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Family Planning

Choosing your contraception

You and your doctor or women’s health nurse can talk about the best contraception for you. The following information is only a brief description of your contraception choices.


The Male Condom

The male condom is a fine rubber or synthetic sheath that is worn on an erect (stiff) penis. It collects the sperm and stops them entering the vagina and uterus. You can easily purchase condoms from the chemist or supermarket; they reduce the risk of both pregnancy and sexually transmitted infection. Condoms are 98% effective with perfect use.

If not used correctly or mistakes happen, there is a 2 in 10 chance (82%) of getting pregnant or catching a STI.


The Contraceptive Pill

The combined oral contraceptive pill contains two hormones and stops the ovaries releasing an egg each month. You still bleed each month but often with a reduced loss. Acne and premenstrual syndrome can be improved with the combined pill. Occasional side effects include bloating, nausea, and minor weight gain. The combined pill is 99.7% effective with perfect use.

1 in 10 women (91%) taking the Pill may get pregnant;

The progestogen-only pill (mini pill or POP) Has only one hormone and works by changing the mucus at the entrance to the womb (uterus) so that sperm cannot pass through to fertilise the egg.

The progestogen-only pill is different from the combined pill as it does not stop ovulation. The POP is 99.7% effective with perfect use. If mistakes happen, such as missed pills, 1 in 10 women (91%) may get pregnant.


Emergency Pill

(Previously known as the Morning after Pill)

If you were not using contraception and you had sex when you did not plan to, or the condom broke, and you don’t want to get pregnant, then you can take the emergency pill. Emergency pills are available from the chemist with no prescription.

Emergency pills must be started within three days (72 hours) after unprotected sex and work most effectively if taken as soon after unprotected sex as possible


The Contraceptive Injection

DMPA (also called Depo Provera or Depo Ralovera) is an injection given to a woman every 12 weeks for contraception.

It is a long-acting synthetic hormone.

It can be used when breastfeeding. Any side effects can last for up to 12 weeks. Depo Provera is 99.8% effective with

perfect use. Even though it is a very effective form of contraception, approximately 1 in 20 women (94%), may get

pregnant when using DMPA.


Contraceptive Skin Implant

This is a small plastic rod containing one hormone, progestogen, which is inserted underneath the skin on the inside of the upper arm. It stops the ovaries releasing an egg each month. Most women will have a different bleeding patterns and some stop bleeding altogether.

Some women experience skin changes, mood changes and/or minor weight gain. The implant last for 3 years and is a very effective method for preventing pregnancy (99.95% effective).


Intra Uterine Device (IUD)

This is a small contraceptive device that is placed in the woman’s uterus. There are two kinds of IUD:

  • copper IUD – last for 5-10 years and is 99.4% effective
  • progestogen IUD – lasts for 5 years and is 99.8% effective.

Although the IUD has been used for more than 30 years to prevent pregnancy, how it works is still not fully understood.

The IUD affects sperm movement and survival in the uterus (womb) so that they cannot reach the egg to fertilise it. The IUD also changes the lining of the womb (endometrium) so that it is not suitable for pregnancy and prevents an egg – if it does become fertilised – from developing.

It is very effective long-term contraception.

The copper IUD may cause your periods to be heavier and the progestogen IUD will reduce your period loss.



Both men and women can have an operation to make them sterile. The woman’s operation is done through the abdomen and is called a tubal occlusion and the man’s is called a vasectomy. The operations are more than 99% effective and are permanent. This method is for people who have already had all the children they want.