Babies might be a bundle of joy for some, but some people aren’t in the position to have that bundle in their life just yet, or might not want it at all. It is very important to consider and know the facts about what protection you are using when pursuing intimate relationships, no matter what your situation, to avoid any surprises! Here is some information about commonly used contraceptive choices.
Methods such as withdrawal or tracking menstrual cycles on a calendar are not recommended unless you have received proper education, as they are typically no more effective than no contraception at all.
Condoms + other barrier protection:
Condoms are one of the most widely-recognised forms of contraception. However, typically condoms are only 85% effective at preventing pregnancies, so it may be important to consider additional forms of contraception. It is also important that you know how to properly use condoms and that you/your partner uses the appropriate size. Importantly, condoms and other barrier methods (eg female condom and diaphragm) are the only contraceptive methods which protect against both pregnancies and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), so it is important to use these if you are having sex with someone whose STI status you are not sure of.
The Oral Contraceptive Pill (OCP, aka “the pill”)
One of the most commonly used forms of contraception. This is a pill which women take daily for 3 weeks to prevent ovulation (ie stops the female from releasing an egg), after which a placebo pill is taken, which triggers a menstrual period. If taken correctly, this is 99% effective at preventing pregnancies. However, typically the pill is only 92% effective. If you are someone who doesn’t like to take pills, or often forgets to take pills, it may be worth considering if there are other options suitable for you.
Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptives (LARCs)
These are a group of contraceptives which can last for an extended period of time without you having to remember to take a pill, but once you stop using them will still allow you to fall pregnant. These include long-lasting injections (eg Depot Provera, which lasts 3 months), an intrauterine device (an object which is inserted into your womb, eg Mirena which can last 5 years), or an implant inserted into your arm (eg Implanon, which can last 3 years). All of these will need to be prescribed and inserted by a trained doctor.
These options are very effective (97-99.8% effective) and may take away your period while you are taking them. If you do not plan on having children in the near future, it may be worth discussing these options with your doctor.
Operations: Vasectomy or Tubal Ligation (‘Tubes tied’)
If you are sure you are finished having children, it may be worth considering whether you want to have an operation to ensure you will not produce any further pregnancies. For men, this would involve a ‘vasectomy’ and for women it would involve a ‘tubal ligation’. This would mean you would never have to worry about contraception again, however it is usually not reversible so you must be sure you won’t want children again. This can be arranged by your GP and will be performed by a surgeon at the hospital, they are usually day procedures (meaning you will not have to stay at hospital)
Emergency Contraception (‘The Morning After Pill’):
Maybe you forgot to take the pill, maybe the condom broke. Whatever the reason, if you are worried that you have had a sexual encounter that may result in a pregnancy which you do not want, there are medications which are available without a prescription which can be effective for 3-5 days after the encounter. Ask your pharmacist about Plan B (or levonogestrel) or Ella (Ullipristal). If the encounter was more than 3 days ago, consider visiting your doctor for prescription medication. Remember, these medications are expensive so should not be used regularly! It may be worth discussing with your doctor what contraception is appropriate for you going forward.
If you are interested in learning more about this topic, feel free to book an appointment with one of our friendly doctors by booking online or contacting us by phone on 8269 6000.
Family Planning New South Wales (2013), Contraception Choices [online]. Available at: https://www.fpnsw.org.au/sites/default/files/assets/CONTRACEPTION%20CHOICES.pdf [Accessed 19 Apr 2018)
Western Australia Department of Health (2018) Emergency Contraception | Get the Facts. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.getthefacts.health.wa.gov.au/condoms-contraception/types-of-contraception/emergency-contraception. [Accessed 19 April 2018].
World Health Organization. 2018. WHO | Family planning/Contraception. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs351/en/. [Accessed 19 April 2018].
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