Your choice of contraception is a big deal. When you’re comfortable and confident with your contraception, you can feel empowered to go about your day secure in the knowledge that you are helping to protect yourself from unplanned pregnancy until you choose to have children – if you choose to have children.
It’s so important that you get on with your contraception and feel comfortable with what you’re putting in your body. There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to contraception, so if for whatever reason, you’re not happy with what you’re using, you have every right to talk to your pharmacist or doctor about alternative methods.
Many people try a few different options before settling on something that works for them. We spoke to Katie, a 26-year-old journalist from London, about her contraceptive journey.
The combined pill
“The first contraceptive option I tried was the combined pill,” says Katie. “I started taking it when I was 18. I knew nothing about it really, aside from the fact that you had to take it every day at the same time. I personally didn’t get on with it well – I felt really down and tearful when I was on it so – after almost a year – I came off it.”
Like all medication, some people may experience side effects from their contraceptive pill. Some side effects tend to settle within a few months, but you should also check the information leaflet which comes with your pack and follow its advice regarding side effects. If you have any concerns, you should speak to a healthcare professional – like a doctor or pharmacist – for advice.
Everyone is different and their experience of contraception may also be different, so just because a certain pill worked for your best friend, your big sister or someone on Twitter doesn’t mean it’ll necessarily work for you. Listen to your body and know that you have options.
“I was off contraception for over a year and noticed a big improvement in my mood. But I decided to go back on the pill after some accidents with condoms,” says Katie.
Condoms can be a very effective method of contraception. Male condoms are 98% effective with perfect use (when they are always used correctly) and can also protect you against sexually transmitted infections, so they’re a good choice if you’re sleeping with someone new and/or you don’t know your partner’s status.
No method of contraception is 100% effective: condoms need to be used correctly – and even then, some may break. Find out more about why condoms break here.
Long-Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC)
“I tried a copper coil – as there would be no hormones involved so I thought that would be good, as it wouldn’t affect my mood,” says Katie. “I wasn’t prepared for how painful it was but also the coil wasn’t fitted properly so I was effectively having unprotected sex for three months. After that was revealed by an ultrasound, I had the coil taken out and went back on the combined pill.”
The copper coil, also known as an IUD, is a long-acting reversible method of contraception and can protect you against unplanned pregnancy for 5-10 years. It is very effective (over 99%) and can also be used as an emergency contraceptive if fitted within five days after unprotected sex.
People have different experiences with contraception. Some people absolutely love the IUD, whilst others may find that it’s not for them.
The progestogen-only pill
“I was on the combined pill for 3 years, but then I had a migraine with aura so three months ago I changed to a progestogen-only pill (aka a POP),” says Katie. “On the whole, I’m enjoying it – I find it easier having the pill every day. I get my pill from the pharmacist. It is a bonus to have one I can stop at any time – but having to remember to take it every day is a definite downside. I feel that I now know a lot more about contraception. I’ve done my research and googled a lot, plus I ask more questions.”
It’s important to take the progestogen-only pill every day without a break between packs for it to be effective. If you’re having trouble remembering to take your pill, this article might help.
Did you know that you can now buy some progestogen-only pills, such as Hana®, over the counter without a doctor’s appointment? Pharmacists are qualified to do a consultation with you to check whether the progestogen-only pill is suitable. You can buy a progestogen-only pill from your local pharmacy, via hanadirect.co.uk, or you can still access it from your doctor.
How many contraceptive options have you gone through before settling on your chosen method? Let us know @hanapilluk.