Pill or implant? Condoms or coil? When it comes to contraceptives, there’s plenty of choices. So much so that it can all get a bit confusing – especially if you start listening to urban myths passed down by your besties. So tune out the noise and tune into what’s right for you and your body as we go back to basics and break down everything you need to know.
What Are Contraceptives?
Put in its simplest form (and according to NHS England), “contraception aims to prevent pregnancy”. It does this by either putting a barrier in the way of this happening, by blocking the sperm and egg from ever meeting (e.g. a condom). Or halting egg production/release (e.g. the contraceptive injection). Or sometimes stopping a fertilised egg from attaching to the womb’s lining (e.g. the coil).
Some contraceptives also protect against sexually transmitted diseases (STIs), but not all do. So, it’s important to know what each contraceptive is protecting you from to have sex safely and make informed choices.
How to Find The Right Contraceptive For You
There are multiple types of contraceptives out there, but you needn’t pick one and stick with it forever. More often than not, you’ll find yourself using different contraceptives at different phases of your life or as your lifestyle changes.
The best start to figuring out which one is right for you is to talk to your doctor or healthcare professional at your local family planning clinic as they can discuss options, guide you and put you on the right path.
You might want to consider your lifestyle and how likely you are to remember to take your contraception as part of your daily routine. For example, if you’re organised and trust yourself to remember to take your contraceptive every day, then the pill might be an option that works for you. But, if you prefer something with less maintenance, then a contraceptive used only when you’re having sex (e.g. a condom) or renewed less frequently (like a patch, coil or injection) might work better for you.
Whether you’re in a relationship or single, it’s always a good idea to discuss the contraceptive method openly with your partner so that every time you have sex, you both know how protected you are against pregnancy (as some contraceptives are more effective than others) and STIs.
From over-the-counter contraceptives to medically administered options, let’s take a look at some of the most talked-about methods.
They were handed out at your first sexual education class and are recommended as one of the most effective measures against pregnancy and STIs, yes we’re talking condoms.
You can get condoms for men and women, and they work by creating a barrier, preventing sperm from reaching the egg. When used correctly, they are 98% effective and also protect against STIs.
Now not all condoms are made the same. Some are made of latex, others non-latex. Some are ultra-thin, some tingle and others taste like your favourite fruit. Check out our ultimate guide to condoms to find out more.
Want a contraceptive that you don’t have to think about every day? The coil might be right for you. Known medically as an IUD (copper coil) or IUS (hormonal coil), both versions of the coil can protect against pregnancy for long stretches of time once medically inserted (we’re talking years: 5-10 years for IUD and 3-5 years for IUS).
An IUD is a small T-shaped plastic and copper device and it gets fitted into the uterus by a medical professional. It works by releasing copper into the womb, which alters your cervical mucus making it difficult for sperm to reach the egg and survive. It’s 99% effective but does not offer any protection against STIs so you should also consider using a condom if you’re unsure of your partner’s sexual health and want peace of mind.
An IUS is a similar device, but instead of releasing copper it releases the hormone progesterone into the womb and acts in the same way. It’s also 99% effective at preventing pregnancy, needs to be fitted by a medical professional and doesn’t protect against STIs.
While it should never be used as your first port of call, sometimes unprotected sex can happen or your usual contraceptive can fail you. If you want to reduce your chance of pregnancy after having unprotected, or suspected unprotected, sex then you can opt for the morning after pill.
This can be taken within 3 days (Levonelle) or 5 days (ellaOne) of unprotected sex for it to be effective and the sooner the better. They’re said to work by delaying or stopping ovulation. If you have any questions and want to know, chat to our in-store pharmacists.
Want to know more? Head over to our Superdrug Online Doctor who has the full low-down on methods of contraception or explore our range of contraceptives at Superdrug.com.