backup og meta
Health Screening
Ask Doctor

Mini Pill vs Combination Pill Effectiveness: Which One Should I Use?

Written by Stephanie Nera, RPh, PharmD · Pharmacology

Updated Jun 06

Mini Pill vs Combination Pill Effectiveness: Which One Should I Use?

If you are considering oral contraception for birth control, you may be comparing the effectiveness of the mini pill vs combination pill. Both pills are effective as birth control, but each have their own pros and cons. Read on to learn more about the effectiveness of the mini pill and combination pills.

About birth control hormones


Progesterone and progestin (a synthetic form of progesterone) are mainly responsible for preventing ovulation. Without the release of an egg into the uterus, fertilization cannot take place, thus preventing pregnancy. Additionally, progesterone alters the environment of the cervix and uterus and makes it harder for sperm to pass.

Essentially, progesterone makes the body believe that it is already pregnant and prevents ovulation. During pregnancy, progesterone levels are naturally increased and maintained. However, if you stop taking pills with progesterone, fertility is quickly restored and you can get pregnant.


Estrogen is another hormone that impacts your ability to get pregnant. It is important to note that estrogen alone does not prevent pregnancy. Estrogen has more of an effect on the uterine lining, which in turn, has an impact on fertilization. It is effective for regulating menstrual flow.

About the mini pill

The mini pill is another name for progestogen-only or progestin-only pills. These pills do not contain any estrogen, unlike combination pills. Another difference between the mini pill and combination pills is that the dose of progesterone in the mini pill is lower.

Does having only one hormone make the mini pill less effective? The answer is no. Because progesterone is the hormone that protects against pregnancy, the lack of estrogen will not affect its effectiveness.

However, the mini pill is only effective when it is taken properly. This means taking it at the same time every day without missing a dose. Forgetting to take your pill or missing the dose by more than 3 hours can increase the risk of getting pregnant.

Some women experience weight gain, nausea, headaches, cramping, or decreased libido while taking oral contraceptives. Unlike the combination pills, the progestin-only pills are suitable for women who are over 35 years old or smokers. It is also possible to use the mini pill if you are breastfeeding.

Mini Pill vs Combination Pill Effectiveness

About combination pills

There are many combination pills available in pharmacies today. Aside from birth control, combination pills are often prescribed to manage symptoms of dysmenorrhea, PCOS, and hormonal acne.

As an oral contraception, combination pills are just as effective as the mini pill. However, combination pills are slightly more forgiving when you miss a dose. This way, you may be less likely to get pregnant while taking a combined pill.

While the estrogen in the combination pill can ease heavy menstrual flows, cramping, and reduce the risk of certain cancers, increased estrogen can also have unwanted side effects. 

Use of estrogen-containing pills may slightly increase your risk of breast cancer, deep vein thrombosis, and stroke. If you are breastfeeding, you cannot use combination pills as it can lessen milk production. Women over the age of 35 years and women who smoke cigarettes should not take combination birth control pills, as the risk for adverse effects increases.

Key takeaways

We have discussed the mini pill vs combination pill effectiveness as birth control. Both are equally effective for preventing unwanted pregnancies. If you have trouble with heavy, painful periods or PCOS, using a combined pill may be beneficial. Discuss contraceptives and family planning with your doctor to determine which type of pill is best for you.

Learn more about Sexual Wellness here.


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Written by

Stephanie Nera, RPh, PharmD


Updated Jun 06

ad iconadvertisement

Was this article helpful?

ad iconadvertisement
ad iconadvertisement