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Contraception is what we use during sex to prevent pregnancy. Check out the various contraceptive options here with details and advice on using each one...
Something we use to prevent pregnancy when we have sex.
Condoms are your best bet for protection against Sexually Transmitted Infections.
The male condom is a thin sheath of latex rubber or polyurethane that fits over a boy's erect penis. The female condom is made of polyurethane and loosely lines the girl's vagina. They block sperm from getting into the girl's vagina to stop her getting pregnant.
Full details are in our condom factfile.
The Pill is a tablet taken by a woman usually so that she can have sex without getting pregnant. Full details are in our Pill factfile.
Over 99% effective
Diaphragms are rubbery dish-shaped things to be inserted into the vagina. Caps are smaller versions. They fit over the cervix (entrance to the womb) blocking sperm. You use a spermicidal cream or gel too. If you want one, see your GP or family planning clinic who'll show you how to insert one, which you'll use every time you have sex. It sounds fiddly - but if you can put in a tampon, you can manage a diaphragm. Best of all, we only use it when we need it, it provides some protection against STIs and we don't have to remember to take tablets.
Also called a coil, this tiny plastic or copper device is inserted inside the womb. It stops fertilised eggs from sticking and implanting. This prevents a pregnancy. It can make periods heavier and more painful. It has to be inserted by a trained doctor. And it doesn't stop us getting STIs. But once it is in, that's it for 5 years - you don't have to think about contraception every day. Also a form of emergency contraception -effective when inserted up to 5 days after unprotected sex.
These work in a similar way to the progesterone-only Pill. With the injection, the hormone progesterone is injected into a woman's body and protects her from pregnancy for 8-12 weeks. With implants, a tiny tube containing progesterone is placed under the skin of the woman's arm, protecting her for three years. Injections and implants are good if we would prefer not to take tablets every day. They can make periods unpredictable, or go away altogether.
More than 99% effective
A woman only has sex on days she is less likely to get pregnant. She works this out with a diary of her menstrual cycle and taking her temperature. This works best for couples who wouldn't mind if they had a baby. Some people mistakenly think withdrawal - removing the penis before ejaculation (coming) - is a method of contraception. But it's extremely unreliable as sperm are released before ejaculation.
Natural (or rhythm) methods are not reliable and aren't recommended for young people.
REMEMBER: It's against the law in the UK to have sex if you're under 16. See the Age of Consent factfile for more information. But it is not against the law to ask for advice, information and contraception. So if you're thinking of having sex don't wait till you're legal before getting the contraception sorted.
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