It’s time to debunk the myths and mysteries surrounding contraceptives and take control of your own fertility.

Choosing the best contraception for you can be confusing. With such a massive array of options now available and an even wider range of health implications to consider, it’s hard to know what’s right for you.

Dr. Caroline Cooper, a women’s health specialist working in contraception and sexual health clinics, believes it’s important to discuss your options regularly with your nurse ore contraception clinic. ‘Having a choice of different types of contraception to suit different stages of your life is important,’ says Dr. Cooper. Whether you’re single or planning a family, it’s an important decision.

Description: Contraception_Clinic:_What_does_it_for_you?

Use our easy-to-follow no-nonsense guide to explore all the options and decide if it’s time you made a change.

Short-acting contraceptives

Combined Pill

Oestrogen and progestogen stop ovulation, thicken cervical mucus and thin the lining of the womb.

Pros: As well as making your periods lighter, more regular and less painful, the Pill can reduce your risk of cancer of the ovaries, uterus and colon. It can also be taken until the menopause by healthy non-smokers.

Cons: Your risk of cervical and breast cancer, as well as blood clots, could increase. Side effects such as headaches, mood swings, nausea and breast tenderness are also quite common in those who take it, and it can also stop working if you’re talking certain medicines, or are sick or suffering from diarrhea.


Male and female condoms prevents sperm from entering the woman’s body altogether.

Pros: With no side effects and protection from sexually transmitted infections, condoms are a great choice if you aren’t in a long-term relationship.

Cons: There is a small risk that a condom might split; if it does, seek emergency contraception Remember that the man must withdraw straight after sex if you’re using a male condom and if you’re using a female condom, it’s important to make sure the penis actually enters it.

Progestogen-only Pill

This Pill works in the same way as the combined Pill, but only contains the hormone progestogen.

Pros: It’s suitable for women over 35 who smoke, mothers who are breastfeeding and those who can’t take oestrogen.

Cons: It has to be taken at the same time every day: taking it over three hours late will render it ineffective, as will certain medicines, sickness and diarrhea. Common side effects include spotty skin, breast tenderness, weight change, headaches and infrequent or more frequent periods.

More short-term options

Patch: These weekly patches can make your periods more regular, lighter and less painful (great!), but you could suffer headaches, nausea, mood swings, breast soreness and skin reactions.

Vaginal ring: This hormone-releasing ring is inserted into your vagina. Temporary side effects include initial breakthrough bleeding, increased vaginal discharge, nausea and breast tenderness.

Diaphragm: Cystitis is a common side effect of this silicone cap and it has to be left in for six hours after intercourse.

Long-acting contraceptives


Progestogen is injected into the body, which stops ovulation, thickens cervical mucus and thins the lining the the womb.

Pros: Each injection lasts for eight or 12 weeks, depending on which one you go for. It’s a good bet if you think you might forget to take your pill or of you can’t use contraception that contains oestrogen. And, it doesn’t stop working if you’re taking other medicines or suffering from vomiting and diarrhea, unlike most others.

Cons: Once the hormone is injected, any side effects have to be endured for the length of the contraceptive protection. Your periods may stop, become irregular or last longer than normal, and it may take time for your menstrual cycle and fertility to return to normal.


A small rod is implanted into the upper arm, which releases progestogen and works in the same way as the injection.

Pros: You can have the implant put in place by your doctor or at a sexual health clinic. The rod can stay in your arm for three years, but you do have the option to get it removed earlier if you want to. Your fertility should return to normal straight away once removed.

Cons: A small procedure is required to put the implant in place. It might make your periods longer or affect their regularity, or it could make them stop completely, plus other medicines could interfere with is protection. Unfortunately, acne is also a common side effect.


The intrauterine system (IUS) and the intrauterine device (IUD) are inserted into the uterus, and release progestogen.

Pros: The IUS can stay in place for up to five years and the IUD for five to 10 years, but both can be removed before that time’s up. Your periods will become much lighter, shorter and less painful than usual with the IUS. Neither stop working when taking other medicines.

Cons: The insertion of both the IUS and the IUD can be quite uncomfortable and during the first 20 days after it’s been inserted there is a small chance of infection. In contrast to the IUS, the IUD can actually make your periods heavier, longer and more painful.

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