The mini pill

The mini pill is:

  • 99% effective when you use the method correctly every time
  • 91% effective when you don’t always use the method correctly

What is it?

The mini pill is a contraceptive tablet containing an artificial female hormone progestogen.

In Ireland, only Northisterone and Desogestrel progestogen pills are available.

How does it work?

The mini pill prevents sperm getting through your cervix (neck of your womb).

It may also thin the lining of your womb and this prevents an egg from being implanted, and it may prevent an egg from being released.

You should talk to a doctor about what type of contraceptive is best for you.


  • Does not interrupt sex.
  • Useful for women who are good at remembering to take pills on a daily basis.
  • Useful for women who cannot, or do not want to, take oestrogen, such as women over 35 who smoke.
  • Can be used when breastfeeding.


  • If you take the Norethisterone based pill then you must take it at the same time every day. Other contraception may be needed if you take the pill more than 3 hours late.
  • If you take the Desogestrel based pill then you can take this any time up to 36 hours after your last pill, the mini pill might stop working.
  • Use another method of contraception if you take the pill late.

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