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Contraception

A condom and pill packet against a denim background
If you don't want to be a Daddy/Mummy just yet, there are ways to stop this from happening. But some ways are better than others!
  • Not having sex - or abstinence - totally reliable - stick with it as long as you can.
Otherwise if you are going to have sex then use some kind of contraception, otherwise known as birth control, such as:
  • Putting something in the sperm's way like condoms. Good if you have to have sex - and also helps to stop you getting nasty bugs or sexually transmitted diseases like AIDS whilst having sex.
  • Making sure the woman's egg or 'ovum' doesn't work - the combined pill- great as long as you remember to take the pills, and even better if you use it with condoms. Works by stopping ovulation - stops any eggs being released. You take it every day for 21 days then have a week break. Failure rate less than 1%. Helps to regulate bleeding patterns, reduces pain, reduces risk of ovarian cancer, womb cancer and colon cancer. There is a slightl increased risk of breast cancer but risk goes back to normal after you stop using the pill. Slightly increases risks of blood clots in the legs and strokes but overall risk still very small for most healthy women. Some conventional medicines, such as antibiotics and alternative medicines, such as St John's wort, can interact with it.
  • Making it more difficult for the sperm to get through to the egg and make sure the egg doesn't work - the progestogen-only pill - not quite so safe as the combined pill. The failure rate of this pill varies and can be less than 1% when used correctly. You take it continually, with no break. No increased risk of breast cancer or stroke or clots. Bleeding patterns can be irregular and can affect mood and acne. Must be taken at same time every day. Can be affected by other medicines.
  • The intra-uterine device or intra-uterine system- small plastic tube that can be inserted into the womb via a vaginal examination. Takes 5 minutes to put in and lasts for between 5 to 10 years depending on the device. Low failure rate- between 1-2%. No delay in return to fertility when it is taken out. Can alter bleeding patterns. Small risk of infection when inserted. Small risk of perforation and expulsion. Not affected by other medicines.
  • The implant - progestogen only - a small plastic tube is put under the skin in your arm. Takes 5 minutes to put in. Lasts for 3 years. Failure rate less than 1%. No delay in returning to fertility when taken out. Can alter bleeding patterns and can affect acne. Some medicines do interact with it
  • The progestogen only injection. Takes less than a minute to have. Taken every 12 weeks. Usually into your arm or upper part of leg. Failure rate less than 1%. Slight delay in fertility when stopping of up to 1 year. Can alter weight gain and bleeding pattern. Can reduce bone thickness but not enough to cause broken bones and goes back to normal when stopped. Not affected by other medicines.
  • Contraceptive ring - this is a new product. Ring is inserted into your vagina for 3 weeks of every cycle and then you have 1 week without it. Awaiting more information.
  • Contraceptive patch - new product. You wear the patch for 3 weeks then have 1 week without it. Awaiting more information.
  • Don't have sex when the woman is releasing an egg - the rhythm method or safe period or some people rely on the man withdrawing just before he comes- otherwise known as coitus interruptus - both lousy - don't risk it, but better than nothing.
  • Putting other barriers in the sperms way - like the cap/diaphragm - not popular amongst the young as a bit messy and has to be thought about well ahead of having sex.
  • Emergency Contraception Pills: these pills contain progesterone hormones, which stop any fertilised egg from settling into the wall of the uterus(womb) and developing into a baby. Works best if taken within 72 hours of having had unprotected sex.
  • Emergency intra-uterine device - small plastic tube put inside the womb via the vagina which stops the fertilised egg settling into the wall of the womb. Works for up to 5 days after unprotected sex.
  • If all else goes wrong you can consider whether you should have an abortion or not.

For more information go to www.fpa.org.uk or www.youthhealthtalk.org