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Do progestin-only pills have any side effects?

Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Practitioner

Side effects may include headaches, depression, weight gain, swelling, breast tenderness, nausea, irregular periods, breakthrough bleeding, spotting, and missed periods. Up to 10% of pregnancies in women who take progestin-only pills are ectopic pregnancies. This is when the pregnancy develops outside the uterus, often in a fallopian tube.

Progestin-only pills are more effective at preventing pregnancy in the uterus (normal pregnancy) than in the fallopian tubes (ectopic pregnancy). This is why ectopic pregnancies are more common in women who use progestin-only pills than in women who use other types of progestin-only birth control, such as medroxyprogesterone acetate shots. 

This answer was adapted from Sharecare's award-winning AskMD app. Start a consultation now to find out what's causing your symptoms, learn how to manage a condition, or find a doctor.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.