With the news that scientists are working on a number of new contraceptives for men, including the male pill, and a testosterone shot, we bring you a guide to the best available contraceptives.
By far the most common is the condom. The pros are that it is rated at 98 per cent effective, and it doesn’t involved remembering to take a pill, or having anything implanted into your skin. It also protects against STIs, which are a major problem in Britain at the moment.
The cons are that, even though they a rated at 98 per cent effective, human error usually brings that down to around 85 per cent. Always remember to put the condom on an erect penis and make sure there is no air in the condom as it may burst causing it to become ineffective.
Many females take the pill as it is over 99 per cent effective in stopping pregnancy. You take the combined pill once a day for 21 days and then stop for seven days when you will have a period-type bleed. As this is not a real period, one of the benefits is that women, who often experience period pain, usually find that it eases greatly when taking the combined pill.
The cons with the combined pill are that you have to remember to take it as instructed. Its effectiveness is greatly compromised if you miss a pill or the pill hasn’t been absorbed by your system (through vomiting or other illness). If you’re sick within 2 hours of taking your pill, take another straight away, if you are sick more than once or for longer than 24 hours then the pills effectiveness will have been compromised, so always use another type of Contraception.
Unlike the combined pill which contains oestrogen and progestogen, this pill only contains progestogen and is specifically designed for women who are overweight and suffer from high blood pressure and blood clots. This pill is also over 99 per cent effective and will make your periods lighter or stop them completely.
The cons are that if you’re sick, like the combined pill, it will not be as effective. It is crucial with this pill that you take it within the same three hours each day, or again, it will become ineffective. With both pills, it’s advised that you don’t stay on them for more than 20 years as they can cause a permanent hormone imbalance.
This is a small tube, about 40mm, which contains progestogen that is inserted by your doctor into your upper arm. It is over 99 per cent effective and is good for women who cannot take a contraceptive containing oestrogen, or who cannot remember to take a pill. It lasts for three years and is then replaced.
It will not affect your natural fertility, meaning that once you’ve had the implant removed, you will be able to get pregnant just as easily as you would have before the implant. It is good for women who know they do not want to get pregnant for a while, but if you change your mind, it can be removed at any time.
The cons are that it can make your periods irregular, lighter, heavier or longer. It can also stop your periods all together, making it very hard to know if you accidently become pregnant. It’s not harmful but it’s important to take regular pregnancy tests if your periods stop completely.
This is similar to the implant as it only contains progestogen and allows you not to have to think about taking a pill every day. It’s also good for women who don’t like the idea of having an implant, as this is just a simple injection. There are two types of injections, Depo-Provera, which lasts for 12 weeks, and Noristerat, which lasts for eight weeks.
The cons are that your periods may become irregular, heavier, lighter, longer or may even stop all together. There are quite a range of side effects with this one, including weight gain, headaches, mood swings, breast tenderness and irregular bleeding. If you do suffer from side effects, then they will continue for the duration of the injection as it cannot be reversed.
You will find that once you’ve stopped taking the contraceptive injections, your natural fertility will take around a year to return. Using Depo-Provera affects your natural oestrogen levels, which can cause thinning of the bones. This isn’t usually a problem for most women as once they stop taking the injection, the bone replaces itself. It can be a problem if you’re under 19 as your bone is still growing or if you have a history of osteoporosis, so consult your doctor before you think about having the injection.
There are 15 types of contraceptive, each different and suited to different people so it’s important to explore all options before making a final decision. Your doctor can advise you on what would be best for you factoring in your age, health, weight and preferences so consult your doctor before making your decision.
Remember to always use a condom during sex, even if you’re on the pill, implant or injection as they protect against STIs. Further information about all the contraceptives mentioned above, and more, can be found at nhs.uk.
Cara Mason @FemaleFirst_UK