Contraception is the use of surgery, devices or hormones, in order to prevent pregnancy. It allows couples to take control of when, or indeed if, they have a baby. When it comes to choosing the right type of contraception it can be extremely difficult. There are several different types of contraception: male condoms; female condoms; combined pill; contraceptive implant; contraceptive injection; contraceptive patch; diaphragms; caps; progestogen only pill; IUD; and IUS. Here, Chemist.net takes a look at some of the different types of contraception that are available.
Male condoms: Male condoms are made from latex, polyurethane or polyisoprene. They protect against both pregnancy and STIs (sexually transmitted infections). Condoms work by stopping sperm from entering the body. It is important to make sure that they are worn correctly; otherwise they can slip off or split. If used correctly each time that you have sex, they are 98% effective. They are also available in different sizes, shapes, colours and flavours.
Female condoms: Female condoms are made from polyurethane and help to protect against both pregnancy and STIs. They are worn inside the vagina to stop sperm from getting to the womb. Condoms should always be thrown in the bin after use. When used correctly they are 95% effective. It is important to buy condoms that carry the CE mark, as this shows that they conform to European safety standards.
Combined pill: The combined pill contains two hormones (progestogen and oestrogen) to stop women from becoming pregnant. They are taken every day for 21 days, followed by a break from them for seven days during which a period type bleed should occur, before starting the cycle again. The hormones (synthetic versions of hormones that are naturally released by the ovaries) prevent the ovaries from releasing an egg. They also make it harder for sperm to reach the egg and for eggs to implant in the womb lining. The combined pill is 99% effective.
Contraceptive implant: The contraceptive implant is around 40mm long and contains progestogen and lasts for up to 3 years. It can be removed at any time and once this has been done natural fertility tends to return quickly. The implant stops the release of eggs into the body by slowly releasing progestogen, which thickens cervical mucus and thins the womb lining, making it harder for sperm to move through the cervix. It is 99% effective when implanted correctly.
Contraceptive injection: The pregnancy injection protect against pregnancy for 8 or 12 weeks. The Depo-Provera injection lasts for 12 weeks and the Noristerat injection lasts for 8 weeks. The injection contains progestogen which thickens the mucus in the cervix so that sperm cannot reach the egg. It also thins the lining of the womb to stop eggs from becoming implanted. The contraceptive injection can stop ovulation in some women. If used correctly this method is 99% effective. However, it can take up to a year after coming off the injection for natural fertility to return to normal.