There are so many more contraception methods than just the pill and regular condoms, let us help you wise up
Everyone’s body is different so what works for someone else may not work for you. Thankfully there’s plenty of contraception options to choose from to help prevent pregnancy. (If that’s what you want.)
Here’s your guide to just some of the choices out there.
1. Female Condom
Yes, you heard right. Meet the femidon. It works in the same way as male condoms by stopping sperm entering the vagina, but fits inside the vagina rather than on the penis. It’s made of polyurethane, which means you can use any lube (unlike condoms), such as body oils, creams, or lotions.
This is used INSTEAD of a male condom. Don’t use both. Pros include: 95% effectiveness when used properly and protection from STIs.
2. Contraceptive Injection
The injection contains the hormone progestogen, which stops the release of an egg each month so you don’t become pregnant. It lasts 8-13 weeks, so be sure you want it as you can’t reverse it. It’s super handy for those who forget to take the pill daily.
Good news: it’s 99% effective. Bad news: common side effects include weight gain, headaches, irregular bleeding, mood swings, tender breasts and irregular bleeding.
3. Contraceptive Implant
This is a small flexible rod that’s inserted under your skin in the upper arm, which releases progestogen. It’s over 99% effective and lasts for 3 years. In the first few months you may notice headaches, breast tenderness, nausea, or mood swings. Don’t worry, if you change your mind you can get it removed by your GP.
4. Fertility Awareness
Also known as natural family planning. Probably the most complex method. You have to monitor your fertility signs. This means checking your temperature, cervical mucus, and length of menstrual cycle every day to figure out your fertile time.
You must not have sex without protection when you are fertile. And this does NOT mean the withdrawal method.
The massive benefit is there are absolutely no hormones. When done properly it’s up to 99% effective. But if you want to give this a shot you must be trained by a fertility teacher. Your GP or sexual health clinic can provide more information.
5. Intrauterine Device (IUD)
A.K.A. “the coil”. This is the only long acting reversible contraception (LARC) that doesn’t contain hormones. Ideal for those who experience hormonal side effects from other contraception. It lasts 5-10 years and is more than 99% effective.
You may experience pain when it’s inserted and many women get stomach cramps for a few days after insertion.
6. Vaginal Ring
A soft, plastic ring that you place in your vagina. It produces oestrogen and progesterone to stop pregnancy and is over 99% effective. You wear it for 21 days, then take a 7-day break. Repeat. You’re protected during the 7-day break if you used it correctly. During the break you may bleed. This isn’t a proper period; it’s caused by changes in hormone levels.
7. Combined Pill
Often called “the pill”. This produces oestrogen and progesterone to prevent pregnancy and is over 99% effective. You take one pill around the same time every day for 21 days, then stop for 7 days. During this week you may bleed, but it’s not a proper period.
Start taking the pill again after the 7-day break. “The pill” can help with heavy or painful periods, but may also cause breast tenderness, mood swings, nausea or headaches.
If you forget to take the pill, you may want to use a condom during sex for the next week.
This is similar to the combined pill, but only releases progesterone. It’s super important that you take the pill at the same time every single day. There are no breaks between packets of pills.
If you vomit or have severe diarrhea, the pill many not work. Common side effects include spots and tender breasts. But it’s over 99% effective.
If you still are unsure about your options check out this handy contraception tool, which asks you questions to help you make the right choice. You can even discuss these contraception methods with your GP or visit your local sexual health clinic.
Remember that most of these contraception methods don’t protect you from STIs, so be sure to wear those female or male condoms.
Finally, it may take a while for you to figure out what contraception works best for you. And that’s okay. Take your time and do what feels right for you.