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Short-acting Contraception

The methods of contraception described here have the advantage of being short acting and so your fertility will return to normal shortly after stopping them.

You must be pro-active in the use of these methods to ensure their effectiveness. Most methods do not provide protection against Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI’s). Male condoms are the best way to protect against infections including HIV.

Screening for STI’s is available at all contraception and sexual health clinics.

For more information on contraception and sexual health call 0845 155 0156

Condoms

What Is It?

Barrier method that the man or woman can use.

What are the advantages?

• Avoids hormones
• Offers protection against sexually transmitted infections

What are the disadvantages?

• Putting them on can involve interruption of intercourse
• The male condom can split or rupture if not used correctly
• The female condom can be pushed aside if not used correctly
• A new condom has to be used for each episode of intercourse (sex)
• Female condoms can make a rustling noise if there isn’t enough lubrication
• Failure can be higher when learning to use condoms or are not using them correctly

How efficient is it?

When used correctly, around 98% effective for male condoms and 95% for female condoms

Combined Pills

What Is It?

Tablet containing oestrogen and progestogen. Taken for 3 weeks every month.

What are the advantages?

• Useful for young healthy women who can reliably take pills
• Works mainly by preventing egg release

What are the disadvantages?

• Not suitable for women with conditions such as high blood pressure
• Not suitable for women over 35 who smoke
• Could be made less effective by diarrhoea or vomiting

How efficient is it?

At least 99% effective when used correctly

Vaginal Ring

What Is It?

Flexible ring which is placed inside the vagina for 3 weeks every month. Contains lowest daily dose of oestrogen and progestogen.

What are the advantages?

• Only needs to be replaced once a month
• No need to remember a daily pill
• Not affected by diarrhoea or vomiting

What are the disadvantages?

• Not suitable for women over 35 who smoke• Not suitable for women with conditions such as high blood pressure

How efficient is it?

At least 99% effective when used correctly.

Diaphragms/Caps

What Is It?

Barrier methods that you fit inside the vagina to cover the cervix.

What are the advantages?

• Useful for those who wish to avoid hormones

What are the disadvantages?

• Involves forward planning
• Can be messy as you need to use spermicide as well

How efficient is it?

Effective in 92 – 96% of women when correctly used. 

Patch

What Is It?

Patch containing oestrogen and progestogen.

What are the advantages?

• Applied once a week for 3 weeks each month

What are the disadvantages?

• May be seen on the skin
• Not suitable for women with conditions such as high blood pressure
• Unsuitable for women over 35 who smoke

How efficient is it?

At least 99% effective when used correctly

Progestogen-only Pills

What Is It?

Tablet containing only progestogen. Two types available.

What are the advantages?

• Suitable for women who do not want to or cannot take oestrogen

What are the disadvantages?

• Many women have changes in menstrual pattern

How efficient is it?

99% effective when used correctly

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