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Frequently Asked Questions

Progestin-only Pills (POP)

POPs are oral hormonal contraceptives containing only progestins at low doses. Brands available in the Philippines are Cerazette, Daphne and Exluton.
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  • POPs prevent ovulation in 50% of cycles in lynestrenol preparation and 97% of cycles in desogestrel preparation. Suppression of ovulation is more common in older women and those who are breastfeeding. This process takes effect after at least seven days of regular pill intake.
  • POPs mainly thicken the cervical mucus and impair the entry of sperm into the uterus. These changes are effective 48 hours after beginning the pill
  • For breastfeeding women, POPs are 99.5% effective with perfect use and 99% effective with typical use. These effectiveness rates are lower for women who are not breastfeeding.
  • POPs must be taken at the same time every day. When taken even a few hours late, these pills will be less effective.

Yes. POPs are a good choice for a breastfeeding mothers who want a hormonal method. POPs are safe for both the mother and the baby and can be immediately started after childbirth or before discharge from the facility. They do not affect the quality and amount of milk produced by the mother.

No. The pill works by preventing ovulation or the release of an egg from the ovaries and thickens cervical mucus to make it harder for a sperm to enter the uterus.

Evidence finds that the pill do not disrupt an existing pregnancy or cause a miscarriage. POPs should not be used to try to cause an abortion. They will not do so. In the rare instances when POPs fail to prevent pregnancy, there will be no harmful effects on the pregnancy.

No. Good evidence shows that POP will not cause birth defects and will not otherwise harm the fetus if a woman becomes pregnant while taking them or accidentally starts to take the pill when she is already pregnant.

Yes. There is no minimum or maximum age for pill use. Oral contraceptives can be an appropriate method for most women from onset of monthly bleeding (menarche) to menopause unless there are medical conditions the prevents its use. 

Yes. Oral contraceptives are safe for women with varicose veins. Varicose veins are not dangerous. They are not blood clots, nor are these veins the deep veins in the legs where a blood clot can be dangerous (deep vein thrombosis). But a woman who has or has had deep vein thrombosis should not use COCs but can use POPs.

  • Ovarian and Uterine Cancers – oral contraceptives has protective effect for 15 or more years after using.
  • Breast Cancer – global studies are difficult to interpret. Slight increase of risk after > 10 years of use but breast cancers hit both women who are using and not using. The key prevention is early detection with screening.
    Breast cancers in pill users are caught early because pill users are checked on regularly and non-users do not.
  • Cervical Cancer – usually caused by sexually transmitted infection, the Human Papilloma Virus. Pill use of more than five years indicates a temporary slight increase in risk.

No. Taking a “rest” from oral contraceptive use can lead to unintended pregnancy. The pill can be safely used for many years without having to stop taking them periodically. The fluctuations in hormone from starting and stopping pill use can cause side effects to reappear and increase the risk of an unintended pregnancy, which poses a bigger health risk than using the pill.

A woman’s fertility return as soon as she stops taking oral contraceptives. She can become pregnant as quickly. The menstrual pattern she had prior to using the pill generally returns after she stops taking them. Some women may have to wait a few months before their usual menstrual pattern returns.

No. Most women do not gain or lose weight due to POP use. Weight changes naturally as life circumstances change and as people age. Because these are so common, many women think that the pill cause these weight changes. Studies have shown that, on average, oral contraceptives do not affect weight. A few women experience sudden changes in weight when using the pill. These changes reverse after they stop taking the pill. It is not known why these women respond to the pill in this way. Women experiencing some weight gain might need to review lifestyle changes first (exercise, diet) before advising them to switch to other modern family planning methods.

Generally, no. There is no evidence that POPs affect women’s sexual behavior. The great majority of pill users do not report any such changes, however, and some report that both mood and sex drive improve. It is difficult to tell whether such changes are due to the pill or to other reasons.

  • Can be used by breastfeeding mothers six weeks after childbirth without affecting the quality and quantity of breast milk
  • No estrogen side effects
  • Promotes compliance in pill taking, as women take one pill every day with no break, and instructions are easily understandable
  • Can be very effective during breastfeeding
  • May help prevent benign breast disease, endometrial and ovarian cancer, and pelvic inflammatory disease

A woman can avail of POPs in the following facilities:

  1. All city and municipal health centers provide progestin-only pills for FREE.
  2. Government hospitals with family planning facilities.
  3. Private birthing homes or lying-in clinics.
  4. Private doctors and clinics.

Click HERE to search for Providers of “POPs” located near you.

Source: “Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Modern Family Planning Methods: Stop Rumors, Myths And Misconceptions with Correct Answers to Everyday Questions About Modern FP Method” by the Philippine DOH, USAID and JHPIEGO

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