CONTRACEPTION

SUITABLE FOR BOTH MEN & WOMEN

There are many different types of contraception suitable for both men and women but the availability of products and services differs from country to country. Further information and advice on contraception where you are is available from family planning clinics, sexual health clinics and your GP.

Choose a contraceptive method from below to learn more.

MALE CONDOM

The male condom is up to 98% effective if used correctly. If used incorrectly, they can sometimes slip or split.

Benefits
  • No side effects
  • Only need to be used when having sex
  • Easily available
  • Helps protect against STIs including HIV/AIDs & cervical cancer
  • Available in many sizes & shapes to suit everyone
Drawbacks
  • Putting them on can interrupt sex
  • Some people claim that condoms reduce sensitivity during sex
Availablity
From pharmacies, supermarkets, garages, on the internet with a credit card, from vending machines and sometimes free from family planning clinics, sexual health clinics and some GPs.

FEMALE CONDOM

The female condom is up to 95% effective but if used incorrectly, can sometimes slip or split.

Benefits
  • No side effects
  • Only need to be used when having sex
  • Can help protect against STIs including HIV/AIDs
  • Can be inserted anytime before sex
Drawbacks
  • Inserting them can interrupt sex
  • Some people claim that condoms reduce sensitivity during sex
  • Not widely available
Availablity
From pharmacies, supermarkets and other shops as well as by mail order and via the internet with a credit card.

THE PILL

The combined pill contains 2 hormones and is up to 99+% effective. The mini pill contains only one hormone and is up to 99% effective.

Benefits
  • Can make periods lighter, shorter and less painful
  • Can help with premenstrual syndrome/tension/acne
  • Helps protect against some pelvic infections as well as cancer of the ovary and cancer of the womb
  • Does not interfere with sex
  • Reduces the risk of fibroids, ovarian cysts and breast disease (other than cancer)
Drawbacks
  • May increase blood pressure
  • May cause nausea, breast tenderness, bleeding between periods, headaches and mood changes. Changing pill may help
  • Must be taken every day or 21 out of 28 days
  • Does not protect against STIs including HIV/AIDS
  • Protection can be reduced during sickness and whilst taking antibiotics
  • During breast feeding, an alternative form of contraception is usually recommended
Availablity
From some GPs, family planning clinics and pharmacies - with a prescription.

MORNING AFTER PILL

Emergency Hormonal Contraception is between 58-95% effective.

Benefits
  • Can prevent pregnancy after unsafe sex
Drawbacks
  • Can cause vomiting. If sick within 2 hours, effectiveness can be reduced
  • Does not protect against STIs including HIV/AIDS
  • Must be taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex. Most effective within 24 hours
  • Is not suitable as regular contraception
  • Can disrupt periods
Availablity
From family planning clinics, sexual health clinics and some GPs. In some counties can be purchased from pharmacy if over 16.

DIAPHRAGMS, CAPS & SPONGES

Diaphragms and caps are up to 92-96% effective. Sponges are 89-91% effective.

Benefits
  • Only need to be used when having sex
  • Can be inserted at any convenient time before sex
  • Diaphragms and caps may give some protection against cervical cancer and STIs. Sponges do not
Drawbacks
  • May cause cystitis
  • Can take time to learn to use them effectively
  • Diaphragms only provide limited protection against STUs including HIV/AIDS
Availablity
Must initially be fitted by a doctor or nurse at a surgery or family planning clinic. Once initially fitted, they can be bought from pharmacies.

CONTRACEPTIVE INJECTION

The contraceptive injection is 99+% effective.

Benefits
  • Does not interfere with sex
  • Can be used during breastfeeding
  • Provides some protection against pelvic inflammatory disease and may offer some protection from cancer of the womb
  • Provides contraception for 8-12 weeks
  • Can reduce heavy, painful periods and help with premenstrual symptoms
Drawbacks
  • Periods may change and bleeding may be irregular. Symptoms may persist for several months after injections have stopped
  • Possible side effects may include headaches, acne, tender breasts, weight gain, mood swings, abdominal pain and bloating
  • Side effects will probably last for the duration of the injections
  • After injections have ceased, fertility may take over a year to return
  • Does not protect against STIs including HIV/AIDS
Availablity
Only available from GPs and family planning clinics.

CONTRACEPTIVE IMPLANT

The contraceptive implant is up to 99+% effective.

Benefits
  • Does not interfere with sex
  • Can be used if breastfeeding
  • Normal levels of fertility return after implant is removed
  • Contraception lasts for 3-5 years
Drawbacks
  • Periods may change and bleeding may be irregular
  • Possible side effects may include headaches, acne, tender breasts, weight gain, abdominal pain and bloating
  • Very rarely, an infection can occur at the implant site in the arm
  • A small procedure is needed to fit and remove the implant
  • Some women experience depression and mood swings
  • Does not protect against STIs including HIV/AIDS
Availablity
Only available from GPs and family planning clinics.

IUS & IUD

The Intrauterine System (IUS) Hormone Releasing IUD is up to 99+% effective.

Benefits
  • Lasts for 5 years
  • Does not interfere with sex
  • Periods become lighter, shorter and sometimes less painful
  • Fertility returns quickly after removal
  • Can be used when breastfeeding
Drawbacks
  • Some women may have slight, irregular bleeding for the first 6 months
  • Temporary side effects can include headache, acne and breast tenderness
  • Some women may develop cysts on their ovaries. These are not dangerous and usually disappear without treatment
  • Device can be pushed out of the womb or become dislodged
  • Rarely, can puncture the womb requiring surgical removal
  • Does not protect against STIs including HIV/AIDS
  • Small chance of infection after insertion
Availablity
Family planning clinics, sexual health clinics and some GPs. Must be fitted by a trained doctor or nurse.

NATURAL FAMILY PLANNING

Effective rates for Fertility Indication, the Rhythm Method and the Withdrawal Method vary but can be up to 98%. For maximum efficiency, observing and recording natural signs of fertility on each day are necessary.

Benefits
  • Fertility Awareness can be used when couples want to have a baby
  • No chemicals mean no side effects
  • Acceptable to all faiths and cultures
Drawbacks
  • Takes 3-6 months to learn
  • Daily records must be kept
  • Illness, travelling or stress can affect results
  • Intercourse must be avoided (or other contraception employed) at fertile times
  • Does not protect against STIs including HIV/AIDS
Availablity
GPs and family planning clinics can give advice on various methods.

STERILISATION

A permanent method of contraception where the tubes that supply sperm or the tubes that carry the egg are cut or tied. Both are up to 100% effective but 1 in 2000 operations on men may fail whilst 1 in 200 operations on women may fail.

Benefits
  • Does not interfere with sex
  • Permanent contraception
  • Male sterilization is quick and simple
Drawbacks
  • Cannot easily be reversed
  • Can take 2 months for sperm to disappear from semen. A test is needed to confirm they are absent
  • Uncommonly, tubes may naturally rejoin
  • Does not protect against STIs including HIV/AIDS
  • Female sterilization requires a general anaesthetic and male sterilization requires a local anaesthetic
Availablity
These are surgical procedures and can only be carried out by trained doctors or nurses. Family planning clinics, sexual health clinics and GPs can provide more information.