Choosing a contraceptive method2

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How effective are the various methods?

Some contraceptive methods are more effective in preventing pregnancy than others, while only condoms offer protection against sexually transmitted infections.

The following figures will give you some idea of which kinds of contraception are the most efficient at protecting you against pregnancy.

Contraceptive methodEffectiveness
VasectomyAlmost 100 per cent
Female sterilisationAlmost 100 per cent
The PillAlmost 100 per cent
Contraceptive injectionAlmost 100 per cent
IUS (Mirena)98 to 99 per cent
IUD (the coil)97 to 98 per cent
The mini-PillAround 98 per cent
Male condom90 to 98 per cent
Female condom90 to 98 per cent
Diaphragm with spermicide90 to 96 per cent

None of the methods is 100 per cent effective, which means the only guaranteed way of preventing conception is to not have sex!

You should also remember that some methods are quite complicated to use, and no method is as safe as the figures quoted if you don’t follow the instructions carefully.

For example, if you are taking the Pill, you shouldn’t miss taking a tablet. If you are using condoms, you should make sure you put them on before sex starts – not half way through. If you’re relying on the contraceptive injection, you need to turn up for your jab on time.

Every method can fail if you don’t take care.

What about new methods of contraception?

Other methods of contraception will be available in the future. Below are two recent developments.

The vaginal hormone ring

The vaginal hormone ring (NuvaRing) has been tried out extensively since 2001. It is approved in 32 countries, , but only became available in the UK in the spring of 2009.

You keep it in your vagina for three weeks out of every four. During the week you take it out, you will have your period.

Like the Pill, it contains two hormones. We don’t know what its long-term effects will be.

The most common side effects are known to be:

  • vaginal inflammation – 14 per cent
  • headache – 10 per cent
  • Discharge – 6 per cent
  • Nausea – 5 per cent.

It can also have much the same major side effects as the Pill.

As is common with hi-tech methods of contraception, the ring has attracted legal action. In 2008, a lawsuit was launched by a husband who claims that his wife died as a result of using it.

The male Pill

The male Pill is still at least five years away from general release, despite the fact that it keeps making headlines.

At present, it’s an injection, or an implant, not a pill.

It’s unlikely to reach the British market before 2014.

Where do I get advice about choosing a contraceptive?

The UK has very good, free contraceptive services.

Traditionally, advice has been provided by the specially-trained experts at Britain’s large chain of family planning clinics, which were originally set up by the Family Planning Association (fpa).

You can find your local family planning clinic in the phone book or use the clinic finder on the fpa website.

These days, nearly all GPs also offer advice on contraception. If you don’t want to talk to your own doctor about family planning, you can ask to see another. You can go to a different practice if you want to.

It's fair to say that many GPs aren’t experts in all methods of family planning. But usually there is one partner in the practice who does have good qualifications in contraception.

If you’re under 25, you could go to a Brook advisory clinic or a local youth advice clinic.

reference: web

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