Common

Contraception Methods

Contraception. There are a number of different methods to choose from, and there’s no one size fits all.

How do you choose a contraceptive method that’s right for you?

Scroll

For example, some people can’t use contraceptive methods containing oestrogen. This can be due to many different medical reasons, as well as being very overweight, a smoker aged over 35 and using certain medicines. If that’s you, you might consider progestogen-only methods
(like progestogen-only pills, the injection, or the IUS).

Speak to your pharmacist or GP who will be able to advise you on suitable contraceptive methods for you.

deborah evans

Pharmacist
Deborah Evans* says

People take contraception to avoid an unplanned pregnancy. Choosing a very effective method of birth control is incredibly important, and there are other factors to consider too, like side effects and whether the option is medically suitable for you.

Your choice may depend on whether you require regular
contraception, how convenient it is, and how it fits with
your lifestyle, effectiveness depends on proper use, so if
you find that you’re often forgetting to use condoms –
for example – it might be best to consider
a different method.

*Deborah Evans does not endorse any pharmaceutical brands or products.

Your contraception should suit your
Lifestyle

Some methods of contraception will have to be fitted by a doctor or a nurse, whereas others,
like Hana or condoms, can be purchased over the counter without needing a prescription.

Out of all the contraceptive methods available, it’s important to remember that
only barrier methods, such as condoms, will protect against sexually
transmitted infections (STIs). So if you’re not sure of your partner’s status, or
you’re sleeping with someone new, condoms are the safest bet. You should also
be getting an STI check-up regularly.

Let’s take a look at the different contraceptive methods there are, based on what might be
right for you

If the statement applies to you, read on for a method of
contraception that might suit you.

This article is to help educate you about the types of
contraception there are, it does not replace a
consultation with a healthcare professional.

I WANT TO PROTECT MYSELF AGAINST BOTH PREGNANCY AND STI

Condoms

I want to take charge of my contraception by choosing to take it every day

PoP, Combined Pill

I DON’T WANT TO REMEMBER TO TAKE SOMETHING EVERY DAY OR EVERY TIME I HAVE SEX

Injection

I WANT A METHOD OF CONTRACEPTION THAT LASTS FOR A FEW YEARS WITH NO TOP-UPS

Implant, IUD, IUS

I DON’T WANT TO USE hormonal contraception

Natural Method

I WANT TO PROTECT MYSELF AGAINST BOTH PREGNANCY AND STI

Condoms
Learn More

I want to take charge of my contraception by choosing to take it every day

PoP, Combined Pill
Learn More

I DON’T WANT TO REMEMBER TO TAKE SOMETHING EVERY DAY OR EVERY TIME I HAVE SEX

Injection
Learn More

I WANT A METHOD OF CONTRACEPTION THAT LASTS FOR A FEW YEARS WITH NO TOP-UPS

Implant, IUD, IUS
Learn More

I DON’T WANT TO USE hormonal contraception

Natural Method
Learn More

Contraception methods
At a glance

Combined pill

Combined pill

What is it

The combined pill is a tablet containing the hormones progestogen and oestrogen. It is generally taken for 21 days. You then take a break for 7 days before starting your pill again.

Where do I get it

You can get a prescription for the combined pill from a doctor or from the sexual health clinic.

How do I take it

The combined pill should be taken at the same time every day, apart from on the 7-day break.

If you forget it you have a 12-hour window in which to remember to take it.

PoP

PoP

What is it

The progestogen only pill is a tablet containing the hormone progestogen that must be taken at the same time every day, without a break.

Where do I get it

Progestogen-only pills containing desogestrel such as Hana can be purchased over the counter at a pharmacy without a prescription following a consultation with the pharmacist.

You can also get PoPs on prescription from a GP or from the sexual health clinic.

How do I take it

Progestogen only pills should be taken at the same time every day.

If you forget to take it, you have a 3 hour window or a 12 hour window (Depending on the pill) in which to remember before the pill becomes less effective.

Condom

Condom

What is it

A barrier method of contraception that prevents sperm from reaching the vagina.

Thin latex (rubber), polyisoprene or polyurethane (non-latex) placed on the erect penis. You can also get female condoms which are soft, thin synthetic latex or latex, inserted inside the vagina before sex.

Where do I get it

Most supermarkets or convenience stores. Any pharmacy, GP surgery or sexual health clinic.

How do I take it

Condoms are worn on the penis during sexual intercourse.

Internal condoms (a.k.a femidoms) are worn inside the vagina. Both are worn during sex.

The contraceptive injection

The contraceptive injection

What is it

The injection is administered by a healthcare professional to prevent pregnancy for 8-13 weeks. It contains progestogen.

Where do I get it

A doctor or a nurse can give you the injection at a GP surgery or through a sexual health clinic.

How do I take it

You can get the injection at a doctor’s surgery or sexual health clinic and will need to get another one every time it runs out.

The implant

The implant

What is it

The implant is a small rod that goes under the skin in your arm and releases progestogen into your bloodstream.

Where do I get it

A doctor or a nurse can do this at a GP surgery or through a sexual health clinic.

How do I take it

You can get the implant fitted at a doctor’s surgery or sexual health clinic.

The IUD

The IUD

What is it

The IUD is a T-shaped device that is inserted into the womb. It releases copper into the womb which is toxic to sperm and means implantation can not take place.

The IUD can also be used as emergency contraception, if inserted up to 5 days after unprotected sex.

Where do I get it

A doctor or a nurse can do this at a GP surgery or through a sexual health clinic.

How do I take it

You can get the IUD fitted at a doctor’s surgery or sexual health clinic. Once it’s fitted you don’t need to do anything until you need to get a new one.

The IUS

The IUS

What is it

The intrauterine system is a small T shaped device that releases progestogen into your womb.

Where do I get it

A doctor or a nurse can do this at a GP surgery or through a sexual health clinic.

How do I take it

You can get the IUS fitted at a doctor’s surgery or sexual health clinic. Once it’s fitted you don’t need to do anything – until it’s time to get a new one.

Natural Method

Natural Method

What is it

Tracking your menstrual cycle and avoiding sex, or using condoms, when you’re most fertile.

Where do I get it

No need to get it, but some people choose to use apps and thermometers to help tracking.

How do I take it

No need to take any medicine, but you need to track your cycle which involves checking your temperature and cervical mucus every day.

I want to take charge of my contraception by

choosing to take it every day

The Pill

The contraceptive pill is a tablet you take orally that contains synthetic versions of hormones that help to prevent pregnancy. Did you know that there are two different types of pill? The combined pill and the progestogen-only pill (also known as PoP or the mini pill). Both types of pill are suited to different women as they work differently and have different side effects.

The Progestogen-Only Pill (PoP)

Progestogen-only pills contain a synthetic version of the hormone progesterone and can help prevent pregnancy by altering your cervical mucus to make it harder for sperm to travel to meet an egg. Some progestogen-only pills that contain desogestrel – like Hana – mainly work by preventing ovulation, meaning that there is no egg for sperm to fertilise. Like all contraceptive pills, the progestogen-only pill should be taken at the same time every day for it to be most effective.

Traditionally you needed a prescription from your doctor to get the Progestogen-Only Pill, but as of 2021 that’s all changed. Did you know that you don’t even have to wait for a doctor’s appointment to get Hana?

You can buy it over the counter at a pharmacy after answering some questions for the pharmacist to check that it is suitable for you. Hana is over 99% effective when used correctly.

The Combined Pill

The combined pill contains synthetic versions of the hormones progesterone and oestrogen. It also works by preventing ovulation. The combined pill is generally taken every day for 21 days of your cycle, then you have a break for 7 days during which you might experience a withdrawal bleed. The combined pill is available with a prescription. It should also be taken at the same time every day.

Some people can’t use medicines containing oestrogen for medical reasons. The combined pill is not suitable for some people, including those who are breastfeeding, are very overweight or smoke and are aged 35 or over.

I WANT TO PROTECT MYSELF AGAINST BOTH PREGNANCY AND STIS

Condoms

Condoms are the only type of contraception that can protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) as well as pregnancy. You can get male/external condoms to be worn on the penis, or internal condoms – also known as femidoms – that line the vagina.

When used correctly, male condoms are 98% effective, however, they can sometimes split during intercourse, or be forgotten altogether in the heat of the moment. Condoms can also become ineffective if they’re worn incorrectly, or if you use an oil-based lube with a latex condom. If this happens, you can take an extra precaution against pregnancy by using emergency contraception (such as ellaOne, the most effective morning after pill**, or the IUD).

I DON’T WANT TO REMEMBER TO TAKE SOMETHING EVERY DAY OR EVERY TIME I HAVE SEX

The Injection

The contraceptive injection works by releasing the hormone progestogen into your bloodstream to prevent pregnancy. Depending on the type of injection, they can be effective for 8-13 weeks. The injection is more than 99% effective when used correctly, and it doesn’t rely on you having to remember anything – other than getting your repeat injection as instructed. The injection must be given to you by a doctor or a nurse.

I WANT A METHOD OF CONTRACEPTION THAT LASTS FOR A FEW YEARS WITH NO TOP-UPS

Long acting reversible contraceptives

This group of contraceptive methods are known as long acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs). They will have to be fitted, and eventually removed, by a doctor or nurse as they all involve putting a device into your body. Some people enjoy the freedom of not having to remember anything for a few years, but others might feel squeamish about the procedure.

The Implant

The contraceptive implant is a small plastic rod that can be inserted into your arm by a healthcare professional. It releases progestogen into your bloodstream to prevent ovulation, which then prevents pregnancy, and once it is inserted it can be effective for up to 3 years, but if it doesn’t suit you, it can be removed sooner. The implant is more than 99% effective.

The Intrauterine Device

The Intrauterine Device (IUD) is a small T-shaped copper device that is inserted into the womb by a healthcare professional. It works by releasing copper into the womb which makes it difficult for sperm to survive and reach an egg. The IUD – also known as the copper coil – is more than 99% effective. Once the IUD is in, it can be effective for 5-10 years, depending on the type.

Did you know that you can also use the IUD as emergency contraception? When inserted within 5 days of unprotected sex, the IUD can help prevent pregnancy.

The Intrauterine System

The Intrauterine System (IUS) is similar to the IUD in that it is also inserted into the womb, but it works in a different way. The IUS is a plastic T-shaped device that is fitted by a doctor or a nurse. It releases progestogen which thickens cervical mucus to stop sperm reaching the cervix and also thins the lining of the womb so no egg can implant. It can last from 3-5 years depending on the type. It can make your periods lighter or stop altogether.

I DON’T WANT TO USE HORMONAL CONTRACEPTION

The Natural Method

The natural family planning method is also known as fertility tracking or the calendar method. You track your menstrual cycle, including your temperature and the consistency of your cervical mucus, and only have sex on the days that you are least likely to conceive, or use a condom in addition to tracking fertility.

Deborah says: “if you don’t want to get pregnant, the natural method is not the most effective method of contraception. Tracking your cycle can be really difficult and unreliable, and even more so if you have an irregular cycle.”

Because sperm can survive in the female reproductive tract for up to 5 days after unprotected sex, any instance of unprotected sex could result in a pregnancy – no matter what point of your cycle you’re at.

So, when it comes to contraception
You have loads of choices

This is not an exhaustive list – there are even more methods of
contraception in addition to those listed here too like the cap, the
contraceptive patch and the option of sterilisation. If none of the
methods above suit you, why not talk to your GP or visit a sexual
health clinic to discuss what options might be suitable for you?

When your contraception is taken care of, you can feel confident in
getting on with whatever you want, with one less thing to worry about.

Most importantly, you should choose your contraception based on what
will work best for you and your lifestyle.

Don’t forget: if you experience a contraceptive failure – or forget to use
any at all – then you could use the emergency contraceptive pill or the
IUD to reduce the risk of an unplanned pregnancy.

*Deborah Evans does not endorse any
pharmaceutical brands or products.