Contraception is widely available in the UK from various sources such as GPs, pharmacies, health clinics, supermarkets and other retailers. Contraception is free of charge for women on the NHS and some local schemes linked to GP practices provide free condoms for men and women aged between 13 to 35 years old.
For men the most common method is the male condom which not only is an effective method of contraception but also protects against sexually transmitted infections (STI’s). A more permanent and effective method for birth control is a Vasectomy.
For female contraception, there are a number of factors to think about such as age; social issues, finances and current health.
With regards to health issues the main factors to consider when choosing the right contraception method are the following:
There are lots of different options for female contraception available on the NHS, such as:
The contraceptive cap; combined pill; female condoms; contraceptive implant; contraceptive injection; contraceptive patch; diaphragms; intrauterine device (IUD); intrauterine system (IUS); natural family planning; progestogen-only pill; vaginal ring and female sterilization which is a permanent method.
When choosing what the right method is for you, there are number of things you should be aware of:
If unprotected sex has occurred or a contraceptive method has failed e.g. failed barrier method such as condom splitting, then emergency contraception is an option too. There are two kinds of emergency contraceptive pill. Levonelle® which has to be taken within 72 hours (three days) of sex which is widely available from your local pharmacy. And EllaOne®, which has to be taken within 120 hours (five days) of sex and is usually prescribed by a GP or prescribing nurse. Both pills work by preventing or delaying ovulation. There is also another option the IUD also known as “the coil” that can be inserted into your uterus up to five days after unprotected sex. It may stop an egg from being fertilized or implanting in your womb. The important thing to remember is that emergency contraception does not protect against sexually transmitted infections.
Please follow safe sex tips if you are having sex with ‘anonymous’, multiple sex partners or people who are risk of getting STIs. If you have any concerns or questions regarding contraception, please speak to you GP, local sexual health clinic or family planning clinic.