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Progestin-Only Hormonal Birth Control

Birth control options that contain only progestin include:

Progestin-Only Pills (Mini Pill)

Some birth control pills contain only progestin (called the “mini pill”), which is useful for women who cannot or should not take estrogen, including women who are breastfeeding.

Progestin-only pills are taken on a 28-day cycle, and ALL 28 pills contain the active hormone. One pill should be taken every day at the same time, and there is NO placebo pill week. Breakthrough bleeding or spotting can occur at any time with progestin-only pills.

Injectable Birth Control—3-Month Shot

The only injectable contraceptive currently available in the United States is medroxyprogesterone acetate or DMPA (Depo-Provera®). DMPA is injected into a muscle—such as the buttock or upper arm—once every three months. DMPA is very effective, with a failure (pregnancy) rate of less than one percent when the injection is given on time.

Birth Control Implant

Nexplanon® is a single-rod progestin implant. About the size of a matchstick, this flexible plastic rod is inserted under the skin into the upper inner arm by your healthcare provider. It is effective for up to three years, but can be removed if pregnancy is desired sooner. Insertion and removal is done in the Women First office.

Nexplanon is one of the most effective methods of birth control. It provides three years of protection from pregnancy as progestin is slowly released. Irregular bleeding is the most bothersome side effect. Fertility returns rapidly after removal of the rod.

Intra-Uterine Devices (IUDs) with Progestin Only

Intra-uterine devices, or IUDs, are small devices placed in your uterus to prevent pregnancy. They require no effort from you to maintain, and they can be removed by your doctor at any time. This makes them a form of longer-acting birth control that is quickly reversible if you decide you want to try to get pregnant.

Of course, no birth control is right for everyone and there are risks associated with IUDs that you should know about. Only you and your Women First healthcare provider can decide if an IUD is right for you.


Mirena is an progestin-only IUD, placed in your uterus, that releases small amounts of hormone to give you continuous birth control for as long as you want—for up to 5 years. It's more than 99% effective at preventing pregnancy, contains no estrogen, and can be removed by your healthcare provider at any time so you can try to get pregnant. Mirena also is used to lighten heavy periods and can be used for this purpose even if you do not need contraception.

Click here to learn more about Mirena IUD.


Kyleena is the smallest 5-year IUD that gives you 5-year, nonstop pregnancy prevention through a continuous low dose of progestin in the uterus. It's more than 99% effective at preventing pregnancy for each year of use, and 98.5% effective over five years. It’s easy to make sure that Kyleena is in place with a monthly thread check. And Kyleena is estrogen-free.

Click here to learn more about Kyleena IUD.


Skyla is a hormone-releasing IUD that is over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy for up to 3 years. Skyla releases small amounts of the hormone progestin into your uterus slowly and continuously. Estrogen-free, Skyla works to prevent pregnancy for up to 3 years and can be removed by your healthcare provider at any time for you to try to become pregnant.

Click here to learn more about Skyla IUD.

Progestin-Only Side Effects

All of the progestin-only methods have similar common side effects. None contain estrogen, so are good options for women who can’t take estrogen or are breastfeeding.

The biggest side effect is irregular bleeding for the first few months. it is usually lighter and less crampy, but can be very frequent—even daily—and annoying. After the first six months, most women have an occasional, light, random period and will not have a regular monthly period.

All of the progestin-only methods of contraception are good options to treat heavy, crampy periods.

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