Whether you’re interested in family planning or simply want to practise safe sex, contraception advice can be very useful.
Of course, there are many different types of contraception and you need to decide which method is most suitable for you. A doctor will be able to talk you through your options and address any worries you might have.
Contraception can prevent pregnancies and guard against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). There are many forms of contraception that will stop you or your partner getting pregnant, both don’t offer any protection against STIs, so it’s important to check that you’re using a suitable method.
Commonly-used options include:
One of the best and most widely-used ways to protect you and your partner from STIs and unwanted pregnancies. They are available in both male and female varieties.
If your primary goal is to prevent unwanted pregnancy, the combined contraceptive pill has been shown to be over 99 per cent effective for women.
There are several different kinds of contraceptive pills, so even if you’ve tried one variety and experienced side effects, other types may be more suitable.
This is placed into the upper arm and lasts for three years.
Lasts between eight and 13 weeks.
This is stuck to the upper arm, allowing the body to absorb the necessary chemicals through the skin. Each patch lasts for one week.
Contraceptive cap or diaphragm
This is inserted into the vagina before sex and must not be removed until six hours afterwards. While it offers 92-96 per cent effectiveness against unwanted pregnancies, neither the cap nor diaphragm offer protection against STIs.
Works in a similar way to the cap and diaphragm and can be effective for five to 10 years.
Each of these methods has its advantages and its downsides (e.g. some require a lot of forward planning to prepare correctly). Some of them can also cause side effects, which you should make sure you fully understand before proceeding.
There are a number of reasons you might need emergency contraception. You might have forgotten to use contraception when you last had sex, or your usual method might have failed (e.g. if a condom split).
Emergency contraception can be effective up to 36 hours after sex, but is best taken within 12 hours. If you have concerns, it’s best to speak to a doctor as quickly as possible before proceeding.
If, for any reason, you decide you don’t wish to have any (or any more) children, there are methods of permanent contraception available, such as sterilisation. This is naturally a very big, life-changing decision and is certainly not an option you should take lightly.
Talking things through with a doctor can help you gain some perspective on just how important this decision is. If you decide to proceed, a doctor can also provide helpful advice as to your potential options.