Contraception: Your Questions Answered
There is no such thing as absolutely safe sex, but there are ways to have safer sex. These methods reduce the risk of pregnancy as well as the risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Using contraception is one important means of having safer sex and preventing pregnancy. Below are some basic answers to frequently asked questions about contraception.
What Is Contraception?
"Contraception" is a term used to describe methods of preventing conception and pregnancy by keeping a man's sperm and a woman's egg from meeting. Contraceptive devices are also frequently described as "birth control" or "family planning" items. The birth control pill, the birth control patch, condoms, contraceptive implants, contraceptive injections, intra-uterine devices (the coil) and the cap/a diaphragm are all common types of contraception used throughout the world. The rhythm method - timing sexual intercourse so as not to coincide with a woman's ovulation pattern - and withdrawal - a man pulling out of a woman before ejaculating - are also sometimes considered types of contraception though these are generally recognised to be much more risky and less effective methods than the others.
Does Using Contraception Protect Me from STIs?
Not necessarily. Condoms, both the male and female variety, are the only types of contraception that protect against both pregnancy and STIs because they prevent skin-to-skin contact for both parties engaged in sexual intercourse. While other types of contraception help to prevent pregnancy, they must be used with a condom in order for both parties to be protected against STIs. Condoms help prevent STIs from all types of sexual intercourse including vaginal, anal and oral sex.
How Effective Is Contraception?
Each type of contraception has different success rates, but it must be noted that absolutely no type of contraception is 100% effective 100% of the time. No matter which method you choose to use, there will still be a chance that pregnancy may occur. The chances of pregnancy are greatly reduced by using contraception, but pregnancy can still occur.
What Type of Contraception Is Right For Me?
In the United Kingdom the birth control pill and the male condom are the two most popular types of contraception. However, choosing a contraceptive method is something that you will want to do in consultation with your doctor. There are many reasons that people choose certain types of contraception, including the cost of the method, how the method fits into their lifestyle, how they can access the method, how the method relates to or may affect their health, and personal preference. In order to figure out which method if best for you, visit a medical professional to find out about your option.
Where Can I Find Out More About Choosing Contraception?
Visiting your doctor is a good place to start for finding out more about contraception, but many teens feel embarrassed or insecure about discussing birth control with their GPs. If this is the case then there are a number of free, confidential contraceptive services across the United Kingdom. You can find a local family planning clinic by contacting the fpa (formerly the Family Planning Association) (www.fpa.org.uk). Brooks Advisory Clinics (www.brook.org.uk) also offer information on sexual health and contraception to young people under the age of 25.