Contraception refers to any technique designed to prevent unwanted pregnancy in a woman. Modern contraceptives include the use of hormones, devices, or surgery and can be used by both women and men. Different types of contraception work in different ways, and to make an informed decision as to which method is the most suitable for you, it is important to know how each one works.
What Types of Contraception are There?
- The contraceptive pill: “the pill” is a generic term for a wide variety of contraceptive pills, implants and injections taken by the woman to stop ovulation and change the chemical environment in the womb to prevent a pregnancy. The contraceptive pill includes combined contraceptive pills, progesterone only pills, contraceptive implants and injections, and contraceptive patches. Be aware that there are side effects of contraceptive pills. Your doctor can advise you on the different types of contraceptive pills.
- Condoms: typically worn by a man (although there are female condoms available), condoms are a barrier method of contraception that prevents the male sperm from entering the woman’s vagina. Condoms are also an effective method of protection against sexually transmitted diseases.
- Diaphragms/caps: a barrier method of contraceptive that is inserted into the vagina before sexual intercourse. Used in conjunction with a spermicide, diaphragms and caps prevent the sperm from passing through the cervix and fertilising an egg.
- Intrauterine device: otherwise known as a coil, an IUD is a small copper device inserted into the womb. It prevents a pregnancy by releasing copper into the body and changing the chemical environment in the womb and fallopian tubes.
- Vasectomy: a male vasectomy involves surgically cutting the tubes that carry sperm to the semen.
- Female sterilisation: this procedure is more complex than a vasectomy. It involves cutting, sealing, blocking, or tying the fallopian tubes so that sperm cannot reach the eggs.
- Emergency contraception: as the name suggests, this type of contraception is designed to be used in an emergency. The “morning after pill” is effective when taken up to three days after unprotected sexual intercourse.
How Effective are Contraceptives?
Different methods of contraceptives have different rates of effectiveness. Certain methods of contraceptives such as a vasectomy or female sterilisation are 100% effective in the long term, but these should only be considered permanent and are not suitable for short term contraceptive use. Other factors to consider are whether you are likely to use the contraception properly and how often you will be having sex.
Which Type of Contraceptive Method is Right for Me?
This is a decision that can be made after consultation with your doctor. Before deciding which contraceptive method is going to be right for you, various things need to be taken into consideration such as your age, general health, medical history, and sex life. Younger women who have not yet had children may well be advised to use different methods of contraception compared to older women who already have families.
Are There Any Side Effects to Consider?
Some types of contraception can have unwanted side effects, but this is something your doctor will be able to advise you about during the consultation process.