4 questions to ask yourself when choosing contraception

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With 15 types of contraception available, knowing which method to choose can be a tricky task.  After all, there is a whole host of factors to consider when choosing a contraceptive, including your health, lifestyle and personal preferences. If you want to find out more about your options, it’s a good idea to consult a healthcare practitioner who will be able to offer you professional advice on which method is most suitable for you.

Most contraception is available from a GP or a sexual health clinic, while some contraceptives, such as the pill, rings and patches, are obtainable from online services, such as LLoydsPharamacy Online Doctor. However, before you make a decision, here are a few important questions you may want to ask.

1. How effective is each method?

Contraception methods that are 99 per cent effective include the injection, implant, intrauterine system (IUS), intrauterine device (IUD) and female and male sterilisation. The contraceptive patch, vaginal ring, combined pill, progestogen-only pill and natural family planning techniques are also 99 per cent effective, if used correctly.

The male condom is 98 per cent effective, while the female condom is 95 per cent effective. It is also worth bearing in mind that the condom is the only method of contraception that acts as a barrier against sexually transmitted infections.

The diaphragm with spermicide and the cap with spermicide are both 92-96 per cent effective.

2. How easy is it to incorporate into your daily life?

If you have a consistent routine and are well organised, most contraceptives will be easy to incorporate into your daily routine. The pill is the most widely used method of contraception, and to ensure you are using it effectively, you will need to take it at a similar time everyday.

However, if you are someone who is likely to forget taking a pill every day, it may be worthwhile to consider using a method that lasts for a long period of time. For example, the implant will last for up to three years, while the IUS and IUD can last for up to five years.  You may also want to consider using contraception that does not require advanced preparation, such as a condom or diaphragm.

3. How does my health limit my options?

Some health conditions may restrict what type of contraception you can use. Contraception that contains oestrogen, for example, is unsuitable for women who are severely overweight, over 35 and smoke or have certain health conditions, such as high blood pressure or migraines with aura. However, there are plenty of other options for women who can’t use contraception with oestrogen, including the progestogen-only pill.

Some contraceptives may also be affected by certain medicines. Again, there is a wealth of alternative methods, including the IUD, the injection, the diaphragm and male and female condoms.

If you suffer from a health condition, it’s important to seek medical advice before starting a new method of birth control.

4. What are my reasons?

While contraception is most commonly used to prevent unwanted pregnancy, many women use it for other reasons. If you want to clear up acne or reduce hair growth, contraceptive pills that contain oestrogen can help, while low-dose estrogen pills can provide relief from Premenstrual Syndrome. The combined pill can also help to make your periods lighter and more regular.

To find out which type of pill will suit your individual needs, try browsing the web for further information or consult a healthcare professional.

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