If you’re having sex and don’t want to fall pregnant, then contraception (birth control) is a must. However, there are many options available and it is important to choose the right one for your needs. Using the contraception you choose correctly will increase your chances of avoiding a pregnancy.
Currently available forms of contraception work in different ways to prevent a pregnancy and include:
- Oral contraceptive pill: an oral medication which contains hormones that stop the ovaries releasing an egg.
- Vaginal ring: placed high in the vagina and left in place for three weeks, then removed for a week to allow for a regular monthly bleed, it works in a similar way to the pill to prevent eggs being released each month.
- Contraceptive rod: a small plastic rod is inserted under the skin on the inside of the upper arm and slowly releases the hormone progestogen, which stops the ovaries releasing an egg each month.
- Intrauterine device (IUD): a small contraceptive device placed in the uterus which affects sperm movement and survival in the uterus so they can’t reach the egg to fertilise it and also changes the lining of the womb so that it isn’t suitable for pregnancy. There are two types – copper and progestogen-releasing (Mirena®).
- Contraceptive injection: an injection of a long-acting synthetic hormone given every 12 weeks for contraception.
- Diaphragm: a soft silicone cap worn inside the vagina to cover the cervix and stop sperm from getting into the uterus. It can be inserted up to 24 hours before having sex and is removed afterward.
- Condom: the male condom is a fine rubber or synthetic sheath that is worn on a stiff (erect) penis to collect the sperm and stop them entering the vagina and uterus. Condoms also reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
- Emergency contraception: also known as the ‘morning after pill’ is most effective if taken as soon as possible after unprotected sex and can be used if you forgot to use contraception or there was a mishap such as a broken condom.
Your choice of contraception should take into account a number of factors including the effectiveness in preventing pregnancy, ease of use, side effects, cost and availability, reversibility, any health issues you have that might limit some choices, and benefits other than contraception, including protection against STIs.
To find out the best contraceptive option for you, speak with your doctor or contact your local Family Planning organisation.
For more details about different contraceptive choices:
Download a fact sheet on contraception choices from Family Planning Alliance Australia
Find your local family planning clinic