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Safe Sex is Good Sex

Learn about different types of contraception to help have happy and safe sex...

  • Male Condom

    • Top 5 Plus Points

      - Only need to be used when you have sex

      - Help protect against STIs, including HIV and AIDS

      - Easily available

      - Come in many shapes and sizes to suit everyone

      Any bad points?

      - Putting them on can interrupt sex

      - Some people claim condoms reduce sensitivity during sex

      Where can I get them from?

      Condoms are often available free from family planning clinics, many sexual health clinics, some GPs and online.

  • Female Condom

    • The Plus Points

      - Only need to be used when you have sex

      - Can help protect against STIs, including HIV/AIDS

      - Can be put in anytime before sex

      Any bad points?

      - Putting them in can interrupt sex

      - Some people claim condoms reduce sensitivity during sex

      - Not widely available

      Where can I get them from?

      The female condom can be bought from pharmacies, supermarkets, GP’s or online.

  • The Pill

    • Top 5 Plus Points

      - Sometimes makes a woman's periods lighter, shorter and less painful

      - Can help with pre-menstrual syndrome/ tension/acne

      - Doesn't interfere with sex

      - Reduces the risk of fibroids (non-cancerous tumours of the womb), ovarian cysts and breast disease other than cancer

      Any bad points?

      - Some women may suffer from nausea, breast tenderness, bleeding between periods, headaches and mood changes. Changing pill may help.

      - May increase blood pressure

      - Doesn't protect against STIs, including HIV/AIDS

      - They have to be taken either every day or 21 out of 28 days on your cycle.

      - Contraceptive protection can be reduced during sickness and while taking antibiotics

      - It is usually recommended to take a different method of contraception during breastfeeding

      There are also some uncommon but serious side effects which should be discussed with your doctor if you are considering using the pill.

      Where can I get them from?

      The pill is available free from a GP or from family planning clinics with a prescription. It can also be purchased from most pharmacies with a prescription.

  • Contraceptive Implant

    • Top Plus Points

      - Doesn't interfere with sex

      - Can be used if you are breastfeeding

      - Normal levels of fertility return after the implant is removed

      - Contraception lasts for between three and five years

      Any bad points?

      - Periods may change, bleeding can be irregular

      - Possible side effects include headaches, acne, tender breasts, weight gain abdominal pain and bloating

      - Very rarely an infection can occur in the arm where the implant is inserted.

      - A small procedure is required to both fit and remove it.

      - Can occasionally be difficult to remove the implant

      - Some women experience depression and mood swings

      - Doesn't protect against STIs, including HIV/AIDS

      Where can I get one?

      The contraceptive implant is only available from GPs, because it has to be fitted by a trained doctor or nurse.


  • Contraceptive Injection

    • Top Plus Points

      - Doesn't interfere with sex

      - Can be used if you are breastfeeding

      - It reduces the risk of developing pelvic inflammatory disease and cancer of the womb.

      - Offers contraceptive protection for 8-12 weeks

      - May reduce heavy, painful periods and help with premenstrual symptoms for some women

      Any bad points?

      - Periods may change, bleeding can be irregular (this can continue for several months or as long as the injection lasts)

      - Possible side effects include headaches, acne, tender breasts, weight gain, mood swings abdominal pain and bloating

      - Any side effects will probably last as long as the injection lasts (8-12 weeks)

      - Sometimes fertility can take more than a year to return to normal after stopping the injection

      - Doesn't protect against STIs, including HIV/AIDS

      Where can I get one?

      The ocntraceptive injection is only available from GPs.

  • Diaphragms, caps and sponges

    • Top Plus Points

      - Only need to be used when you have sex

      - Can be put in at any convenient time before sex

      - Diaphragms and caps may give some protection against STIs, sponges do not

      Any bad points?

      - Some women have a problem with cystitis

      - Can take time to learn how to use them effectively

      - Diaphragms and caps only provide limited protection against STIs, including HIV/AIDS

      Where can I get them from?

      Each must be initially fitted by a doctor or nurse at a GP surgery or family planning clinic. Once fitted, they can be bought from pharmacies.

  • Morning after pill

    • Please note: the morning after pill is not intended to be used as a form of regular contraception. For emergency use only.

      Side Effects:

      - Can cause sickness. If you are sick within 2 hours of taking the pill, then this can reduce its effectiveness

      - Doesn't protect against STIs, including HIV/AIDS

      - Has to be taken within a limited time after unprotected sex

      - Should not be used as a regular method of contraception

      - It can disrupt your periods

      Where can I get it from?

      Available from GPs, family planning clinics and sexual health clinics. Can be purchased at pharmacies in some countries if you are 16 or over. Availability and the age of its availability varies from country to country.


  • The Intrauterine System (IUS) (Hormone releasing IUD)

    • Top 5 Plus Points

      - Lasts for five years

      - Doesn't interfere with sex

      - Periods often become lighter, shorter and sometimes less painful

      - Fertility returns quickly after it is removed

      - Can be used if you’re breast feeding

      Any bad points?

      - A lot of women have slight but irregular bleeding for the first six months

      - Temporary side effects can include headaches, acne and breast tenderness

      - Some women develop cysts on their ovaries. These are not dangerous but can sometimes cause pain. They usually disappear without treatment.

      - Can be pushed out by the womb or become dislodged

      - Can puncture or perforate the womb which may require removal by surgery, although this is rare

      - Doesn't protect against STIs, including HIV/AIDS

      - Small chance of infection after the device has been put in.

      Where can I get one?

      Available from family planning clinics, sexual health clinics and some GPs as it has to be fitted by a trained doctor or nurse.


  • Male and female sterilisation

    • This is a permanent method of contraception and is a surgical procedure where the tubes that supply sperm in a man and the tubes that carry the egg in a woman are cut or tied.

      Male sterilisation is up to 100%** effective. Female sterilisation is also up to 100%*** effective.

      Top Plus Points

      - Doesn't interfere with sex

      - It is permanent

      - Male sterilisation is a quick and simple operation with less chance of failure than female sterilisation

      Any bad points?

      - Both procedures are permanent and cannot be easily reversed

      - It can take from two months for all sperm to disappear from the semen, so extra contraception must be used before you have a semen test to confirm there are no sperm left.

      - The tubes may rejoin and fertility may return (this isn’t common)

      - Doesn't protect against STIs, including HIV/AIDS

      - Female sterilisation usually involves a general anaesthetic, male sterilisation usually requires a local anaesthetic.

      Where can I find out more?

      Because this is a surgical procedure it must only be performed by a trained doctor. However, family planning clinics, sexual health clinics and GPs will be able to give you more information. 

       (The above information is only a selection of the good and bad points for the different forms of contraception.)

      *condom use may help reduce the risk of transmission of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

      *condoms can help reduce the risk of pregnancy

      ** 1 in 2,000 operations may fail

      *** 1 in 200 operations may fail

      SOURCE: www.mariestopes.org.uk and Durex Information Service leaflets