About 8/10 sexually active women would become pregnant over the course of a year if they didn’t use any contraception or preventive measures. So, if you don’t want to have a baby, it’s important to take precautions. There are many different types of contraception available ranging from emergency, hormonal and barrier methods to long-acting or permanent contraception.
What are the contraceptive methods available?
There are different methods of contraception, including:
Long-acting reversible contraception, such as an implant, or an intra uterine device
Hormonal contraception such as contraceptive pills – injection and vaginal rings
Permanent contraception (vasectomy or tubal ligation)
Barriers methods, such as condoms and diaphragms
Long-lasting reversible contraception
They are “fit and forget” contraception. These types of contraception last longer so are more effective at preventing pregnancy because you don’t have to worry about forgetting pills or a condom breaking or coming off. Long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) is a contraceptive that lasts for a long time. You don’t need to remember it every day or even every month. There are two types:
An intrauterine device (IUD) that lasts five or more years
An implant under the skin that lasts either three or five years
Hormonal contraception works very well at preventing pregnancy. Hormonal contraceptives include the combined oral contraceptive pill and the progestogen-only pill (also known as the ‘mini-pill’). Other hormonal methods include contraceptive patches, injections, implants, the vaginal ring and the intrauterine system (IUS). It’s important to remember that they don’t protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) though. Non hormonal methods of contraception include condoms, diaphragms and the intrauterine device (IUD).
Barrier methods stop sperm from entering the vagina. The most common methods are:
Condom to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmissible infections (STIs)
Diaphragm inserted into the vagina before intercourse
Fertility awareness is recognising the signs of fertility in a woman’s menstrual cycle. It can be used to understand your own menstrual cycle, plan a pregnancy or avoid a pregnancy.
There are two options for emergency contraception – the emergency contraceptive pill (ECP) or a copper IUD. Emergency contraception can be used to prevent pregnancy after you have had sexual intercourse when:
you haven’t used any protection
your normal contraception fails e.g. condom splits
you have missed more than one contraceptive pill
you have been vomiting or had diarrhoea while on the pill
you have been forced to have sex without contraception
you have missed your injection
The procedure for men is called vasectomy and for women it is tubal ligation. Permanent contraception is sterilisation that permanently prevents pregnancy.