Family Planning - Choosing The Right Contraception
There are many different types of contraception, ranging from hormonal to non-hormonal to even permanent options for family planning. With so many different types available, it may be overwhelming choosing the right type of contraception for your situation. In the following article, we will explain the most common forms of contraception and why they might be suitable for you.
Hormonal Contraceptive Options
The most popular option for woman using hormonal contraceptives is the combined pill, which is commonly just referred to as "the pill". The combined pill is taken orally and contains synthetic versions of two female hormones, oestrogen and progesterone which will prevent the ovaries from ovulating each month as well as making it hard for sperm to reach the egg. The pill can be around 99% effective when used correctly, which means taking it daily or as instructed. There is also a progestogen- only pill also known as “POP” or the mini pill, which is also as oral tablet that has to be taken at the same time every day. The main difference between these two types of pill, are that one contains oestrogen and the other doesn’t.
You could also opt for a long-acting reversible contraceptive (LARC) option regarding hormonal contraception and go for an intrauterine system (IUS). This form of contraception lasts either three or five years. The IUS is inserted into the uterus by a specially trained doctor/nurse and as a form of contraception can be more than 99% effective in preventing pregnancy.
Non-Hormonal Contraceptive Options
Male condoms are a form of contraception which is worn on the penis during intercourse to stop sperm from reaching the egg. Male condoms are widely available and can also be obtained for free from contraception clinics, sexual health clinics and some GP surgeries. Female condoms can also be used and these are worn inside the vagina to prevent sperm from reaching the womb.
Condoms in general are effective at preventing STI's so are also recommended even if you are using another form of contraception. When used correctly, condoms are 95-98% effective.
Natural family planning (fertility awareness) can also be used as a form of contraception. This contraception takes careful planning and teaches you what parts of your cycle you can have sex in to lower your risk of becoming pregnant. It can be up to 99% effective when done correctly and is widely accepted regardless of you culture or faith.
All three of the above non-hormonal contraceptives present no side effects.
Emergency Contraceptive Options
Levonelle has to be taken within 72 hours of having unprotected sex and ellaOne can be taken up to five days after unprotected sex. The sooner you take either Levonelle or ellaOne after unprotected sex has taken place, the more likely you are to be protected against pregnancy.
For more long term results, you may want to choose to have an intrauterine device (IUD) fitted to prevent pregnancy. An IUD is effective straight away and can be used long-term rather than the previous emergency contraceptive options which are only recommended as a one off.
It is recommended that you discuss your situation with a nurse or GP before choosing so that you can be sure you're using the right contraception for you.