If you are a sexually active person it is important to make decisions on birth prevention and/or STD protection. If you have a need to prevent unplanned pregnancies, there is an abundance of options of contraceptive methods to find the perfect solution for you. The methods all have pros and cons, and give different forms of protection. For pregnancy prevention, most methods are catered to the female body, such as the pill, mini-pill, IUD, coil contraception or contraceptive patch, to mention a few. Contraception methods for males are still under development.
Protection against any spontaneous pregnancies is important for any sexually active person. Finding a good contraception method is vital, so you don’t have to worry about whether you or your partner is pregnant or not. If you are having same-sex intercourse, it is still important to be protected towards STIs and use a condom.
It is up to each individual what birth control they want to use. You can seek guidance from a gynaecologist, midwife, GP and youth sexual health clinics1. A midwife can also help you to ordinate prescribed birth control and help you commence the treatment.
Here, you can read about the birth control methods that are available in the market today, how they work and what you need to think about when choosing.
What’s on this page?
What type of contraception should I use?
The best type of birth control method is one that is adapted to your situation and sexual life. There are many important factors. Age, how sexually active you are and whether you want to use hormones or not is a few examples of things that can be factors when choosing. If you are in a relationship and you are sure that no partner has an STD, your first concern is to protect yourself against pregnancy if you are in a heterosexual relationship, while if you change partners often your need for protection against STIs might be higher.
Your personality is also a factor to take into consideration when choosing – if you are forgetful it might not be a good idea to take contraceptive pills that you need to take every day, but rather something that is more long-term with a high security.
Another thing that you need to take a stand on is hormones. There are a lot of hormone-free alternatives if your body doesn’t react well to or you don’t want to use hormone-based methods. The most contraceptive methods contain hormones, and will, therefore, affect the body in certain ways. The hormones prevent ovulation, but these come with a set of side effects that some people’s bodies can handle better than others. If you are sensitive to hormones, it is important to explore other ways to protect oneself from pregnancy. You can avoid side effects if you choose hormone-free alternatives like condom and femdom.
What family planning method is the best?
Through reading up on the different alternatives, your decision-making for what alternative is best for you and your partner. Sometimes you have to try out a few different alternatives before you find the right match for your situation.
You can always seek guidance from a doctor or midwife.
Conditions that can affect the choice of prevention
Some conditions are affecting the choice of prevention method. The person helping you with your prescription will take this into consideration. Examples of diseases and conditions that you need to take into consideration when deciding are for example migraine and blood clots.
Contraception during pregnancy and during breastfeeding
You should not use birth control pills, vaginal ring or contraceptive patch until after the first six weeks after you have given birth, because of the heightened risk of thrombosis. Breastfeeding does not affect your choice of contraception.
Different types of contraception
This section covers the most common contraception methods.
Contraception with hormones
Birth control pills
Birth control pills are the most common hormone-based alternative. Birth control pills have revolutionized the market for contraception and helped millions of people to prevent spontaneous pregnancies. Contraceptive pills contain the hormones oestrogen and progestogen and prevent ovulation. It makes the secretion of the cervix thicker so that sperm cannot get through. Today, there are many forms of contraceptive pills. Some also help with skin problems whilst others are used to prevent severe menstrual cramps and heavy bleeding.
Progesterone-only: the mini pill
The Progesterone-only pill is considered to be the younger sibling of the birth control pill since it only contains one type of hormone. This treatment can be relevant for women that cannot take oestrogen. With this pill, it is more important when it comes to taking the pill in a timely manner, in order to get the same level of protection as for birth control pills.
If you for some reason can’t take a pill every day, contraceptive pills can be the solution for you. The patch works in the same way as the birth control pill, but it has to be changed once a week. The hormones are transferred into the body through the skin and the patch can easily be removed if one would no longer want the protection.
The etonogestrel birth control implant is inserted by a doctor into the arm and will emit hormones during a three year period. This method works in the same way as the birth control pills. When three years have passed, the implant needs to be switched.
A vaginal ring is something that you yourself place into your vagina, where it emits hormones that affect the ovulation. The advantage of this method is that it only needs to be changed once a month, so you don’t have to think about it daily or even weekly.
If you have forgotten to use your protection or if your protection malfunctioned in any way, you may need to take an emergency contraception pill, or the morning-after-pill as it is sometimes called, in order to avoid pregnancy. This type of protection shall only be used in emergency cases since it contains a strong dose of hormones. The pill is to be taken as soon as possible after unprotected sex, but some types of the pill can be taken up to five days after. In some cases, an intrauterine device can be used as emergency contraception2.
Contraception without hormones
Intrauterine device (IUD)
An intrauterine device, IUD, is a hormone-free alternative that looks like the letter T in plastic, wrapped in a copper coil. It is placed in the uterus by a midwife. When inserted, the coil creates an environment that the sperm is avoiding, which gives protection without interrupting the ovulation.
Condom, diaphragm and femdom
These methods are barrier contraceptives, and is stopping the sperm from reaching the uterus and can thus not impregnate an egg. Condom and femdom are the only forms of protection that works against STIs.
Using a condom is the most common form of contraception for men. It does not only protect against pregnancy but also against sexually transmitted diseases. There have been limited ways for men to contribute to family planning, in comparison to options like contraceptive pills, IUD, mini pill and much more for women.
There is a research effort to develop new forms of contraception for men, but they are yet to reach the market. Two forms that being explored is the contraceptive pill taken orally3, as well as hormone injections4.