What is the Hana mini pill?
The mini pill is a daily hormonal contraceptive used to prevent pregnancy in women and adolescents of child-bearing age. Unlike the combined oral contraception (COC) pill, which contains artificial versions of both oestrogen and progestogen, the Hana contraceptive pill only contains progestogen, and therefore is sometimes referred to as the progestogen only pill, progesterone only pill, or POP. Other popular mini pill brands containing the same ingredients include the Cerelle pill and the Cerazette pill, the only difference being that Hana is available over-the-counter whilst the others require a prescription.
How does this mini pill work?
The Hana mini pill contains an artificial progestogen (referred to as a progestin) that imitates the female sex hormone progesterone. This progestin is called desogestrel. Desogestrel works by preventing ovulation during the menstrual cycle, stopping an egg from being released. It also thickens the mucus in the cervix to make it harder for sperm to reach an egg. Additionally, desogestrel reduces the lining of the womb, making it more difficult for a fertilised egg to implant itself.
How effective is the mini pill at preventing pregnancy?
The Hana mini pill is over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy (NHS). However, factors such as missing taking the pill, or being ill with diarrhoea or vomiting, could reduce the efficacy of the pill to approximately 91%. These factors influencing the effectiveness of the Hana mini pill similarly apply to other contraceptive pills.
How do you take the mini pill?
The Hana mini pill is an oral tablet, and should be swallowed whole. You should take 1 tablet at the same time every day without a break between packs. This is important to ensure that the pill is successful at preventing pregnancy, so it’s recommended to pick a convenient time of the day and link it to something you already do every day, such as cleaning your teeth. The tablets are labelled with corresponding days of the week to help you keep track of taking one daily. Your period may become irregular or may stop entirely whilst you’re taking Hana, but this is not a cause for concern.
What happens if you stop taking the mini pill?
If you forget to take the Hana contraceptive pill, and are less than 12 hours late, take the tablet straight away. Take your further tablets as usual, which may mean taking two tablets over the course of the same day. If you do this in under 12 hours, your contraception should not be compromised.
If you do not take the mini pill for more than 12 hours after you were meant to, take the most recently missed tablet immediately, leaving any earlier missed tablets. Take your further tablets as usual, which may mean taking two tablets in the same day. Use additional contraception, such as condoms, for the next 7 days. Missing one or more tablets in the first week of taking this mini pill, and having sex during the week prior to missing the tablets, puts you at the highest risk of getting pregnant. If this is the case, you may need to use an emergency contraceptive.
What are the advantages of the mini pill compared to the combined contraceptive pill?
The progestogen-only pill is perfect for those who cannot use a contraception containing oestrogen, such as the combined birth control pill. Such individuals include those who are over 35, and those who smoke. Hana is also safe to take whilst you are breastfeeding, as clinical trials have shown that the quality of breastmilk is not affected by the treatment.
Another advantage is that the desogestrel pill is now available over the counter under the Hana brand name.
Who is the mini pill not suitable for?
You should not take this daily contraceptive pill if you qualify for any of the following:
- You are pregnant or think you might be pregnant
- You have or are suspected of having a sex-steroid sensitive cancer, such as breast cancer
- You have had a blood clot in your legs (thrombosis) or lungs (pulmonary embolism)
- You have or have previously had jaundice or severe liver disease
- You experience unexplained vaginal bleeding between your periods, or if you repeatedly have bleeding after sex
- You are allergic to desogestrel or to any of the other ingredients in Hana
What are the side effects of the Hana mini pill?
Like all medication, you may experience some side effects when taking the mini pill.
Common side effects from taking the pill, which may affect up to 1 in 10 women, include:
- Altered mood
- Reduced libido
- Irregular or no periods
- Breast pain
- Increased body weight
Uncommon mini pill side effects, which may affect up to 1 in 100 women, include:
- Vaginal infection
- Painful periods
- Difficulties in wearing contact lenses
- Hair loss
- Ovarian cysts
Contact your doctor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms, as they may indicate a more serious side effect:
- Swollen face, lips, tongue and/or throat
- A sudden or severe pain in the lower abdomen
- Swelling, redness or pain in the leg
- Chest pain, breathlessness or coughing up blood
Always read the patient information leaflet before commencing treatment.