Contraception can be used to prevent pregnancy and some types will also protect you from sexually transmissible infections (STIs).
You might find yourself asking: Which method will be best for me and my lifestyle? Which method protects against STIs?
What about convenience of use? Possible side-effects? Cost? How effective will it be?
The condom is the only form of contraception that protects against most STIs as well as preventing pregnancy. This method of contraception can be used on demand, is hormone free and can easily be carried with you. And it comes in male and female varieties.
Male condoms are rolled onto an erect penis and act as a physical barrier, preventing sexual fluids from passing between people during sex. The female condom is placed into the vagina right before sex. Based on typical use, the female condom is not quite as effective as the male latex condom and it may take a little practice to get used to.
Pros include: It’s the best protection against STIs; can be used on demand; hormone free.
Cons include: It can tear or come off during sex if not used properly; some people are allergic to latex condoms.
THE ORAL CONTRACEPTIVE PILL
Taken once a day. The oral contraceptive pill is the most commonly reported method of contraception used by Australian women. There are a few different types of pill to choose from, so it’s about finding the one that’s right for you. The combined pill contains estrogen and progestin and mini pill contains only one hormone, a progestin. The pill can have many benefits, however remembering to take it on time is a must.
Pros of taking the pill include: Highly effective when used correctly; permits sexual spontaneity and doesn’t interrupt sex; some pills may even reduce heavy and painful periods and/or may have a positive effect on acne.
Cons include: Forgetting to take your pill means it won’t be as effective; it can only be used by women; is not suitable for women who can’t take oestrogen-containing contraception; it does not protect against STIs.
THE CONTRACEPTIVE IMPLANT
In this method, a small, flexible rod is placed under the skin in a woman’s upper arm, releasing a form of the hormone progesterone. The hormone stops the ovary releasing the egg and thickens the cervical mucus making it difficult for sperm to enter the womb. The implant requires a small procedure using local anesthetic to fit and remove the rod and needs to be replaced after three years.
Pros of the implant include: Highly effective; doesn’t interrupt sex; is a long-lasting, reversible contraceptive option.
Cons include: Requires a trained healthcare provider for insertion and removal; sometimes there can be irregular bleeding initially; does not protect against STIs.
THE CONTRACEPTIVE INJECTION
The injection contains a synthetic version of the hormone progestogen. It is given into a woman’s buttock or the upper arm, and over the next 12 weeks the hormone is slowly released into your bloodstream.
Pros: The injection lasts for up to three months; is very effective; permits sexual spontaneity and doesn’t interrupt sex.
Cons: The injection may cause disrupted periods or bleeding; it requires keeping track of the number of months used; itdoes not protect against STIs.