Which Contraceptive Is The Right Choice For You Right Now?

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With so many choices for sexual health, what’s best for you?

People take different forms of contraception for different reasons.

Some don’t want to hear the pitter patter of little feet, others want to stay protected from sexually transmitted infections and others take contraception as a method to control their hormones.

Finding the right contraceptive fit can be difficult, and thorough research before deciding on the right option is incredibly important.

Taking the time to consider the best contraceptive option can save time, money, pain, avoid negative side effects and protect against unwanted pregnancies and STIs.

Most people you know will have a horror story or two about a contraceptive method that’s gone from bad to worse. From artificial hormones wreaking havoc on natural hormones to surprise, unplanned pregnancies; there’s a lot that can go wrong.

Health centres can be visited discreetly to discuss sexual health, with many practices offering full bulk billing here in Australia.

Remember, it is also important to get regular sexual health tests, particularly between different sexual partners, to keep yourself and others healthy. It’s also not a bad idea to get tested once a year, even if you’re with one long term partner.

As a tip, combining some contraceptive methods, such as withdrawal method and the pill, significantly decreases the chance of pregnancy. 

Listed effectiveness rates show a range taking into account perfect and imperfect use of each method.

Here is a little quiz to help you decide which form of contraception is best for you, and read on to find out the pros, cons and more information of different options.

contraception-important for sexual health, couple in bed

Condoms

A physical latex (or non-latex) barrier that prevents sperm from entering the uterus. Condoms are 82-98% effective and are the best form of STI protection. Some people are allergic to latex and require non-latex condoms, which can be harder to access. Using condoms can be inconvenient, as they need to be put on prior to intercourse and this can be a reason people forget or choose not to use them in the moment.

Great for: short term contraception and STI protection

Contains: no hormones

Positives: can be conveniently carried by both male and female, protects against STIs, easily accessible, no script required,

Negatives: must be used every single time to be effective, can break, can be inconvenient to use during sex, some people have latex allergies 

Effectiveness rate: 82-98%

Female Condom

This device is a “femidom”, a non-latex pouch with a flexible ring at each end, that is placed inside the vagina before intercourse. This method is 95% effective when used correctly and every time during intercourse. It can be unpopular as it is bigger to carry around, less commonly stocked at chemists and supermarkers and takes practice to put in correctly.

Great for: short term contraception and STI protection

Contains: no hormones

Positives: protects against STIs, stronger than normal condoms, 95% effective

Negatives: can be difficult to put in correctly, can be difficult to buy

Effectiveness rate: 95%

The Oral Contraceptive Pill 

“The pill” is a commonly used form of contraception, and there are different kinds. It is a small pill that is taken once a day, at the same time each day to prevent pregnancy or treat hormonal issues. 

Doctors can prescribe it for patients after a consultation. For women who want to take the pill but cannot have oestrogen, the progesterone-only pill or the ‘mini-pill’ is an option.

Great for: easily reversible contraception

Contains: oestrogen, progesterone

Positives: can regulate hormones, easy to access

Negatives: must be taken everyday to be effective, needs a prescription from a healthcare professional, hormones can become disrupted resulting in a range of side effects

Effectiveness rate: 91-99.7% for both types 

Hormonal Intrauterine Device (IUD)

An IUD is a small device that releases hormones gradually and is inserted into the uterus by a trained healthcare professional. The regulation of hormones also means that unwanted menstrual can be reduced and even eliminated during use. Insertion can be done under varying forms of sedation, depending on the patient. 

It prevents pregnancy by thickening the mucous of the cervix which stops sperm from entering the uterus to fertilise the eggs.

Great for: long term contraception

Contains: progesterone

Positives: lasts 3-10 years, regulates hormones, low maintenance, can be used as emergency contraception

Negatives: a healthcare professional must insert and remove it, can have initial hormone disruption

Effectiveness rate: 99.8%

Copper IUD

Similar to the hormonal IUD, the copper IUD, known as “the coil” or “non-hormonal IUD”, is inserted by a medical professional and can last 5-10 years. Insertion can be done under varying forms of sedation, depending on the patient.

It prevents pregnancy by releasing low levels of copper molecules, preventing fertilised eggs from implanting in the wall of the uterus and also affecting sperm motility.

Great for: long term contraception without artificial hormones

Contains: no hormones

Positives: long lasting, low maintenance, can be used as emergency contraception

Negatives: needs a medical professional for insertion and removal, can be associated with worsening cramps and heavier periods

Effectiveness rate: 99.2%

couple sitting on a ledge

Natural Fertility Awareness-based method

Although not commonly promoted as a form of contraception, knowing your body and observing natural signs from the body can be used to avoid pregnancy. 

It is 75-99.6% effective, and this technique involves observing bodily changes such as temperature or cervical fluid are used to identify when a female is most fertile. An egg is only fertile for 24 hours each cycle and sperm can live for 3-5 days post ejaculation, but after ovulation, chance of pregnancy is extremely low. 

Charting ovulation and avoiding having intercourse during the fertile window each cycle can be used to effectively avoid pregnancy. 

Great for: contraception avoiding artificial hormones

Contains: no hormones

Positives: completely natural, no artificial or inconvenient forms of contraception, no cost

Negatives: can be unreliable, ovulation can vary and be affected by unexpected factors 

Effectiveness rate: 75-99.6%

Emergency Contraception Pill

This form of contraception, also known as ‘the morning after pill’ or “plan B” work by preventing an egg from being released and fertilised. This method is 85% effective if taken less than 3 days after intercourse.

Depending on the type will work up to five days after intercourse, but effectiveness drops with time passed after intercourse.

Great for: emergency contraception after unprotected sex

Contains: Levonorgestrel or ulipristal acetate or progesterone

Positives: easy to access, no script required, short acting, options without progesterone available

Negatives: time sensitive, can disrupt menstrual cycle

Effectiveness rate: 85%

Withdrawal Method

This method involves avoiding allowing the sperm to touch the genital area and “pulling out” the penis before the male ejaculates. Pre-ejaculate, liquid expelled from the penis before orgasm, can contain sperm, so even when this method is used perfectly, pregnancy can still occur.

Great for: spontaneous contraception

Contains: no hormones

Positives: easy to access, no cost, natural

Negatives: relatively high chance of pregnancy, must be done every time

Effectiveness rate: 78-96%

Contraceptive Ring

AKA the ring, the vaginal ring or the combined hormonal ring, this method prevents eggs being released from the ovaries and prevents sperm from entering the uterus. The ring is inserted into the vagina and removed by you and lasts three weeks before needing to be replaced.

Great for: medium term contraception

Contains: oestrogen and progesterone

Positives: easy to access, can regulate hormones, low maintenance

Negatives: may cause side effects, requires a script, some user action required

Effectiveness rate: 91-99.7%

Contraceptive Rod

AKA the rod, the bar, contraceptive implant, is a small rod that is inserted into the arm for protection against pregnancy for 3 years. It is also used for reduce unwanted menstrual symptoms and can eliminate periods during use.

Great for: long term contraception 

Contains: progesterone

Positives: low maintenance, long lasting, affordable, can regulate hormones

Negatives: side effects, medical professional needs to insert/remove it, some pain at insertion

Effectiveness rate: 99.9%

Injection

The contraceptive injection is a hormone injection that lasts 12 weeks to prevent pregnancy. After the initial jab, it takes 12 weeks to wear off, which means if you suffer from adverse side effects, you will need to wait 12 weeks for them to wear off. 

Great for: medium term contraception 

Contains: progesterone

Positives: easy to access, can regulate hormones, low maintenance

Negatives: possible side effects, once taken it cannot be reversed for 12 weeks, possible delay to return to fertility, some pain at insertion

Effectiveness rate: 94-99.8%

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Elise Elkerton

CONTRIBUTOR

You'll find Elise either at one of Sydney's stunning beaches or getting ready to hit a trendy bar with her girlfriends. Passionate about the environment and beauty, be ready for Elise to tell you how amazing plants are or what the latest beauty trends are and how to master them.

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