Types of Contraception
By Dr Emma Rees
Contraceptives are designed to prevent pregnancy. They work by stopping the male sperm from reaching the female’s egg. There is a variety of contraceptive methods available and they all work slightly differently. Most contraceptive methods do not prevent sexually transmitted diseases but barrier methods such as condoms do. With such a variety of contraceptives available, it can sometimes be difficult to work out which method would be best to use.
Femma doctors help to support women with this choice. We use decision support tools to help understand what is most important to you about contraception.
There are 12 different types of contraception, including;
1. IUD (Intrauterine device) – Copper Coil
An IUD is a small plastic and copper device that is put into your uterus (womb). It has one or two thin threads on the end that hang through your cervix (the entrance to the uterus) into the top of your vagina.
An IUD works for contraception for 5 or 10 years, depending on the type. If you are aged 40 or older when the IUD is fitted, it will work for contraception until after the menopause, when contraception is not needed. An IUD is sometimes called a ‘coil’ or ‘copper coil’. There are different types and sizes.
2. IUS (Intrauterine system) – Mirena/Kyleena
An IUS is a small plastic device that is put into your uterus (womb) and releases a progestogen hormone. This is similar to the natural progesterone produced by the ovaries. The IUS works as contraception for three, four or five years depending on the type. There are different types and sizes with different amounts of the progestogen hormone. If you are aged over 45 when a particular type of IUS (Mirena) is fitted, it will work as contraception until after the menopause when contraception is no longer needed.
3. Contraceptive injections
Contraceptive injections contain a progestogen hormone which is similar to the natural progesterone produced by the ovaries. There are different types of injection.
4. Combined pill (COC)
The combined pill is usually just called the pill. It contains two hormones – oestrogen and progestogen. These are similar to the natural hormones produced by the ovaries. There are different types of combined pill and different ways to take it.
5. Progestogen-only pill (POP)
Progestogen-only pills (POPs) contain a progestogen hormone. This is similar to the natural progesterone produced by the ovaries. Different POPs contain different types of progestogen. If you are not sure what type of progestogen is in your POP, check the patient information leaflet inside your pack or ask your doctor or nurse. POPs are different to combined pills because they don’t contain the hormone oestrogen.
6. Contraceptive implant
A contraceptive implant is a small, flexible rod that is placed just under your skin in your upper arm. It releases a progestogen hormone similar to the natural progesterone produced by the ovaries. It works for three years.
7. Contraceptive vaginal ring
The contraceptive vaginal ring is a flexible, transparent plastic ring. It is placed in the vagina where it releases two hormones – oestrogen and progestogen. These are similar to the natural hormones produced by the ovaries and are like those used in the combined pill.
8. Contraceptive patch
The contraceptive patch is a small, thin, beige coloured patch, nearly 5cm x 5cm in size.You stick it on your skin, and it releases two hormones – oestrogen and progestogen. These are similar to the natural hormones produced by the ovaries and are like those used in the combined pill.
9. Emergency contraception
If you have had unprotected sex, that is, sex without using contraception, or think your contraception might have failed, you can use emergency contraception.
10. Condoms (external – male, internal – female)
External (male) and internal (female) condoms are barrier methods of contraception. They stop sperm meeting an egg. An external condom fits over an erect penis and is made of very thin latex (rubber), polyurethane (plastic) or polyisoprene. An internal condom is made of polyurethane (soft plastic) or nitrile polymer (synthetic rubber). It is put in the vagina and loosely lines it.
11. Fertility awareness methods
Fertility awareness involves being able to identify the signs and symptoms of fertility during the menstrual cycle so you can plan or avoid pregnancy. This information is about using fertility awareness methods as contraception to help you avoid getting pregnant. Using fertility awareness methods for contraception is also known as natural family planning.
12. Permanent Contraception – Sterilisation
Sterilisation is a permanent method of contraception, for people who do not want more children, or any children. It works by stopping sperm from meeting an egg.
To learn more about each type of contraception, and which may work best for you, subscribe to Femma.com.au today!
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