What is contraception?
Contraception refers to anything that is used to prevent pregnancy. Without the use of contraception, sex usually results in sperm fertilising an egg, which can lead to pregnancy. While pregnancy and having children can be an important part of life for some people, not everyone is ready or able to have children! Contraception is also referred to as family planning, birth control or protection.
It is important to note that not all contraception methods prevent you from sexually transmitted infections or diseases (STIs and STDs). To read more about STD prevention, click here.
Abstinence means choosing not to have sex. Abstinence can be a great choice for young people as it is 100% effective in preventing pregnancy and also sexually transmitted diseases.
To read more about abstinence, click here.
Who should use contraception?
Contraception should be used by anyone who has penetrative vaginal sex but doesn’t want children. It is important to remember that most types of contraception, other than condoms, offer no protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs)). People who have sex that can’t result in pregnancy, like oral sex or men who have sex with men, don’t need contraception but still need protection from STIs!
There are many different types of contraception available and it’s important to choose what is right for you. It is helpful to read about the options available and talk to your doctor about what is the best method for you. Here is some brief information to get you started.
When choosing the type of contraception you want to use, there are a few important things to consider:
- Reliability: What is the risk of a particular method resulting in accidental pregnancy?
- Price: Some methods are free, others can be quite costly. This should be considered when you are choosing what suits your needs best.
- Reversibility: Some methods are temporary and your fertility will return to normal after you stop using the contraception. With some other methods it may take weeks to months to return to normal fertility.
- Accessibility: Some methods require access to a doctor semi-regularly for insertion, prescriptions or check-ups whereas others can be used without the assistance of a doctor/nurse.
Contraception is an important part of having a healthy discussion about safe sex, which anyone engaging in sexual activity (that could result in pregnancy) should be having. It is the responsibility of all partners involved to make sure contraception is discussed when necessary, but the decision is ultimately made by the person who will be using the contraceptive device on their own body.
Types of Contraception
Using Natural Forms of Birth Control
Other “natural” forms of birth control that don’t require medicine or devices include withdrawal, fertility awareness and breastfeeding.
Some women may elect to utilise “cycle-tracking” in order to prevent pregnancy. This can be done via a number of different apps available on a smartphone. However, please note that this method has a high failure rate (i.e. pregnancy could result) and is not recommended by health providers for those seeking effective contraception.
The above is a list of commonly available contraceptive methods but all methods may affect individuals differently. It is important to consult your doctor to find the most appropriate contraceptive option for you. Some women find they need to trial a few different methods before finding one that works best for them.
The below references have been used to compile this information, and each website contains useful information sheets about the above mentioned contraceptive methods.