Birth Control Methods

Just because babies are cute it doesn’t necessarily mean we want to create one every time we decide to enjoy sexual intercourse with a partner. Birth control, also known as fertility control and contraception, exists so that we can prevent pregnancy.

There are many methods of contraception available, from condoms to the contraceptive pill and a whole host of others in between. Allow us to take you on whistle-stop family planning tour as we explain the numerous options.

Male and Female Condom

Both male and female condoms are available from numerous places (although male condoms are more widely sold). You can buy them from supermarkets, chemists, vending machines and online pharmacies. You can also obtain condoms for free from family planning and sexual health clinics and your GP. There is less embarrassment associated with obtaining condoms nowadays, sex is an integral part of most people’s lives and “safe sex” is actively promoted and much more openly discussed.

The male condom is an extremely popular method of contraception, partly due to the fact that it is so quick and easy to use. Made from thin latex, the male condom prevents sperm from entering the vagina and is 98% safe (providing it is used correctly). The female condom is made of thin polyurethane and also does the job of stopping sperm from making its way into the vagina. It is considered to be 95% effective if it is used in the right way. Unlike other methods of birth control the male and female condom can also be used to prevent sexually transmitted diseases.

Contraceptive Injection and Implant

The relatively new contraceptive injection is thought to be 99% effective. It involves the injection of progestogen and usually lasts for between 8 and 13 weeks. It is good if you are not particularly good at remembering to take a contraceptive pill and may also offer some respite from painful periods. Once progestogen has been injected you have to let the contraceptive run its course, it cannot be removed. There are concerns that it causes weight gain and your body may take a little time to readjust once the injection wears off.

The tiny contraceptive implant (in the form of a little rod) is placed below the skin of your arm. Like the injection it is thought to be 99% safe and releases progestogen into your system. An implant can last for three years, but it is possible to have it removed (your fertility will then return to normal).

Contraceptive Pill

There are two types of daily oral contraceptive pill, the combined pill and the progestogen-only pill, both are considered to be 99% safe.

The combined pill contains progestogen and oestrogen and as the name suggests, the progestogen-only pill contains progestogen. It’s really important to remember to take the contraceptive pill every day (and the progestogen only pill needs to be taken at roughly the same time each day). It’s a good idea to put your contraceptive pill somewhere you won’t miss it, to help you to remember - next to your toothbrush is a good place.

Intrauterine Device (IUD)

Sometimes known as the coil, the IUD is a small contrivance that is placed into your uterus by a medical professional. At 99% effective, it offers a high level of reliability regarding preventing pregnancy and it can stay in the uterus for between five and ten years (although it can be taken out whenever you require).

Male Sterilisation (Vasectomy)

For a more permanent solution to preventing pregnancy (although not entirely irreversible), there’s the vasectomy. For this the man has the tubes that carry sperm from the penis to the testicles sealed, tied or cut. This sounds fairly traumatic, but men everywhere can uncross their legs and sigh, this is considered a relatively easy and painless operation, and the bonus is, there’s no need to worry about birth control ever again. Providing the male is only having intercourse with a long-standing partner and vice-versa then there is no danger of STI’s. Men can pack away their condoms and the women can say goodbye to the contraceptive pill.

Natural Family Planning

Natural family planning entails understanding your menstrual cycle and the times you are fertile and infertile. It is classed as up to 99% effective, but relies heavily on you getting it right. There are professionals available who can help with this as relying on this as your method for preventing pregnancy can be a risky business!

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