Contraceptives – What Options Do You Have?

•Contributed Collaborative Post•

When it comes to birth control sadly there’s no one size fits all, and knowing which to choose can sometimes feel like navigating a minefield. In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the most popular forms of contraceptive but bear in mind that the best person to speak to when deciding which to choose is always going to be your doctor.


For those looking to prevent pregnancy without using hormones, condoms (both male and female), are the most widely available option. Male condoms are also the only form of contraceptive that protect against sexually transmitted diseases, such as chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis and herpes and it’s recommended to use condoms in conjunction with other contraceptive methods if you are at risk of HIV or STI’s. With perfect use, the male condom is 98% effective, and with typical use, this drops to 82%. The female condom, on the other hand, is less effective, in part due to its more complex insertion, coming in at 95% effective with perfect use and 79% effective with typical use.

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The contraceptive pill

The contraceptive pill is the most common form of female contraceptive and is a tablet comprising of hormones that are to be taken once a day. There are two types of the contraceptive pill, the combined pill and the progesterone-only pill and both make changes to your bodies hormone balance to stop you getting pregnant. When taken perfectly the pill is 99% effective, but it can be difficult to remember to take it at the same time each day and therefore with typical use this figure drops to 91%.

The contraceptive coil

There are two main types of the coil, the intrauterine device (IUD) and the intrauterine system (IUS) and both are 99% effective. Once in place, the IUD can last for 5-10 years and the IUS for between 3-5, making them perfect for those who want a fuss-free contraceptive. As with all contraceptives, peoples experiences with the coil can be different but for those that forget to take the pill and want a long-lasting but reversible contraceptive method then the contraceptive coil is one to consider.

The implant

Another popular long-lasting and reversible form of contraceptive is the implant, a match stick size device that is inserted under the skin on the arm to release hormones into the body. The implant can stay in place for up to 3 years but can also be removed easily at any time. At 99.95% effective the implant is one of the most effective forms of contraceptive available.

The injection

The contraceptive injection lasts for 12 weeks and is irreversible once administered, giving the user 3 months of protection. The injection must be administered by a health professional and so choosing this form of contraceptive will mean recurring visits to the doctors. When used perfectly the injection is 99% effective which drops to 94% with typical use, with most pregnancies coming about due to the individual forgetting to top up the injection after the 12 week period.

The morning after pill

The morning-after pill is a form of emergency contraception designed to stop you getting pregnant following unprotected sex and is effective for 3-5 days after insemination. Although a very handy option to bear in mind for mistakes or mishaps the morning after pill should not be used as a regular contraceptive. You can read about the side effects here.

The contraceptive patch

The patch works in the same way as the pill, by administering hormones into the body, but is absorbed through the skin rather than taken orally. The patch lasts for one week and should be moved around the body, after 3 patches, the user takes a break to allow them to menstruate, before continuing their prescription. With perfect use, the patch is 99% effective and with typical use, it is 94% effective.

The vaginal ring

The vaginal ring is a piece of plastic inserted into the vagina. This ring then releases hormones in the same way as the patch, pill and implant, stopping the wearer from getting pregnant. The ring can stay in place for 21 days and when removed will allow the wearer to have a period. It can then be replaced with a new ring to continue protection. When used perfectly the vaginal ring is 99% effective, and with typical use, this drops to 91% as the ring can sometimes be dislodged.

Natural family planning

You may have already seen adverts for natural family planning Apps such as Natural Cycles which work by trying to track your ovulation to determine whether you will or won’t get pregnant when having unprotected sex. The effectiveness of this type of contraceptive varies but can be much lower than other methods and so is really only recommended for those who are using additional contraceptives or are intending to start a family shortly anyway.

This is a collaborative contributed post 

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