Choosing the right contraception for you


Choosing the right contraception for you

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If you’re planning on having sex, it’s essential that you have a plan for which contraception you’d like to use. Contraception primarily stops unwanted pregnancy, but also reduces the risk of transmitting sexually transmitted infections, so it’s really important to ensure that you and your partner are protected.

There are more methods of contraception available now than ever and each has its own pros and cons. The best way to make a decision on which to go for is to do your research before speaking to a GP or Sexual Health Specialist. Read on for our basic guide to the most common contraceptives and go into your appointment feeling more prepared to make a decision – though we still recommend that you take on board the advice of your doctor.


External condoms worn on the penis during penetration is the only form of contraception that effectively protects against both STIs and pregnancy – and so is often used in combination with other methods. When used correctly, condoms are 98% effective.


Condoms are easy to use once you know how and available in a variety of colours, flavours and textures to spice things up a little, so this contraceptive needn’t feel unsexy! They can be carried by anyone and can be picked up for free from sexual health clinics and GP surgeries. If you’re having casual sex, condoms are ideal as they’ll help block transmission of any STIs.


Perhaps the most common reason not to use condoms is that either party involved has forgotten them, so you do need to remember to have one with you if you’re getting any action. If you have a latex or plastic allergy, you’ll need to source specific condoms so as not to aggravate your allergy. It’s possible for condoms to slip off during sex, and if this happens you’ll need to seek out emergency contraception and have an STI test.

The pill

While the pill is often referred to in singular terms, there are actually two types: the combined pill and the progestogen-only pill. Both contain artificial hormones to block ovulation and reduce the risk of pregnancy.


The contraceptive pill is widely prescribed and so if you decide it’s for you, it’s easily obtainable from your GP. It’s considered medically suitable for a wide variety of people and so it is unlikely you’d be advised against using it, and the progestogen- only pill can be used by those who are unable to use medication containing oestrogen. When taken correctly, both pill types are over 99% effective.


Both pills need to be taken daily so you need to be able to incorporate taking it into a routine in order to remember, which doesn’t suit everyone. Some medicines and illnesses may render the pill ineffective and there are lots of potential side effects to be aware of. Neither pill offers protection against STIs.

IUD/IUS (Intra-Uterine Device/System)

IUDs and IUS’ are more commonly known as coils, and there’s two main types: the copper coil and the hormonal coil. These are small T-shaped devices inserted into the womb by a doctor or nurse and create a ‘hostile’ environment for sperm trying to enter. The hormonal coil also emits progestogen to reinforce this impact.


It can be uncomfortable to have a coil inserted and it is a medical procedure, so you will need to take an hour or so out to have it done. There is a small risk of dislodgment and of infection, but incidences of this are rare. There are some side effects to be aware of, but most commonly with the IUD (copper coil), you may find that you experience heavier periods for the first few months. Neither coil protects against STIs.


IUDs and IUS’ are long-term contraceptives and last up to 5 years effectively, so you really can just have them put in and forget about them. When inserted correctly, they are one of the most successful forms of contraception with over a 99% effectiveness rate. Both are available free on the NHS and you can have a coil inserted directly after childbirth if desired. It is an immediate form of contraception with no incubation window. Once one coil has reached its time limit, you can have another inserted upon its removal right away. Many people with an IUS find their periods stop, so it’s often recommended for those who struggle with heavy or painful menstruation.

Contraceptive injection

There are three major brands of contraceptive injection and each varies slightly. Much like the hormonal coil, it works by releasing progestogen into the blood stream. If used correctly, the injection is over 99% effective.


Unlike most contraceptives, the injection is completely unaffected by other medicines as it’s such a direct method. It’s often recommended for those who can’t use oestrogen-containing contraception.


Depending on the brand of contraceptive injection, you’ll need to have it administered regularly: usually between 8-13 weeks. This does mean that you need to remember to have it done before it becomes ineffective. If you’ve had the injection for a while, you may find that your fertility does not properly recover for almost a year. Therefore, it’s not ideal if you’re likely to want to try for a baby in the near future. It’s likely that you won’t be able to pick which brand of injection you have and will be at the liberty of whatever your GP or sexual health clinic has in stock. The injection does not protect against STIs.

Fertility awareness and digital contraceptives

Where you’re able to understand, monitor and record your fertility cycle, you can plan your sexual activity around whether or not to conceive. This is a totally chemically- free contraceptive and there are now a variety of fertility awareness apps available to help people understand their natural cycle and monitor its patterns.


There are no physical side effects to maintaining fertility planning and it’s ideal if you’re hoping to conceive as you can maximise your chances. Even if you’re not planning on having a baby, fertility planning can be used as an interim contraceptive while having a break from chemical/hormonal methods.


Fertility planning does require the individual to keep vigorous daily records of fertility signals, and it can take about 6 menstrual cycles for patterns to become apparent. However, fertility signals can be impacted by illness, stress and travel, so there’s no guarantee such signals mean what you think they do. If you’re using fertility planning in order to not conceive, you will find yourself limited by when you can have sex as you’ll need to avoid your most fertile days. Fertility planning does not protect against STIs.

Further advice on contraception

You should have a chat with your GP or local sexual health clinic before deciding on a contraception, as there may be individual medical factors to consider in the effectiveness of each for you. This is by no means an exhaustive list and there’s plenty of options should none of the above suit your needs.

Everyone deserves pleasure, and on their own terms, so be sure to seek advice and experiences from others before settling for one choice over another.

Wellness Cloud gives you easy remote access to experienced specialists, who can support you with relationships and family planning.

For further information, or to book a session online with one of our specialists, visit our website.