Learning All About Birth Control: More Than Just The Pill.

There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ or ‘best method’ when it comes to birth control, as every women’s bodies and experiences are different, which is why it is so important to alway consult your GP when it comes to deciding which method will work best for you and your lifestyle.

Here’s a quick run down of the different types of birth control, from low-mainenance patches to the copper coil, so when our ready for a sit down with you GP or practice nurse you’ll be all clued up on the pregnancy prevention possibilities. 

IUD (Intratuterine Device)/Copper Coil

IUD (often known as the coil) is a small T-shaped device that is inserted through your cervix into the uterus. The way it works is by producing an inflammatory reaction to interfere with the sperm, preventing pregnancy. 

It’s hormone-free, meaning there is none of the common side effects you can experience on the pill, plus it works immediately and can last for upto five-ten years. So if you are wanting it for longevity and convenience purposes, then this is  great especially if you usually forget. 

white plastic tool

The Implant

The contraceptive implant (Nexplanon) is a thin flexable rod – around the same size as a matchstick – it’s placed underneath the skin in the upper arm. A hormone called progestogen is released to prevent sperm from reaching the egg and inhibit ovulation, preventing you from getting pregnant.

Are you someone who doesn’t like the responisbility or find it hard and a lot of hassel to remember to take a pill everyday? Well the implant can last for up to three years before needing to be replaced (but can be removed at anytime) and is more than 99% effective. It’s a reliable form of birth control and it’s especially convenient for women who can’t use oestrogen-based contraception. 

It gets to work soon after it’s put in, for some it’s straight away but that does depend on where you are in ou cycle, most medical advice syas that it can take seven days before it’s reliable, so alway make sure to use alternative method of contraception in the interim. 

Some of the side affects that are associated with the implant, very similar to most other forms of contraception including, irregular periods or absence of menstruation (amenorrhea), headaches, mood swings, weighht gain and decreased sex drive. 

Contraceptive Pill

The combined pill, most referred to as just the pill – contains synthetic vension of the hormones oestragen and progesterone, there are produced naturally in the ovaries. 

The monophasic or single-pharse is the most commonly precribed pill. This pill either comes in 21-day or 28-day formulation. Women who are taking the 21-day formulation would have 21 days of active hormones followed by seven day without pills. Whereas, those who have the 28-day pack will have 21 days of active hormones and placebo pill with inactive ingredients for 7 days. In both cases, the 7 days break is when the menstruation occurs. Microgynon and Yasmin are examples of this types of pill.

oral contraceptive pill on blue panel

The multi-phasic pills provide different strengths of hormones and are designed to be taken at specific time throughout the course of each pill pack. The mini pill is a progestin only pill – a great opition for anyone who is either breastfeeding or can’t use oestrogen-based contraception for health/other reasons – as is taken everyday without a 7 day break. 

When the pill is taken correctly at the same time everyday and with food, it’s over 99% effective, however if you either miss a pill, vomit or have diarrhoea then you are not protected and have higher chance of becoming pregnant.

IUS (Intrauterine System)

Very similar to IUD, the IUS is a flexible T-shaped plastic device that’s inserted into the womb. The hormone progesterone thicken the mucus in the neck of the womb, therefore preventing sperm from reaching the egg. It also makes the lining thinner, so a fertilised egg is less likely to implant itself.

It can last three to five years depending on the brand. If it’s been fitted within the first seven days of you cycle, you’ll be protected immediately, but at other time make sure to use additional contraception such as, condom for a week afterwards.

It is very common to feel period-like cramping afterwards and the discomfort will ease with pain relief. 

Remember to check your IUS is still in place regularly during the first month and after each period. If your unable to feel the thread or think it may have moved, you won’t be protected against pregnancy. So make sure to see your GP and use additional contraception in the meantime.

IUS can be used to manage severe period symptoms, endometriosis and chronic pelvic pain. 

Contraceptive Injection (Depo-Provera)

This injection releases progestogen into the bloodstream in order to prevent ovulation. The injection called depo-provera, is the most common type given in the UK and lasts for around 13 weeks. But there is also another one called Noristerat, which lasts for for eight weeks. 

As with many other methods of birth control, if you happen to have it in the first five days of your cycle, you’ll be protected immediately. Whereas any other day of your cycle, you’ll need to use additional concraception  for seven days. 

white plastic tube on blue surface

Vaginal Ring 

It’s called NuvaRing, that’s a small flexible ring which is placed inside the vagina. A continuous dose of oestrogen and progestogen in order to prevent pregnancy. One of the main benefits of the vaginal ring, compared to the pill is that it still works regardless of sickness or diarrhoea. Your wear the ring for 21 days, then take it out for a seven-day interval during this time you’re still protected against pregnancy. After the seventth day, put a new ring in (set a reminder on you phone so you don’t forget).

round clear component

It’s totally fine to use tampons and having sex when the ring is in – out might be able to feel the ring during sex, but there is nothing to worry about. 

Birth Control Patch (Evara)

The patch is – called Evra in the – it’s releases oetrogen and progestogen through the skin into the bloodstream ad prevent pregnancy. The path are small and lasts for one week, you will need a new patch every week for three weeks and then on the fourth week it will be patch-free. During the patch-free week you may experience period-like withdrawal bleeding, although this isn’t alway the case. 

square brown tissue and white paper pack

It’s very similar to the vaginal ring, where you don’t have to think about it everyday as you can wear it swimming, the the shower or while playing sports. It’s also effective when you have diarrhoea and sickness. The only downside really is that it’s visble, but if that doesn’t bother you then it’s a pretty good all-rounder. 


The condom is the only form of contraception that protects against sexually transmitted infection (STIs) and against pregnancy. It is an external barrier method of contraception made from a thin latex rubber and worn on an erect penis to prevent pregnancy. They’re readily available and comes in a variet of shapes and sizes. 

condom packs

It’s good to remember that if you’re using latex condoms, then don’t use oil-based lubricant as it can damage the condom and cause it to spilt more easily. 

These are the most common types of condoms:

– Textured condoms

– Flavoured condoms

– Latex condoms

– Latex-free condoms

– Lubricated condoms 

Cervical Cap/Contraceptive Diaphragm 

The cap is  barrier method of contraception that is used in conjunction with spermicide – a gel used to kill sperm.

Unlike the vaginal ring, the soft silicone dome fits inside the vagina and covers the cervix, preventing sperm from reaching the uterus to fertilise an egg.

pink balloon

This form of contraception isn’t the most popular or effective (92%-96%) due to it relying on you wearing it correctl – it can take sometime to learn how to use it, but one advantage is you only have to wear it during sex. However you will have to keep it in for six hours after the last time you had sex.

If you had sex three hours after putting it in, you will need to add extra spermicide. 

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