Finding the right contraception for me

What contraception should I use?

Finding the type of contraception that is right for you depends on lots of things. The best way to get it right is to talk it over with a trained professional. It's normal to try out a few different methods before you find something that works for you.

There are two main ways contraception works, through 'hormonal methods' and 'barrier methods'.

Barrier methods, like using a condom, work by stopping the sperm reaching the egg.

Hormonal methods, like the pill, work by releasing hormones in the body. These hormones usually stop the young woman releasing eggs from her ovaries, prevent the young man's sperm reaching an egg or stop the egg from getting attached to the womb.

You can use two different methods together, for example condoms and the pill. This way you protect yourself and your partner from STIs and you also get extra protection against unwanted pregnancy.

Long Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC)

LARC are all types of contraceptives that you don't have to remember to take very often. They are fitted by health professionals, like a nurse.

Many young women think LARC is safer and easier to use because they don't have to remember to take it everyday, like the Contraceptive Pill. They are reversible so when you want to try to have a baby they can be stopped or removed.

Different types of LARC

  • Injection (lasts 8 or 12 weeks) The injection contains the hormone progestogen. You need a 'top-up' every 8 to 12 weeks to stay protected, so it's important that you keep to your appointment with a nurse or doctor. More info about the injection
  • Implant (lasts 3 years). The implant is a small flexible tube placed under your skin. The implant contains the hormone progestogen. It is fitted on the inside of your upper arm by a trained nurse or doctor. More info about the implant
  • IUD (lasts 5 – 10 years). The IUD is a small T-shaped copper and plastic rod that is placed into your womb. The IUD works by stopping the sperm from surviving once inside the girl. More info about the IUD
  • IUS (lasts 5 years). The IUS is quite similar to the IUD, it has the same shape and is placed into the womb. But is made just of plastic and contains the hormone progestogen. More info about the IUS.

Short acting methods

Short acting methods work by you doing something repeatedly, for example taking a pill every day or changing a patch. If you forget to do this, they stop working and you could get pregnant.

Different types of short acting methods

  • Condoms. Condoms are the only contraception that prevents STIs and pregnancies. This makes it the preferred method for a lot of people. Read more about condoms and where to get them for free here
  • Combined pill (aka the pill). The pill contains two different hormones that, among other things, stops the young woman from releasing an egg and therefore can't get pregnant. You should take the pill every day. Read more about the combined pill
  • Progestogen only pill (aka the mini pill or POP). The progestogen only pill contains only one of the two hormones found in the combined pill. It is as effective as the combined pill. But you need to remember to take the pill within the same three hour time every day. Some women can't take the combined pill because of medical reasons but they can take the mini pill. As with any contraception, check with a nurse or doctor before you choose your contraception. Read more about the progestogen only pill.
  • Patch (one a month, three weeks on, one week off). The contraceptive patch is a sticky plaster that delivers hormones to the body through the skin, a bit like a nicotine patch works. It contains the same hormones as the combined pill. You keep each patch on for one week and do this for three consecutive weeks. Then you have one week without a patch on. Read more about the patch.
  • Vaginal Ring (one per month, three weeks in, one week out). The vaginal ring is a soft, small plastic ring that the young woman keeps inside her vagina. The ring releases hormones that stop the young woman from getting pregnant. You keep the ring in for 21 days and have a break of 7 days. Read more about the vaginal ring.

Going 'Double Dutch'

Going 'Double Dutch' means using two types of contraception at the same time; the guy uses a condom and the young woman uses another type of contraception, like the pill. This method is making sex even safer than just using one type of contraception on its own. You will be protected against the spread of most Sexually Transmitted Infections. However both condoms and hormonal contraception have a small chance of failing (like the condom splitting or the pill not being taken as it should be). By using both you reduce the risk of pregnancy if one contraception fails.