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Contraception

Contraceptives work by stopping a man’s sperm from fertilising a woman’s egg, and this can be done in several different ways.

There are two main types of contraception: barrier methods and hormonal methods.

Barrier methods physically prevent sperm from swimming into the uterus and fertilising the woman’s egg e.g. a condom. Hormonal methods, on the other hand, change a woman’s hormonal cycle to prevent fertilisation. These are the main types of contraception that are generally used by teenagers. Other types of contraception include the intrauterine device (IUD) or intrauterine system (IUS).

Contraception is about preventing pregnancy, but don't forget to protect yourself from sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Always use a condom.

 In this section you can find out about:

  • All the different types of contraception
  • Information about condoms
  • Emergency contraception

Related Questions

  • Age: 15
    Gender: Female

    Question:

    My friends have all had sex what's wrong with me?

    Answer:

    Nothing is wrong you, not everyone has sex at the same time. The most important things about having sex is to be ready and not be pressured, do it with someone you trust and talk to someone about safer sex and contraception first. If you would like to discuss this please come and talk to the team at CHYPS Plus.

  • Age: 18
    Gender: Male

    Question:

    How does the herpes thing work? Is a cold sore herpes?

    Answer:

    Genital Herpes is caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV). There are two types of HSV 1 & HSV 2; both can affect the genitals and also the mouth and nose (cold sores) and fingers (witlow).
    The virus enters the body through small cracks in the skin or through the soft lining of skin found in the mouth, vagina, anus, urethra and under the foreskin. After infection some people will experience sores. Some people get symptoms within 4-5 days after infection but some people can carry the virus without any symptoms for months or years.
    Symptoms can include ;
    •    Stinging, tingling or itching on the genital area (penis, anus or vagina)
    •    Fluid filled blister that burst leaving painful sores
    •    Pain when peeing as the urine touches the sores
    If you have any questions please feel free to call us on 02076834070 or attend clinic

    Regards
    CHYPS Plus

  • Age: 15
    Gender: Female

    Question:

    This week I've been feeling dizzy and I always feel like vomiting... I am not pregnant because I am only 15.  And I also have a red thing on my breast; should I make an appointment or is normal things? Whenever I eat I feel really full then I feel like vomiting. Is it normal? Thanks x

    Answer:

    Felling sick is your body's way of telling something isn't right and you should make an appointment to see your GP or attend CHYPS Plus.

    Age has no bearing on pregnancy so you should always practice safer sex to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, you can attend CHYPS plus and receive contraception, please have a look at the contraception page on the CHYPS Plus website; http://www.chypsplus.nhs.uk/zone-5-lets-talk-about-sex/contraception

    in relation to your breast we are unable to provide diagnosis via email, anytime you notice changes to your skin colour and shape etc. you should see a medical professional.

  • How to use a Condom?

  • Responsible Romance

There are alot of different contrceptives out there, we will show you how they stack up against one another.

  • Male Condom

    Latex (thin rubber) sheet that wraps over the penis

    Yes

    It prevents STDs No major risks You only have to use it when you are having sex

    You have to interrupt sex Condoms can slip off and burst You need a new one every time you have sex

    Prevents cum (sperm, semen) entering the vagina

    See wrap it up [link]

    Anyone who has a penis Some people are sensitive to latex. Other materials are available

    98% effective If a 100 couples used it for a year, 2 women will get pregnant

    You can get pregnant/ get an STD

    No Don’t use oil based lubricants with latex condoms

    Nil

  • Combined Pill

    Tablet containing 2 hormones Progesterone and Oestrogen

    No

    It doesn’t interrupt sex It can reduce the symptoms of PMT [link] It might help some women who get spots

    You can get headaches, mood swings, feel a bit sick, get breast tenderness In the first few months, you can get a bit of spotting when it is not your period

    Prevents eggs being released (ovulation) Makes mucus around cervix thick so sperm finds it difficult to get in Makes the lining of the womb thin so if the egg comes along, difficult for it to bed in.

    Start the first pack on the first day of your period Take a tablet every day for 21 days Have a break for 7 days Start the next pack after the 7 day break If you don’t start the first pack on the first day of your period, you need to use extra protection for 7 days.

    You cannot use it if you are pregnant You cannot use it if you are breast feeding. Some people with migraines cannot use it If you are very overweight or continue smoking after you are 35 you cannot use it. If you have any medical problems/ take any medications you need to discuss with the doctor whether you can use it.

    99% effective If a 100 women took it for a year, one will get pregnant

    Missing Pills can mean that you are not protected and might get pregnant. As soon as you remember, take the last pill that you missed and contact us [link to phone number] or look at http://www.fpa.org.uk

    Some medicines can interact with the pill like antibiotics, anti HIV and antiepileptic medication. We need to work out what to do together if you are taking any other medication. Talk to us at the house [link] if you are unsure or talk to your doctor.

    It can increase your blood pressure Very rarely you can get blood clots. It can increase your risk of cancer

  • Mini Pill

    Tablets containing 1 hormone: Progesterone

    No

    It doesn’t interrupt sex It can reduce the symptoms of PMT [link]

    You can get spotty skin, breast tenderness, gain weight, headaches Your periods might change so it can get heavier / lighter

    Makes mucus around cervix thick so sperm find it difficult to get in Makes the lining of the womb thin so if the egg comes along, difficult for it to bed in Can prevent egg being released

    Start the pack on the first day of your period. Take the tablet at the same time every day. If you are even 3 hours late for taking your pill, it will count as a missed pill Do not have a break. Start the next pack as soon as you finish the last If you don’t start the first pack on the first day of your period, you need to use extra protection for 2 days.

    You cannot use it if you are pregnant You can use it if you are breast feeding Some people with migraines cannot use it If you have any medical problems/ take any medications you need to discuss with the doctor whether you can use it.

    99% effective If a 100 women took it for a year, one will get pregnant

    Missing Pills can mean that you are not protected and might get pregnant. If you are even 3 hours late with the mini pill, it is a missed pill. As soon as you remember, take the last pill that you missed and contact us [link to phone number] or look at http://www.fpa.org.uk

    Some medicines can make it less effective. Tell us about any medications you are on when we give you the pill. Most common Antibiotics do not affect the Mini Pill

    You can get cysts on your ovary If you do get pregnant, there is a risk that the pregnancy will not develop in the womb. This can be dangerous

  • Female Condom

    Soft Polyurethane sheath that lines the inside of the vagina and just on the outside.

    Yes

    It prevents STDs No major risks You only have to use it when you are having sex

    You have to interrupt sex Condoms can slip off and be pushed out of place Expensive and not always available free You need a new one every time you have sex

    Prevents cum (sperm, semen) entering the vagina

    See how to put on female condom.[link]

    Anyone who has a vagina

    95% effective If a 100 women used it for a year, 5 will get pregnant

    You can get pregnant/ get an STD

    No

    Nil

  • Diaphragm/Cap

    A flexible latex (soft rubber) or silicone cap that covers the cervix.

    They may protect against some but not others.

    You can put it in when you feel like it No major risks You only have to use it when you are having sex

    You may have to interrupt sex Cystitis [link] can be a problem

    Prevents cum (sperm, semen) entering the womb

    You need to come into the clinic so we can fit the correct size for you. You have to put spermicide on the cap or diaphragm or cap and then squeeze it into your vagina to cover the cervix. You need to leave it in for at least 6 hours after you have sex If you have sex more than once, you need extra spermicide

    Anyone who has a vagina Some people are sensitive to latex. Some people’s vaginal muscles will not hold the diaphragm

    92-96% effective . If a 100 women used it for a year, 4-8 will get pregnant

    You can get pregnant/ get an STD

    No

    Nil

  • Family Planning

    Looking at several things like your menstrual cycle, your temperature, your mucus, to find out if you might be fertile [link]

    No

    contraception? No major health risks

    Need to avoid sex when you are fertile Takes about 3-6 months to learn well Need to keep a daily record Becomes difficult if you are ill or stressed as your fertility can change

    You work out when you are fertile and avoid having sex at that time

    If you want to find out about this, come in and talk to us. It takes a bit of explaining but we are happy to do it.

    If you can follow instructions and be quite strict about when you have sex, yes.

    98% effective If 100 women used this for a year, 2 of them would get pregnant

    You can get pregnant

    No

    Nil

  • Injection

    An injection that releases progesterone into your body slowly

    No

    Lasts for 8-12 weeks It doesn’t interrupt sex It may reduce PMT symptoms

    Periods might stop or become irregular Some women gain weight You might get spotty skin/ mood changes/ breast tenderness/ headaches Your periods can take a long time to come back after you have stopped using it so your fertility might take a while to come back too. It can take up to a year Once the injection is in your body, you cannot remove it so if you have bad effects, you have to put up with them for as long as the injection lasts

    Prevents eggs being released (ovulation) Makes mucus around cervix thick so sperm finds it difficult to get in Makes the lining of the womb thin so if the egg comes along, difficult for it to bed in.

    The hormone is injected into a muscle, usually in your bottom. You have to have another injection usually every 12 weeks If you start the injection on the first day of your period, you are protected straight away. If you start the injection at another time in your cycle, you need to use extra precautions for 7 days.

    You cannot use it if you are pregnant If you have any medical problems/ take any medications you need to discuss with the doctor whether you can use it.

    instructions are followed carefully? >99% effective If 100 women used this for a year 1 would get pregnant.

    You can get pregnant. You should not be more than 2 weeks late for an injection to remain protected.

    No Antibiotics and other tablets do not affect the hormone injection

    Rarely some people are allergic to the injection You can get an infection at the site of the injection. It may increase the risk of you getting thin bones, especially if you are already at risk. Check out www.fpa.org.uk or come and talk to us about this.

  • Implant

    A tiny flexible tube put under the skin that releases progesterone into the body

    No

    It can last up to 3 years but you can get it taken out any time It doesn’t interrupt sex You can use it if you are breast feeding Fertility returns to normal soon after it is taken out.

    Periods are often irregular or they might stop. This can be difficult for some people You might get spotty skin/ mood changes/ breast tenderness You need to come in and get it fitted. We will numb your arm and then put the tube under your skin.

    Prevents eggs being released (ovulation) Makes mucus around cervix thick so sperm finds it difficult to get in Makes the lining of the womb thin so if the egg comes along, difficult for it to bed in.

    As soon as the implant is put in, it starts working. If you have it put in on the first day of your period, you are protected straight away. If you have it put in at any time, use extra precaution for the first 7 days.

    You cannot use it if you are pregnant If you have any medical problems/ take any medications you need to discuss with the doctor whether you can use it

    >99% effective If 100 women used this for a year 1 would get pregnant.

    Once it’s in, you don’t have to remember to do anything for 3 years. After that, you need to get it changed.

    Some medicines can interact with the patch like anti HIV and antiepileptic medication. We need to work out what to do together if you are taking any other medication. Common antibiotics do not affect the implant

    Rarely, you can get an infection of the skin on your arm where it is put in.

  • Patch

    A patch stuck on your skin that releases oestrogen and progesterone into your body

    No

    You don’t need to think about it every day. You need to replace the patch once a week It doesn’t interrupt sex It may reduce PMT symptoms

    It is stuck on the skin so it can be seen Some people get Skin irritation You might get spotty skin/ mood changes/ breast tenderness In the first few months, you can get a bit of spotting when it is not your period

    Prevents eggs being released (ovulation) Makes mucus around cervix thick so sperm finds it difficult to get in Makes the lining of the womb thin so if the egg comes along, difficult for it to bed in. you need to use extra protection during these 7 days. Eg condoms

    Put the patch on your body ( anywhere apart from your breast which is clean, dry and not too hairy) You can leave the patch on for 7 days. Change to a new patch on the same day as you take the old one off. After 3 weeks (21 days), you can have a patch free 7 days.

    You cannot use it if you are pregnant You cannot use it if you are breast feeding. Some people with migraines cannot use it If you are very overweight or continue smoking after you are 35 you cannot use it. If you have any medical problems/ take any medications you need to discuss with the doctor whether you can use it.

    99% effective If 100 women used this for a year 1 would get pregnant.

    If the patch falls off, reapply it as quickly as you can. If it is not sticky, use a new patch. If it has fallen off for less than 48 hours, you are still protected. If it has fell off more than 48hours ago or you don’t know how long it has been off, you may need emergency contraception. If you forget to change patches more than 48hours after your change time, you may need emergency contraception

    Some medicines can interact with the patch like antibiotics, anti HIV and antiepileptic medication. We need to work out what to do together if you are taking any other medication. Talk to us at the house [link] if you are unsure or talk to your doctor.

    It can increase your blood pressure. Very low risk but serious side-effects may include blood clots, breast cancer and cervical cancer

  • Coil(IUS)

    A small plastic device which releases the hormone progesterone. It is put into the womb

    No

    It can last up to 5 years but you can get it taken out any time It doesn’t interrupt sex You can use it if you are breast feeding Fertility returns to normal soon after it is taken out. It can make your periods lighter. It doesn’t affect other medications you are taking

    You will have to come in to get it fitted. Your periods might change so they become heavier or lighter or stop. Temporary minor side-effects such as spotty skin, breast tenderness, weight gain, headaches. In the first 3 weeks there is a small chance of getting an infection.

    Makes mucus around cervix thick so sperm finds it difficult to get in Makes the lining of the womb thin so if the egg comes along, difficult for it to bed in. In a few women, it stops the egg being released.

    You need to come in and have it fitted. A doctor or nurse will do an internal examination and at chyps, we always check for any infections. It takes about 20 minutes to have it fitted. Sometimes it is uncomfortable. We give you something to numb the pain and antibiotics to avoid infection. If you feel unwell with belly ache or discharge the first 3 weeks after it is out in, it might be an infection. Come and see us. If you don’t have it fitted on the first day of your period, you will need extra precautions for 7 days

    You cannot use it if you are pregnant If you have any medical problems, you need to discuss with the doctor whether you can use it.

    >99% effective If 100 women used this for a year 1 would get pregnant.

    We will show you how to feel for the threads. You should do this about once a month. If you cannot feel them, the coil might not be in the right place and you might not be protected so come in and see us.

    No

    There is a small chance of infection when it is first put in. We will usually check to see if you have an infection before we put it in. Rarely, the coil can be pushed in our out of your womb. That is why it is good to check the threads once a month. Very rarely, the coil can go straight through your womb (perforate). You might get some pain or not feel it. If you do get pregnant, there is a risk that the pregnancy will be ectopic

  • Coil(IUD)

    A small plastic and copper device. It is put into the womb

    No

    It can last up to 5-10 years but you can get it taken out any time It doesn’t interrupt sex You can use it if you are breast feeding Fertility returns to normal soon after it is taken out. It doesn’t affect other medications you are taking

    Your periods may be heavier You need to come in to get it fitted.

    It stops the sperm reaching the egg

    You need to come in and have it fitted. A doctor or nurse will do an internal examination and at chyps, we always check for any infections. It takes about 20 minutes to have it fitted. Sometimes it is uncomfortable. We give you something to numb the pain and antibiotics to avoid infection. If you feel unwell with belly ache or discharge the first 3 weeks after it is out in, it might be an infection. Come and see us. It starts working straight way no matter where you are in your cycle.

    You cannot use it if you are pregnant If you have any medical problems, you need to discuss with the doctor whether you can use it.

    >99% effective If 100 women used this for a year 1 would get pregnant.

    We will show you how to feel for the threads. You should do this about once a month. If you cannot feel them, the coil might not be in the right place and you might not be protected so come in and see us.

    No

    There is a small chance of infection when it is first put in. We will usually check to see if you have an infection before we put it in. Rarely, the coil can be pushed in our out of your womb. That is why it is good to check the threads once a month. Very rarely, the coil can go straight through your womb (perforate). You might get some pain or not feel it. If you do get pregnant, there is a risk that the pregnancy will be ectopic.

  • Vaginal Ring

    A flexible transparent plastic ring

    No

    You don’t have to think about it every day, you only use one ring a month. It doesn’t interrupt sex. It is easy to insert and remove. The hormones do not need to be absorbed by the stomach so it is still effective if you vomit or have diarrhoea Your period will usually become lighter, more regular and be less painful. It can reduce the symptoms of PMT. It may reduce the risk of cancer of the ovary, uterus and colon. It may reduce the risk of fibroids, ovarian cysts and non-cancerous breast disease.

    Some women may not feel comfortable inserting and removing it. You may get temporary side effects at first including increased vaginal discharge and vaginal infections, headaches, nausea, breast tenderness and mood changes. Breakthrough bleeding and spotting may occur in the first few months of use. Does not protect you against STIs

    The vaginal ring releases a constant dose of hormones into the bloodstream through the vaginal wall. It stops the ovaries from releasing an egg each month. It also thickens the mucus from the cervix which makes it difficult for a sperm to move through it and reach an egg. It makes the lining of the womb thinner so it is less likely to accept a fertilised egg.

    A doctor or nurse will advise you on how to insert and remove the ring. With clean hands squeeze the ring between thumb and finger and use one hand to insert it into the vagina. Push the ring into the vagina until it feels comfortable. Remove the ring by hooking a finger under it or by grasping it between your thumb and finger and gently pull it out. If you experience pain or bleeding tell your doctor or nurse immediately.

    No, which is why you will need to tell your doctor/nurse your medical history. Some of the following conditions may mean you can’t use the ring: You think you might be pregnant You smoke and are 35 or over. You are 35 or over and stopped smoking less than a year ago. You are very overweight You take certain medicines. You get or have had very severe migraines or migraines with aura thrombosis (blood clots) in a vein or artery. Your vaginal muscles can’t hold the ring.

    If used correctly the ring is over 99% effective.

    If you forget to take the ring out after 3 weeks you will still be protected against pregnancy for the first seven days only. If you forget to put a new ring in you will need to use additional contraception until a new ring has been in place for seven days.

    There are a few medicines that make the ring less effective so speak to your doctor or nurse. Common antibiotics: you can continue to use the ring but will need to use additional contraception such as condoms. If you are taking antibiotics for more than two weeks you will need to follow different instructions, see your doctor or nurse. Some other medicines including those to treat epilepsy, HIV and TB and St John’s Wort. If you are taking any of these talk to your doctor or nurse, you may be advised to use a different method of contraception.

    A very small number of women may develop a blood clot which can block a vein (venous thrombosis) or an artery (arterial thrombosis). If you have ever had a thrombosis you should not use the ring. The risk of venous thrombosis is greatest during the first year of using the ring and if you smoke, are overweight, are immobile for long periods of time or use a wheelchair, have severe varicose veins or a member of your immediate family had a venous thrombosis before they were 45. The risk of arterial thrombosis is greatest if you smoke, are diabetic, have high blood pressue, are very overweight, have migrains with aura or a member of your immediate family has had a heart attack or stroke before they were 45. There may be a small increase in developing cervical cancer with long use.

What is it?

Does it protect against STIs?

What is good about using this for contraception?

What is bad about using this for contraception?

How does it work?

How do I use it?

Can anyone use it?

How well does it work if the instructions are followed carefully?

What happens if I forget to use it or use it wrong?

Will it affect any other medication that I am taking?

What are the possible risks of using this?