There are so many options for contraception these days. It is one of the reasons why we don’t see such large families like we might have done pre 1960 when contraception was taboo. In 1961 the contraceptive pill was offered on the NHS, but to married women only.
Today, whether you are married or not, you have free NHS access to the coil (IUS, IUD), pill, condoms, implant, injection, patch and more. There is also natural family planning, which is free to all too without the need of a prescription.
With so many options you might be wondering which is right for you. We always suggest that you chat with your GP, but if you are in the early stages of learning about them, hopefully our pros and cons of different contraception can help you.
We have interviewed some ladies to find out the pros and cons of different types of contraception to hopefully give you a little insight into what might be right for you.
The combined pill / mini pill
The combined pill or mini pill is still the most popular form of contraception here in the UK. Studies have shown that 9 out of 10 women offered contraception will take the pill over other methods.
Standard practice for taking the pill is to take it for 21 days, then allow yourself a 7 day break. During this break you will have a breakthrough bleed. This isn’t technically a period as the pill stops ovulation. Not all pills work this way though, some allow for no breaks or very short breaks.
Always check with your doctor about the pill you are taking. The NHS writes that it is not suitable for over 35’s, the very overweight, those taking certain meds.
Rachel has experience with taking the pill, here are the pros and cons she shared with us.
- Helped with painful periods
- Helps you to know when you will have a bleed
- Doesn’t interrupt sex
- You have to remember to take it daily
- No protection against STIs
- If you miss a few in a row you will bleed
- Some pills caused me to feel sick or have headaches, I had to try a few until I found one that worked for me
- It can sometimes take a few months to get pregnant after coming off the pill, but not always!
The coil (IUS and IUD)
The coil is a small, T shaped device that is put in the womb by a doctor or nurse to prevent pregnancy. They are either made of plastic or copper. The plastic IUS coil works by releasing the hormone progesterone into your womb to prevent pregnancy.
The IUD (copper coil) releases copper. Both of them work by thickening the cervical mucus to make it hard for sperm to make its way to the womb.
We asked a friend the pros and cons for having the copper coil, here’s what she said:
- No hormones in the copper coil and I didn’t need extra hormones going into my body because of PCOS
- Fine having it put in
- Can’t feel it once it is in
- No need to worry about getting pregnant
- But, as soon as you have it removed you can get pregnant
- The copper coil can last 5-10 years
- Bleed a lot more
- Unpredictable periods
- Doesn’t protect against STIs
The contraceptive implant
The contraceptive implant is a small plastic rod that is placed under your skin in the upper arm. The implant works by releasing progesterone into your bloodstream and lasts for 3 years. It is a simple procedure to put in that is done by a doctor or nurse under a local anesthetic. However, it may leave a bit of a bruise.
The implant doesn’t contain oestrogen, which makes it an ideal option for women who are sensitive to this hormone. There’s no protection against STIs, however, the effectiveness against a pregnancy is 99%.
We asked one of our friend to share her take on the pros and cons of the implant. Here’s what she said:
- Great not having to remember to take the pill
- Lasts 3 years
- When you have it removed it is out of your system straight away
- Periods can stop
- The procedure of having it put in and taken out can be uncomfortable
- No protection against STIs
- Hormone based, which isn’t ideal for everyone
Effectiveness: 98% when used correctly
Condoms are a barrier method of contraception. This means that they stop the sperm from entering the cervix. Mostly, condoms are made from latex. However, you can also find them made from polyurethane, polyisoprene, or even lamb intestine, which is ideal should you or your partner be allergic to latex.
Condoms don’t have side effects like some of the hormone contraception methods. You should keep in mind that oil based products can reduce the effectiveness of condoms, make sure if you are using lubes or anything, that they are suitable for condoms.
We had a chat with our girl friend who uses condoms as a contraceptive method. Here’s what she said:
- Protection against STIs
- No side effects
- Get hold of them easily, no need to book a doctors appointment
- Can ruin the moment a little!
- The fear of them splitting
- Trusting someone else to put it on right
- Can be awkward sometimes
Natural cycles / Natural family planning
Natural family planning is a type of contraception where you don’t actually use any contraception. It is more about fertility awareness.
When you choose to go down this route you really have to get to know your body. This is the route I went down, and it has both helped me to get pregnant and avoid pregnancy when I have wanted to.
I went for this as I wanted to fully understand my body and how it was working. The method involves taking your body temperature daily and tracking your moods and cervical mucus to notice fertile signs.
Here are the pros and cons I found with natural family planning:
- Get to know your body better
- No hormones involved
- No need to remember to take a pill
- Lots of great apps out there to help you track
- Can use condoms or another barrier method when you are ovulating or avoid sex
- Ovulation is only detected by body temperature after you have ovulated
- No protection against STIs
- Partner has to trust you know what you are doing
Pros and cons of different contraceptive methods
Choosing contraception is a very personal thing. One friend might be on the pill and it works for them, but it might not be right for you. Make sure you have a good chat with your doctor and consider the pros and cons of each method.
For me, I wanted something I could easily do. I didn’t want additional hormones or something I needed to remember each day.
If the method you choose doesn’t turn out to work for you then you can switch. Finding the right contraception for you is a journey and you shouldn’t settle for one if it is not right for you.