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Contraception

Contraception for Women

Contraceptive is something (usually a device or drug) which is used to help prevent a woman becoming pregnant.


Combined Oral Contraception is usually known as "the pill". The pill works by preventing ovaries from releasing eggs and preventing the sperm from reaching an egg. You take the pill every day for 21 days at a time and it a very reliable form of contraception if taken correctly. However many people forget to take it so the failure rate can be as high as 8%.

The pill is usually very safe however the following should not take it:

  • Women who suffer bad migraines
  • Women who have had a blood clot (thrombosis).
  • Women who smoke heavily
  • Women who are very overweight

The pill usually comes in packets of 21 tablets. You should start taking the pill on the first day of your period and then every day at the same time for the next 21 days. You then stop taking the pill for a week and during this week, you may have period-type bleeding. Do not panic if you forget one pill; however if your missed pill was just before and or after the seven day break, or you miss more than one pill, we always advise you to use condoms as well as pills for the next seven days. Antibiotics may also reduce the effectiveness of the pill. If you have any concerns, please contact your GP practice or local sexual health clinic for advice.

The pill usually causes only very mild side effects such as nausea or headaches. However, It do discuss any side effects with your GP practice or local sexual health clinic as often the side effects can be mitigated by changing the type of pill you are taking.

Where to get it:

  • Your GP / Practice Nurse
  • Contraception and Sexual Health Clinic

Find out more about the Pill at the NHS Choices website

Where can I get it


The Emergency Pill (brand name: Levonelle) is sometimes known as the "Morning After Pill" however this is a misleading as the pill can be taken up to 72 hours after unprotected sex (e.g. condom broke, missed contraceptive pills etc). It is advisable to take the pill as soon as possible after unprotected sex and within 72 hours. The Emergency Pill can sometimes be given up to five days afterwards. There is a small failure rate so we advise you to carry out a pregnancy test if your period is late or you have any other reason to suspect you may be pregnant.


Where to get it:

Go to the Local Clinics section to find your nearest clinic.

You can also access the 'morning after' pill at the following places:

  • Contraception and Sexual health Clinics
  • Your GP/ Practice nurse
  • Community Pharmacy ( Free to Under 21s at certain pharmacies)
  • Some school nurses
  • Accident and Emergency / genitourinary medicine clinics

Find out more about The Morning After Pill at the NHS Choices website

Where can I get it

Implants are very reliable contraception methods. The implant is a small flexible tube that's inserted under the skin of your upper arm and works by releasing a hormone. The implant lasts for three years, but it can be removed at any time.

Where to get it:

Go to the Local Clinics section to find your nearest clinic.

The Implant is also available at:

  • Contraception and Sexual Health Clinic
  • Sometimes your GP may be able to fit this so you should ask your surgery

Find out more about the Implant at the NHS Choices website

Where can I get it

The contraception injection is very reliable (more than 99% effective) and is provided every 12 weeks. The contraception injection prevents ovaries from releasing eggs. The main side effect is irregular bleeding which can sometimes occur after the first injection. However usually periods stops altogether after two or three injections. Sometimes the contraception injection can cause mild side effects such as weight gain.

Find out more about The Injection at the NHS Choices website

Where can I get it

The Intrauterine Device (IUD) and the Intrauterine System (IUS) - also sometimes known as "the coil" - are very similar methods of contraception. Both work by stopping the sperm and egg from surviving in the womb or fallopian tubes. They may also prevent a fertilised egg from implanting in the womb.

Where to get it:

Go to the Local Clinics section to find your nearest clinic.

An IUD is made with plastic and copper and does not contain any hormones, while the IUS releases a small amount of the hormone Levonorgestrel directly into your uterus. Both last for a long time (up to ten years), but can be removed at any time.

The main side effects of an IUD or IUS are irregular bleeding for the first few weeks after it has been fitted. periods also usually become lighter. The IUS is a little bit larger than the IUD so not always easy to fit if you have not given birth before.

The IUS is also available at:

  • Contraception and sexual Health Clinic
  • Sometimes your GP may be able to fit an IUS so you should ask at your surgery

Find out more about the COil at the NHS Choices website

Where can I get it

The mini-pill primarily works by stopping sperm from reaching an egg; it can also sometimes stop an egg from being made (especially the Cerazette pill). This type of pill is very safe in most medical conditions. The mini pill is taken at the same time every day for 28 days; there is no seven day break. If you forget to take your mini-pill, you have up to three hours to remember it (12 hours for Cerazette). If it is any later than this, you must use condoms as well as the mini pill for two days (seven days for Cerazette). The most common side effects are irregular bleeding and sometimes breast tenderness or acne.


Where to get it:

  • Your GP / Practice Nurse
  • Contraception and Sexual Health Clinic

Find out more about the Mini Pill at the NHS Choices website

Where can I get it


Sterilisation is available for both men and women however it is permanent, involves surgery and is not usually reversible. Sterilisation is only recommended for people who are very certain that they do not want children, or do not want further children (for whatever reason). For women, sterilisation surgery involves blocking or sealing the fallopian tubes, which link the ovaries to the womb (uterus).


Where to get it:

  • Your GP or Contraception and Sexual Health Clinic can refer you for sterilisation if you are happy that you have completed your family.

Find out more about Sterilisation at the NHS Choices website

Where can I get it


The patch is a small sticky square which you stick on your body e.g. the arm or thigh. The patch releases hormones and works in a similar way to the pill. The patch is changed once a week for three weeks and then you then stop using the patch for a week; during this week, you may have period-type bleeding. Side effects are very mild and similar to 'the pill' but it is very important to remember to change the patch on the right day and to make sure that it does not fall off.

Where to get it:

  • Your GP / Practice Nurse
  • Contraception and Sexual Health Clinic

Find out more about The Contraceptive Patch (Evra) at the NHS Choices website

Where can I get it

The vaginal ring is a small, soft plastic ring which releases hormones. You fit the ring yourself. It is placed in the vagina for three weeks and then removed for a week. During this week, you may have period-type bleeding. The ring should remain in place while you have sex.

Where to get it (when available):

  • Your GP / Practice nurse
  • Contraception and Sexual Health Clinic

Find out more about the Vaginal Ring at the NHS Choices website

Where can I get it