Using contraception correctly means that people can have sex without worrying about pregnancy. Certain types of contraception can also prevent against STI’s.
Types of Contraception
Contraceptive pills are the most common method of contraception in the UK. There are two different types of contraceptive pills – the mini pill (progestogen only) and the combined pill (progestogen and oestrogen). Both types are more than 99% effective when they are taken correctly. They work by preventing sperm from reaching the egg and being able to fertilise it. The best contraceptive pill to take can vary from person to person. To find out which is the best contraceptive pill for you, speak to your local GP. If you suffer from heavy periods, the best contraceptive pill for you to take may be the combined pill, as studies show it’s possible that the combined hormones can make periods lighter and reduce period pains. Certain brands can also help with acne. If you cannot take oestrogen, the mini pill is the best contraceptive pill. If you are looking to start taking contraceptive pills, you will need a prescription which you can obtain from your doctor or local sexual health clinic. Some pills, such as Hana (75mcg) are available over the counter. Contraceptive pills don’t affect your sex drive or cause any long-term fertility issues. There isn’t any evidence to suggest that contraceptive pills cause weight gain.
Condoms are the second most common popular contraceptive method in the UK. They are made from a thin layer of latex and cover the penis to create a barrier which stops fluids being transferred between partners. Condoms are a form of male contraceptive and are the only method which protects against both STI’s and pregnancy. Condoms are easily available and can be used in addition to different types of contraception, such as the pill, contraceptive patch, contraceptive injection or contraceptive implant for extra protection. Some people can be allergic to latex, but non-latex condoms are widely available. Worldwide, only 7.7% of people employ condoms as their choice of contraception.
The contraceptive implant is a small plastic rod which is placed in the upper arm, under the skin. The contraceptive implant works by releasing progestogen into the body which prevents pregnancy. The contraceptive implant is 99% effective and lasts for three years. The contraceptive implant can cause or worsen acne, and side effects include nausea, headaches and mood swings.
Sterilisation is a permanent method of contraception. According to research, the most popular method of contraception in the world is female sterilisation, accounting for 19.2% of contraception choice globally. Female sterilisation is completed by cutting, blocking or sealing the fallopian tubes which carry eggs from the ovary to the womb. For males, sterilisation is performed by sealing or tying the tube which carries sperm from the testicles to the penis.
The coil is used by 13.7% of women globally, making it the second most common method worldwide. The coil, also known as an IUD (intrauterine device), is a small, T-shaped copper and plastic device which is placed in the womb through the vagina by a specially trained nurse. It works because copper is toxic to sperm. The coil contraception doesn’t contain any hormones and can prevent pregnancy for five to ten years, depending on which type of coil contraception is used. It protects from pregnancy immediately and is not affected by vomiting or diarrhoea like some other types of contraception, like the pill. There is a small risk of the coil becoming displaced or it being pushed out. In some cases, IUD’s can make periods heavier or more painful.
The contraceptive injection contains progestogen and is injected into the lower back. It protects against pregnancy for three months, after which you require another injection. The contraceptive injection is over 99% affective and can be used by people who are not able to use methods which contain oestrogen. However, the contraceptive injection can cause weight gain and can reduce bone density, resulting in thinning of the bones.
A contraceptive patch is a small patch applied to the skin like a plaster. It releases oestrogen and progestogen into the body through the skin in order to prevent pregnancy. The patch is worn for seven days, after which it is changed. The patch should be worn for three weeks, after which you will have a seven day break in which most women bleed. The contraceptive patch can be worn on the upper arm, shoulder or buttock but shouldn’t be placed on broken skin.
Diaphragm contraceptive is a silicone dome which is inserted into the vagina before sex. Diaphragm contraceptive needs to be used with a gel which kills sperm (spermicide) and does not prevent against STI’s. Diaphragm contraceptive must be left in the vagina for at least 6 hours after you’ve had sex.
Vasectomies and condoms are the only forms of male contraceptive which are available. In Canada, male sterilisation is the most popular form of contraception. In the UK, waiting lists are often long. Vasectomies are the only option which offer men the ability to take responsibility for their method of contraception. There are ongoing studies being carried out which look into the possibility of different types of male contraceptive, such as a pill for men.