What Contraception Is Right For Me?
With so many different forms of contraception out there, it can be tricky to know what’s right for you, or even where to begin. We’ve put together a brief overview of the most common forms of contraception to give you a better understanding of each and how they work in order for you to make an informed decision on what route you feel is best to take.
Progestogen-only pill (POP)
The POP pill is to be taken at roughly the same time every single day, with no break between packets. It contains the progestogen hormone which thickens the mucus in the cervix in order to prevent sperm reaching an egg, and, depending on which POP pill is being taken, can also prevent ovulation. This pill however doesn’t contain oestrogen, which is great for those who suffer with high blood pressure, are overweight or have previously had blood clots, and can only be taken specifically by women aged 35 years and over who smoke. Women who take this pill will find that their periods may become irregular, become lighter, or stop altogether.
Commonly known as ‘the pill’, the combined pill contains artificial versions of both progestogen and oestrogen and can be taken both to prevent pregnancy and to help treat painful periods, particularly heavy periods, PMS and endometriosis. Whilst making it difficult for the sperm to reach an egg, the pill also prevents ovulation, further reducing the risk of pregnancy. The pill is to be taken at roughly the same time every day for 21 days, with a seven-day break before beginning the next pack.
Containing progestogen, the contraceptive injection thickens the mucus within the cervix which prevents the sperm from reaching an egg, whilst also thinning the womb lining and, depending on the injection, can prevent ovulation.
There are three types of contraceptive injections:
- Noristerat… this lasts for 8 weeks
- Depo-Provera… this lasts for 12 weeks
- Sayana Press… this lasts for 13 weeks
The Depo-Provera is the most popular of the injections, whilst the Noristerat is only ever used for short periods of time.
Lasting for up to three years at a time, the contraceptive implant is a 4cm long flexible tube that gets inserted under the skin of your upper arm. This tube releases progestogen into the body which prevents ovulation, makes it difficult for sperm to move through the cervix due to the thickened cervical mucus and reduces the chances of the womb accepting a fertilised egg.
Intrauterine Device (IUD)
Commonly known as ‘the coil’, the IUD is a small plastic and copper t-shaped device that’s inserted into the womb, designed to last for five years at a time. The coil prevents both the sperm and the egg from surviving in both the fallopian tubes and the womb, and can be used by all types of women regardless of whether or not they’ve already had children. Once it’s been inserted, the user doesn’t need to worry about taking a contraceptive either daily or during sex.
Contraceptive patch (renewed each week for three weeks out of the month)
Similar to nicotine patches, the contraceptive patch is a is a sticky patch, roughly 5cm x 5xm, that the user sticks to a patch of skin, typically the upper arm, which delivers hormones into the body. The patch contains the same hormones at the combined pill, working in the same way by thickening the cervical mucus and thinning the lining of the womb.
Diaphragms and caps
Diaphragms and caps come in different sizes, with the user being required to visit a qualified doctor or nurse in order to be fitted with the diaphragm of the correct size. They’re to be covered in spermicide and inserted into the vagina before sex, covering the cervix, killing the sperm and preventing any rogue sperm from breaching the womb. Users must keep the diaphragm or cap in place for a minimum of six hours after sex, when they can they wash it and keep it safe for re-use.
Female condoms (Femidoms)
Unlike regular condoms which are placed on the outside of the penis, female condoms are inserted into the vagina in order to prevent semen from getting into the womb. They protect against both pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections when used correctly. Condoms are the only form of contraception that are known to protect against STIs.
Whilst all of the above types of contraception are to be managed by women, regular condoms can be managed by both men and women. Typically made of latex, although there are non-latex versions for those with allergies, the condom is placed over the penis, trapping the semen and preventing it from coming into contact with the sexual partner. The same as female condoms, condoms protect against both pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections when used correctly. Condoms are the only form of contraception that are known to protect against STIs.
It is worth nothing that this is not a complete list, and all of the above mention forms of contraception’s are temporary, there are permanent forms of contraception available, such as sterilisations and vasectomies. When considering which contraceptive is best for you, it’s always advised that you do your own research into the varieties available and consult a doctor or nurse before making a decision. No decision is final though and you can change your mind at any time.
Found in Sexual Health