Things to Consider When Choosing the Right Contraception for You

In the UK, there are 15 different contraception options to choose from. Which kind will work best for you depends on a number of factors, so it can be difficult to figure out which one to use. Consider the following questions to get started on making the decision. Talk to your GP if you need some guidance.

Choosing the Right Contraception for You


What are Your Options?

Many of these options differ in terms of how effective they are, how long they last, and how you use them correctly. In each case the percentages only apply when the method is used correctly.

99% Effective:

  • Contraceptive implant (up to 3 years)
  • Intrauterine system (IUS, up to 5 years)
  • Intrauterine device (IUD, up to 5 to 10 years)
  • Female sterilisation (permanent)
  • Male sterilisation or vasectomy (permanent)
  • Natural family planning

98% Effective:

  • Male condom

95% to 99% Effective:

  • Contraceptive injection (every 8 to 12 weeks)
  • Combined pill (taken every day)
  • Progestogen-only pill (taken every day)
  • Contraceptive patch (renewed weekly)
  • Vaginal ring (renewed monthly)

95% Effective:

  • Female condom

92% to 96% Effective:

  • Diaphragm with spermicide (every time you have sex)
  • Cap with spermicide (every time you have sex)

Can You Use Contraception Consistently?

One of the most important things to consider when choosing a contraception method is whether you can consistently make it part of your routine. If you think you’re likely to forget to take pills, or forgot to use a condom in the heat of the moment, rule these methods out.

If you’re generally a well-organised person with a consistent routine, these options are more viable.

Do You Want to Use Contraception As-Needed?

If you prefer a method that you only have to use when you have sex, consider the male or female condom, diaphragm, or cap. All are at least 92% effective when used correctly, and can be combined for greater protection.

Do You Prefer Long-Term Protection?

Some people prefer contraception that lasts a long time. Methods such as the IUS, IUD, and implant are good options here. Sterilisation may be an option if you know you don’t want children, or if you’ve had all the children you want to.

These long-term methods require insertion or implantation by a health professional. In the case of sterilisation, a surgical procedure is required.

Are You in Good Health?

In some cases, one or more options may be ruled out depending on your health or lifestyle. For instance:

  • Smokers who are over 35 are generally not suitable for the combined pill or patch, but can use an IUD, IUS, or implant.
  • The contraceptive injection can cause weight gain when used long-term. If you’re overweight, you may decide to avoid this option.
  • Oestrogen-containing contraception isn’t suitable for people who are very overweight, who have poor blood circulation or migraines, or who take certain medications.

Do You Want to Get Pregnant in Future?

If you hope to get pregnant in the near future, it’s important to choose a contraceptive method that’s easy to stop using. All methods, barring sterilisation, are reversable. However, some methods may alter your fertility for a time, even after you stop using them.

The methods that are least likely to interfere with fertility include the IUD, IUS, implant, progestogen-only pill, diaphragm, cap, and condoms.

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