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Contraception - Overview

Our specialists offer expert advice on contraception methods for women. There are many different types of contraception. Which method will work best for you is based on numerous factors including age, medical history, whether you smoke, and which medicines you take.

The only way to protect yourself against STIs (sexually transmitted diseases) is to use a condom every time you have sex. Other methods of contraception only prevent pregnancy, but do not protect against STIs.

Other factors which may influence your decision to use a certain contraceptive method include the effectiveness at preventing pregnancy, and how often you have to use/replace the contraceptive.

In your consultation, your specialist will run through different options with you and recommend the best methods for you.
Find out more about Contraception:
Contraception Specialists
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What methods are available?

Method
Effectiveness
Usage
Contraceptive implant
Over 99% effective
Lasts up to 3 years
Intrauterine system (IUS)
Over 99% effective
Lasts up to 5 years
Intrauterine device, or IUD (the coil)
Over 99% effective
Up to 5 to 10 years effectiveness
Over 99% effective
Permanent
Male sterilisation (vasectomy)
Over 99% effective
Permanent
Contraceptive injection
Over 99% effective when used correctly but below 95% with typical use
Renewed every 8 to 12 weeks depending on the type
Combined pill
Over 99% effective when used correctly but below 95% with typical use
Taken every day for 3 weeks out of every month
Progestogen-only pill
Over 99% effective when used correctly but below 95% with typical use
Taken every day
Contraceptive patch
Over 99% effective when used correctly but below 95% with typical use
Renewed each week for 3 weeks in every month
Vaginal ring
Over 99% effective when used correctly but below 95% with typical use
Renewed once a month
Male condom
Over 98% effective when used correctly
Every time you have sex
Female condom
Over 95% effective when used correctly
Every time you have sex
Diaphragm or cap with spermicide
92 to 96% effective when used correctly
Every time you have sex

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Other Considerations

Are you comfortable inserting contraceptives into your vagina?

You may wish to consider the following contraceptive methods if you are comfortable inserting them into your vagina:
  • Vaginal ring
  • Female condoms
  • A diaphragm or cap
If you want to have a longer term method, and do not mind a specialist inserting a contraceptive into your uterus you could consider:
  • Intrauterine device (IUD)
  • Intrauterine system (IUS)

Do you mind if the contraception affects your period?

Some contraceptive methods can affect your periods in different ways. They can make your periods lighter or heavier, more infrequent or more irregular. Your specialist will be able to discuss these effects with you.

Some contraceptives can help to make you periods lighter, including:
  • The pill (combined pill or progestogen-only pill)
  • Contraceptive patch
  • Contraceptive injection
  • Intrauterine system (IUS)
  • Vaginal ring

Do you smoke?

You will be able to use most types of contraception if you smoke, but if you are also over 35 years old, the combined pill,vaginal ring or patch may not be suitable. If you are over 35 and smoke, you can consider the following:
  • Intrauterine device (IUD)
  • Intrauterine system (IUS)
  • Contraceptive implant
  • Contraceptive injection
  • Progestogen-only pill

What can you do if you are unable to use hormonal contraceptives?

Some contraceptives produce oestrogen and progestogen, hormones which are naturally produced in women. These contraceptives may be unsuitable for women with medical conditions such as breast cancer.

Other contraceptives which do not use hormones may be more suitable. These include:
  • Intrauterine device (IUD)
  • Condoms (male or female)
  • Diaphragm or cap

Are you taking any other medicines?

Talk to your specialist about any medications you are taking. Some contraceptives may be affected by your medication but there are options available which are not affected, including:
  • Intrauterine device (IUD)
  • Intrauterine system (IUS)
  • Contraceptive injection
  • Condoms (male or female)
  • Diaphragm or cap

Do you want to get pregnant soon?

Contraceptive methods can be stopped if you want to have a baby. Normally, you will be able to get pregnant as soon as you stop using contraception.

Fertility normally returns to normal within a month of stopping the combined pill, vaginal ring or contraceptive patch, and more quickly for other, non-hormonal methods. Your fertility may take longer to return after stopping the contraceptive injection.

Contraception - Specialists

Mrs Ruchira Singh

Mrs Ruchira Singh

Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist

Ruchira is a Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist with her NHS practice based at Birmingham Women's Hospital in Edgbaston. She is the Clinical Director of Gynaecology at her NHS Trust.

Ruchira is a reviewer for European Journal of Obstetrics and gynaecology. She is also a Senior clinical examiner and Honorary lecturer for University of Birmingham.

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Dr Pallavi Latthe

Dr Pallavi Latthe

Consultant Gynaecologist and subspecialist Urogynaecologist

Dr Pallavi is an accredited subspecialist in urogynaecology and a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at the Birmingham Women’s NHS Foundation Trust.

She is the clinical lead for Paediatric and Adolescent Gynaecology in the Trust.

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