Contraceptive Options

This brochure provides a brief summary of the methods of contraception. A detailed brochure is available for each of the methods.

On this page

  • How effective is contraception?
  • What are the different methods of contraception?
  • Learn more
  • References

All contraception methods listed below are effective. However, no method is 100% reliable. The reliability of each method is given in percentages. For example, the contraceptive injection is more than 99% effective. This means that less than 1 in 100 women will get pregnant each year using this method of contraception. When using any method of contraception, more than 80 of every 100 sexually active women become pregnant in a year.

The effectiveness of some methods depends on how to use them. You have to use properly or not work as well. For example, the combined oral contraceptive pill (COCP) – often referred to as "the pill" – is more than 99% effective if taken correctly. However, if you miss a pill or vomiting then becomes less effective. Other user-dependent methods include barrier methods, the progestogen-only pill (POP) and natural family planning.

Some methods are not as dependent on the user and must be renewed infrequently or never. These methods include the contraceptive injection, contraceptive implants, intrauterine contraceptive devices (IUCDs) – also known as "coils" – and sterilization.

Compare contraceptive options to help making A Brief.

When choosing a contraceptive method that you need to think about:

  • How effective is.
  • Possible risks and side effects.
  • Plans for future pregnancies.
  • Personal preference.
  • If you have a medical condition or are taking medicines that interact with the method.

Combined oral contraceptive pill (COCP)

This is often just called the pill. About 1 in 300 women using the pill correctly, become pregnant each year. It contains estrogen and progestogen and works mainly in egg production stop (ovulation). Is very popular. Different brands fit different people.

  • Some advantages – is very effective. Side effects are rare. Helps relieve painful periods and heavy. This reduces the possibility of some cancers.
  • Some disadvantages – there is a small risk of serious problems (eg, blood clots). Some women have side effects. You must remember to take it. It can not be used by women with certain medical conditions, such as uncontrolled high blood pressure.

Progestogen-only pill (POP)

This used to be called the "mini-pill". It contains only a progestin. Is usually taken if the COCP is not suitable, for example, breastfeeding women, smokers over 35 years and some women with migraine. It works primarily by causing a mucus plug in the cervix (cervix) that blocks sperm. It also thins the uterine lining, making it less likely that the egg from implanting. One type (Cerazette ®) stops ovulation. This makes it extremely effective if used properly. Less than 1 in 300 women in the use Cerazette ® get pregnant each year. The oldest type of POP is not as effective. About 1 in 200 women will become pregnant.

  • Some advantages – lower risk of severe problems COCP.
  • Some disadvantages – periods become irregular. Some women have side effects. Most guys are not as reliable as the COCP.

Contraceptive Patch

It contains the same hormones as the COCP, but as a patch. If used correctly, less than 1 in 300 women become pregnant using. The contraceptive patch is stuck to the skin so that the two hormones are continuously delivered to the body. There is a combined contraceptive patch available in the UK, called Evra ®.

  • Some advantages – is very effective and easy to use. You do not have to remember to take a pill every day. Your periods are often lighter, less painful and more regular basis. If you have vomiting or diarrhea, the contraceptive patch remains effective.
  • Some disadvantages – Some women have skin irritation. Despite its discreet design, some women still feel that the contraceptive patch can be seen.

Contraceptive vaginal ring

This also contains the same hormones as the COCP. These hormones have effects on your body that keep you from getting pregnant. It is a flexible, see through ring which is little more than 5 cm in diameter. It is found in the vagina for three weeks and then have one week without him. After exactly one week, you put a new ring in the vagina. It is almost as effective in preventing pregnancy as the COCP.

  • Some of the advantages – it is efficient and easy to use. You do not have to remember to take a pill every day. If you have vomiting or diarrhea, the contraceptive vaginal ring is still effective. Your periods are very regular.
  • Some disadvantages – some women (and their partners) feel during sex. It can irritate the vagina and cause pain or discharge.

Barrier methods

These include male condoms, female condoms, diaphragms and caps. Prevent sperm from entering the uterus. If used correctly, about 2 out of every 100 women will become pregnant. Other barrier methods are slightly less effective than this.

  • Some advantages – no serious medical risks or side effects. Condoms help protect against sexually transmitted infections. Condoms are widely available.
  • Some disadvantages – are not as reliable as other methods. Must be used correctly every time you have sex. Male condoms occasionally break or exit.

Contraceptive injections (eg, Depo-Provera ® and Noristerat)

These contain a progestogen which slowly released into the body. It is very effective. Less than 4 in 1,000 women become pregnant using it after two years. It inhibits ovulation and also has actions similar to those of POP. A shot is needed every 8-12 weeks.

  • Some advantages – is very effective. You do not have to remember to take pills.
  • Some disadvantages – Periods may be irregular (but often lighter or stop altogether). After the stop, there may be a delay in returning to normal fertility for several months. Some women have side effects. You can not undo the injection, so if side effects may persist for more than 8-12 weeks.

Contraceptive implants (eg Nexplanon ®)

An implant is a small device that is placed underneath the skin. Contains a progestin hormone is slowly released in the body. Less than 1 in 1,000 women using the implant become pregnant each year. It works in a manner similar to contraceptive injection. This is a small minor operation under local anesthesia. Each has a duration of three years.

  • Some advantages – is very effective. You do not have to remember to take pills.
  • Some disadvantages – Periods may be irregular (but often lighter or stop all together). Some women have side effects, but these tend to settle down after the first few months.

Intrauterine contraceptive device (IUD)

A device of plastic and copper is introduced into the uterus. It lasts for five years or more. Less than 2 in 100 women will become pregnant with five years of using this method. It works mainly by preventing the egg and sperm unite. You can also prevent the fertilized egg from implanting in the uterine lining. Copper also has a spermicidal effect (kills sperm).

  • Some advantages – is very effective. You do not have to remember to take pills.
  • Some disadvantages – Your periods may become heavier or more painful. There is a small risk of serious problems.

Hormone-releasing intrauterine system (IUS)

A plastic device containing a progestin hormone is placed in the uterus. The progestogen is released at a slow but steady. Less than 1 in 100 women will become pregnant with 5 years of using this method. It works by making the lining of the womb thinner so it is less likely to accept a fertilized egg. It also thickens the mucus from your cervix. It is also used to treat heavy periods (menorrhagia).

  • Some advantages – is very effective. You do not have to remember to take pills. Periods become light or stop altogether.
  • Some disadvantages – Side effects may occur with progestogen methods such as POP, implant or injection. However, they are much less likely, as little hormone enters the bloodstream.

Natural methods

This implies fertility awareness. Between 1 and 9 per 100 women will become pregnant using this method. It requires commitment and regular checking of fertility indicators such as body temperature and cervical secretions.

  • Some advantages – No side effects or medical risks.
  • Some disadvantages – not as reliable as other methods. Fertility awareness requires proper instruction and takes 3-6 menstrual cycles to learn properly.

The lactational amenorrhea method is suitable for the first six months after having a baby if you are breastfeeding only and have no point. 2 out of 100 women who conceive within six months using this method.


This implies an operation. It is very effective, but this can vary from surgeon to surgeon. Vasectomy (male sterilization) keeps sperm travel from the testicles. Female sterilization prevents the egg from traveling along the fallopian tube to meet the sperm. Vasectomy is easier because it can be performed under local anesthesia. These methods are often used when your family is complete. You must be sure of his decision, as they are difficult to reverse.

  • Some advantages – is very effective. You do not have to think about contraception.
  • Some disadvantages – it is very difficult to reverse. Female sterilization usually requires a general anesthetic.

Emergency contraception

This can be used if you have had sex without using contraception. Or, if you have had sex, but there was a mistake with contraception. For example, a broken condom or if you missed taking regular birth control pills.

  • Emergency contraceptive pills – usually very effective when started within 72 hours of unprotected sex. The emergency contraceptive pill can be bought in pharmacies or prescribed by a doctor. It works either by preventing or delaying ovulation or preventing the fertilized egg settles in the uterus.
  • An IUD – this is inserted by a doctor or nurse and can be used for emergency contraception up to five days after unprotected sex.

This booklet is a brief overview of each contraceptive method. All these methods have their own detailed prospectus for more information. Or you can ask your nurse, doctor or pharmacist if you want more detailed information on any of these methods.

The FPA (formerly the Family Planning Association) also provides information and advice.
FPA helpline: 0845 310 1334 or visit their website