Did you know there are fourteen different types of contraception? Yep. Fourteen.
It’s no good us all having equal rights and sexual liberation if we ignore the important stuff. Taking a little time to invest in our bodies and our safety should always be top priority. It’s not difficult to avoid STIs and unwanted babies, and we’re certainly not short of choices.
Today we’re going to go through all 14 choices that you have about the type of contraception that works for you. Then all you need to do is make an appointment with your GP or sexual health clinic to get your hands on it.
1. Male condoms
You know the drill. Take them out of the foil carefully so as not to rip or tear them (beware long nails and jewellery). Place on the end of your boy’s penis and gently roll it down as far as it will go. Then you can get busy. It’s an idea to have a couple of spares to hand incase the one you’re using snaps.
Male condoms are by far the easiest method of contraceptions to get hold of and use. If they’re available somewhere as casual as aisle 5 in ASDA, there’s no excuse not to have a stash.
2. Female condoms
About as effective as the male condom, but for you. This rubber lines the inside of the vagina to catch sperm.
To fit it, you need to squat and insert the condom with your finger as far as it’ll go. The rim of the condom entrance should sit just outside the entrance of your vagina – it might feel a bit loose, but it’s meant to. Guide his penis upon penetration to make sure the condom doesn’t roll up and miss the semen.
Female condoms are harder to get hold of than male condoms, and more expensive. Male condoms seem like a much simpler solution to me, but if you’re more comfortable with these, go for it. Your comfort is most important.
3. Combined pill
This pill combines the two hormones, oestrogen and progestogen. It’s 99% effective against pregnancy, though you need to take extra precautions to be protected against STIs.
You take one combined pill a day for 21 days at a time before coming off of it for seven days. You might bleed during this break.
There are a few different types of combined pill out there, so you’ll have a consultation with your doctor to see which one suits you best according to your medical history. If you have a history of breast cancer in your family, it’s likely your doctor will try you out on the mini pill instead.
NOTE: Taking antibiotics when you’re taking ANY hormonal contraceptive will render it useless. If you’re taking them to remedy an illness, make sure you’re using condoms until you’ve finished your course, and for a week afterwards.
4. Mini pill
This pill contains only progestogen. Progestogen stops the production of eggs, so this pill can often stop your periods/bleeding entirely. You don’t leave a week’s break with this one – take one a day constantly until you decide you’re not going to use this method of contraception any more.
Forgetting to take this pill and the combined pill for more than 24 hours leaves you unprotected from pregnancy, which is why it’s important to take your pill at the same time every day to avoid any time gaps. The mini pill will not protect you against STIs, just against pregnancy.
5. Contraceptive injection
The needle version of the mini pill. This injection will protect you against pregnancy ONLY for 12 weeks at a time, so you don’t need to worry about a daily pill but you need to make sure you know when you need your next injection. The ball ache with this one is that, obviously, a doctor or nurse needs to inject this for you every time.
6. Contraceptive patch
Like a nicotine patch for pregnancy. You wear this on your skin – just as on your arm – and replace it weekly. You wear the patch for three weeks, then leave a week break for a bleed. The patch uses the same hormones as the combined pill and is just as effective at preventing pregnancy.
Bear in mind that if you normally have periods more frequently than every 21 days, you might need to do some menstrual maths and make sure you’re using condoms at certain points as you won’t be protected the whole time.
7. Contraceptive implant
Works using the hormone progestogen only, just like the mini pill, but comes in the form of a tiny rod that a doctor inserts under the skin on your arm. It needs replacing every three years, and means you don’t need to remember a daily pill.
8. The coil
Proper name: Intrauterine device. This is a sperm-killing contraption is fitted by a doctor or nurse. It lasts for 5-10 years, but can be removed if you wish.
The fitting of the coil can be painful, periods can sometimes be heavier or longer, and it’s ever so slightly less effective than hormone-based methods like the pill (98-99%).
Proper name: Intrauterine system. A device that needs to be fitted, much like the coil, but with hormones. This makes it over 99% effective.
The procedure is the same as the coil, and needs replacing every five years.
10. Vaginal ring
Also called Nuvaring. This is a little plastic ring you can fit yourself that excretes the same hormones as the combined pill. It’s 99% effective, and requires changing every three weeks. It’s a less-mentioned form of contraception, but the vaginal ring can actually help reduce the risk of ovary and womb cancer.
11. Diaphragm with spermicide
I’m no medical professional, but in my opinion this is one of the stranger contraceptive solutions still used in the modern age.
A diaphragm is a silicone dome that you fit yourself before having sex. You must also use it with spermicide – a solution that ensures any sperm that get past the diaphragm are killed. For your first use, the diaphragm needs to be fitted by a medical professional as they’ll need to adjust it’s size. After that, it’s DIY.
What I don’t get is this; for all the ball ache of having to apply both the spermicide and the diaphragm, and remembering that you can’t wear it for more than three hours before sex (otherwise it stops working) but must keep it in for at least six hours after having sex, it’s only 92-96% effective. And it won’t protect you from STIs. If you can use them, I’d suggest condoms are far less risky and much more hassle-free.
12. Cap with spermicide
Exactly as the diaphragm with spermicide above. And the same level of effectiveness.
This is a permanent measure. Doctors perform surgery on the fallopian tubes so that the female cannot have children.
14. Natural family planning
This means you only have sex according to your least-fertile time of the month, which is dictated by your menstrual cycle. What is does not mean is having your partner withdraw before he cums – that is not a method of contraception
Natural family planning is taught by specialists at family planning clinics, so contact your local centre or GP for more information. Of course, this method won’t protect you from STIs, so you’ll need to use condoms anyway, which kind of begs the question; how useful is this method, really?
So there we have it. Fourteen ways you can keep yourself safe, and a ton of information about keeping it that way. And it’s all free on the NHS. All hail England.
This post was all research from the Brook Charity, who are the experts in sex and contraception. If you want more advice about them or your chosen method of contraception, give the Brook website a visit. Happy banging.
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