Today is World Contraception Day- a day that celebrates young people being able to make informed choices about their sexual health and improve their knowledge about contraception. Here we take you through the different forms of contraception so you can decide what's right for you.
The Pill- The pill is taken once a day and there are many types. The combined pill has both progesterone and oestrogen which prevents the ovaries from releasing eggs for fertilisation. It thickens the cervical mucus which stops the sperm from reaching the egg. The mini pill has one hormone- progestin- which offers another option if you are negatively affected by oestrogen.
You should swallow the pill at the same time every day whether you are having sex or not. Ask your doctor if the combined pill is best for you or not based on your medical history.
IUS- The IUS is a small and soft T-shaped device with a reservoir that contains progestin. It is placed in the womb by a doctor and releases low doses of progestin into the womb. This makes the mucus in the cervix thicker which in turn makes it more difficult for the sperm to move around and reach the egg and makes the lining of the uterus thinner. Its 99.8% effective and ideal for women who are forgetful at taking the pill. Do consult your doctor before opting for this method as there are some risk factors involved.
Male Condom- This is one of the most common forms of contraception- they are both easy to use, cheap and protects you against unwanted STIs. They catch the sperm that is released and stop it from entering the vagina. The sperm is caught in a reservoir at the tip preventing it from reaching the vagina. They are the only form of contraception to protect you against both STDs and pregnancy. You must use one every time you have sex in order for it to be effective against both.
Contraceptive Patch- This patch looks like a plaster; it sticks to the skin and releases hormones to stop the ovaries releasing eggs and thickens the cervical mucus to stop the sperm from reaching the egg. It is visible once placed on the skin.
Contraceptive Ring- This ring looks like a bracelet and elastic band all rolled into one. It's simple, clear and flexible. Made from polythene vinyl acetate, it's inserted into the vagina and releases hormones into the body to prevent the ovaries from releasing eggs. Again it thickens the cervical mucus which prevents the sperm from reaching the egg. It remains in the vagina for 3 weeks before it's replaced.
Contraceptive Implant- This is about the same size as a matchstick and placed just underneath the skin in your upper arm. It releases progestin in small doses from a reservoir into your bloodstream. It allows the ovaries to keep releasing eggs but makes the mucus of the cervix thicker so the sperm find it difficult to reach to eggs.
Contraceptive Injection- This is an injection containing hormones that prevents the body from releasing an egg and increases the thickness of the mucus in the cervix. You need to have one shot every month or every three months from your doctor. Once it is in your system it is not reversible so any side effects cannot be stopped. You don't have to remember to take it every day, however if you are frightened of needles then this is probably not one for you.
Intrauterine Device- Its name means 'inside the uterus'- a t-shaped device that has a copper thread or cylinders that are placed in your uterus by a doctor. It releases copper ions which reduce the sperm's movement and make it harder for them to reach an egg. If the sperm does get through, the copper stops the egg from implanting itself into the lining as well. It can remain in place for 5-10 years.
Female Condom- Like the male condom where it's slipped on the penis, this is simply slipped into the vagina. Whoever wears the condom- there is a sheath that acts as a barrier between the sperm and where it needs to go to fertilize and egg. It must be used every time you have sex to prevent pregnancy.
Diaphragm- This is simple and looks like a tiny hat- its purpose is to stop the sperm from getting anywhere near the uterus. The disc, which is dome shaped is made from latex rubber or silicone. It is inserted into the vagina to put a barrier in place between the sperm and entrance to the womb. Your doctor will fit it first to find the right size for you.
Fertility Awareness- This is where you work out in your menstrual cycle when you are fertile and when you aren't. You can tell this from your temperature and the changes in your cervical mucus. Changes in your cycle can be affected by so many things that this is not for the forgetful or the spontaneous woman.
Cervical Cap- The cervical cap is much like a plug- it is inserted into the vagina until it covers the cervix. It is made from latex or silicone with a round rim. It is smaller than a diaphragm. Your doctor needs to insert it initially to make sure the size is right for you. It may not be suitable for women who have given birth as the vagina and cervix stretch so it might not fit as well as before you had children. It should always be used with a spermicide.
Sponge- This is a small disk shaped piece of foam. It has a dimple and a strap which is placed over the cervix. It is made of polyurethane and releases hormones constantly to keep you protected against pregnancy for around 24 hours.
Spermicides- Spermicides are not impactful on their own and should never be used alone. They are designed to be used with a diaphragm, cervical cap or condom. They come in pastes, foams, films and other forms and make the environment difficult for sperm to move around in.
Withdrawal Method- Also known as the 'pull out method'- it is less scientific and more about self-control. The man takes his penis out of the vagina before he ejaculates so the sperm can't reach the vagina. Not all sperm is released at climax and some are released before so even if he does pull out, some could still have reached the vagina and cause pregnancy.
Emergency Contraceptives- Also known as the 'morning after pill'. These pills have hormones in them that are higher than that of a normal pill. It stops or delays the ovaries from releasing an egg and changes the lining of the womb to prevent the egg being able to be implanted. You should take it as soon after you have had unprotected sex for it to have the best chance of working. Ideally- a minimum of 12 hours after and continue with another form of contraception.
To learn more about contraceptives- visit our HealthClinic.