


Can be used while breastfeeding1

  • Its typical effectiveness is around 92%,* but with perfect use it is 99%1
  • May be suitable for women who can’t or don’t want to take oestrogen1
  • Your periods might become lighter, more frequent or stop altogether1
  • Effectiveness can be affected by vomiting or diarrhoea1
  • The POP may not consistently prevent egg release1,2

The pros and cons listed are not exhaustive. Talk to your doctor or nurse for more information.

*These are "typical" effectiveness rates, which is how effective the method is with an average person. Typical rates tend to reflect real life usage (including inconsistent and incorrect use). "Perfect" effectiveness rates are how effective the method is when used perfectly. Refer to the patient information leaflet for "perfect" use.

Common questions

Who is the POP not suitable for?

Most women can use the POP including women over 35 and smokers.1 However, there are a number of medical conditions or medicines you can take that might make it unsuitable. It’s best to discuss the details with your doctor or nurse.

What are the different types of POP?

There are 2 different types of this form of contraception. The 3-hour POP is the traditional progestogen-only pill. You need to take it within 3 hours of the same time each day. The 12-hour POP contains desogestrel, and must be taken within 12 hours of the same time each day.1

Are there health risks with the POP?

Like with any medicine, there are side effects and potential downsides, like a small risk of ovarian cysts. For most people, the good stuff outweighs the bad but it’s always worth chatting through the details with your doctor or nurse before making a decision.1

Similar contraceptive types

This contraceptive is a type known as short-acting – for more contraceptives like this, click below

Combined pill

Tell me more


Tell me more

Vaginal ring

Tell me more

So what do I do now?

Now you have a few options for types of contraception that might be right for you, you should have a chat with a GP/doctor or nurse.


Sexual health clinic

Find and visit a contraception clinic near you for information about your available choices.

Find out more


Pop into your local pharmacy and ask about your options.

Find a pharmacy

GP clinic

Make an appointment with your nurse or doctor so you can chat about what options are best for you.

Find a GP

You may want to download information on your options to help with your discussion.

Download now

PDF - 0.5MB

Reporting of Side Effects: If you get any side effects, talk to your doctor, pharmacist or nurse. This includes any possible side effects not listed in the package leaflet. You can also report side effects directly via the Yellow Card Scheme at By reporting side effects you can help provide more information on the safety of this medicine.


  1. NHS contraception guide: The progestogen-only pill.
    Available at: (Last accessed June 2019).
  2. FPA Sexwise: Progestogen-only pill (POP).
    Available at: (Last accessed June 2019).
  1. Merriam-Webster medical dictionary. Available at: (Last accessed September 2019).

Contraceptive Match is an awareness campaign which has been fully funded and developed by MSD.

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