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What is it?

  • An operation that results in permanent contraception for men who have completed their family or who never want children.
  • Otherwise known as vasectomy.

How does it work?

  • The tube (vas deferens) that carries sperm from the testicles to the penis is blocked off so no sperm are released when the man ejaculates (“comes”).

What’s great about it?

  • Extremely effective. One in 2,000 sterilised men get their partner pregnant.
  • It’s permanent. You don’t need to think about contraception again whilst you are with that partner.

What’s not so great about it?

  • No protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) - condoms advised.
  • Involve surgery and anesthetic and the risks associated with these.
  • Its permanent - some men decide they want a child/more children and regret being sterilised. Procedures to reverse the sterilisation may not be successful.
  • Not effective right away - may take up to 3 months.
  • The tube / vas deferens can rejoin after the operation meaning his partner may fall pregnant.

Where can I get it?

  • A trained health care provider completes the procedure. This can be organised by the GP or at specialised family planning services.

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What are they?

  • Soft, flexible latex or silicone dome/cup shaped devices that fit in the vagina and cover the cervix (entrance to the womb). Caps are usually smaller.
  • They should be used with a spermicide. 

 How do they work?

  • Act as a barrier preventing sperm from entering the womb thereby stopping fertilisation with an egg.
  • The spermicide kills the sperm. 

What’s great about them? 

  • Quite effective – up to 8 out of 100 women will fall pregnant each year if they are used perfectly. If not used perfectly more women will fall pregnant.
  • You can insert the diaphragm ahead of time (up to six hours before sex) so that it doesn't interrupt sex. 
  • Contains no hormones so no side effects and your period is not affected.
  • You only have to use it when you have sex.

 What’s not so great about them? 

  • Can “interrupt the mood” during sex if it’s not put in beforehand.
  • You should leave it in for at least 6 hours after the last time you had sex. 
  • Extra spermicide is needed if you have sex again.
  • Spermicide can be messy.
  • They are less effective than most methods but better than using nothing. They fail because: device is damaged e.g. torn/has hole; wrong size; doesn’t cover the cervix; spermicide not used consistently; device is removed too soon; use of oil based lubricants which damage the latex.
  • No protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) – condoms advised. 
  • If your body changes in certain ways, you might need a different size diaphragm.
  • The diaphragm cannot be used when you have your period.
  • The latex or spermicide can cause irritation of the penis or vagina and cystitis.
  • Can take time to learn how to use it.

 Where can I get it?

  • Click here to text for an appointment at Chelsea and Westminster Sexual Health service.
  • Family planning clinics, some GPs and other sexual health clinics.

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 What is it?

  • Very thin, soft tubing made of polyurethane that is inserted into and loosely lines the vagina. 

 How does it work?

  • It acts as a barrier between the penis and vagina so sperm doesn’t enter the vagina and reach the egg.

 What’s great about it? 

  • Quite effective. 5 out of 100 women using them will get pregnant each year. If not used properly more women will fall pregnant.
  • Anyone can buy them in a store – does not need a prescription 
  • Does not contain hormones so no side effects and periods are not affected.
  • Just use it when you have sex. Can be put in any time before sex so as to not interrupt it.
  • Protects against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
  • Can use it with any lubricant – not affected by oil based lubricants.

 What’s not so great about it?

  • It is less effective than most methods but better than using nothing.
  • It can fail because: penis enters you between the condom and the vagina, not inside the condom; condom can be pushed too far into the vagina – the open end should always be outside the vagina; it slips out
  • Needs to be used every time you have sex.
  • Can “interrupt the mood” during sex if not inserted beforehand.
  • Can cause vaginal/penile irritation.
  • More expensive than a male condom.
  • Can make sex noisy, but adding extra lubricant can help.

 Where can I get it?

  • Click here to text for an appointment at Chelsea and Westminster Sexual Health service.
  • Family planning clinics, some GPs and other sexual health clinics.
  • Buy it at pharmacies and supermarkets.

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 What is it?

  • Thin cover made of rubber or polyurethane that fits snugly over the penis during sex.

 How does it work?

  • It acts as a barrier between the penis and vagina so sperm cannot enter the vagina and reach the egg.

 What’s great about it? 

  • Quite effective – 2 women in 100 will get pregnant in a year. If they are not used properly more women will fall pregnant (12 in 100).
  • Anyone can buy them from a range of places – does not need a prescription.
  • Does not contain hormones so no side-effects and periods are not affected.
  • Just use it when you have sex.
  • Protects against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
  • Different shapes, sizes, textures and colours of condom are available.
  • Can help a man stay hard for longer and come less quickly.

 What’s not so great about it? 

  • It is less effective than most methods but better than using nothing.
  • Putting it on can interrupt sex.
  • Often fails because: slips off; splits/breaks; wrong size or shape; too much or too little lubricant used; oil based lubricants used which damage it; not used properly e.g. put on after penis and vagina have already come into contact, not withdrawn immediately after ejaculation.
  • Man needs to withdraw as soon as he has ejaculated and before the penis goes soft so that semen does not spill into the vagina.
  • Some people are sensitive to the latex – if so use polyurethane makes of condom.
  • Some men find it difficult maintaining an erection whilst using them.

 Where can I get it?

  • Click here to text for an appointment at Chelsea and Westminster Sexual Health service.
  • Family planning clinics, some GPs and other sexual health clinics.
  • Buy them at pharmacies, supermarkets, vending machines and garages.

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 What is it?

  • A form of birth control that is also known as "pulling out." The man removes his penis from the vagina before he comes (ejaculates).

 How does it work?

  • Ejaculation occurs outside the vagina so semen doesn’t enter vagina. 

 What’s great about it? 

  • If used perfectly, 4 out of 100 women will fall pregnant each year. However it is often not used perfectly – with such typical use more women fall pregnant (18 in 100).
  • Involves no hormones so no side-effects and periods are not affected.

 What’s not so great about it? 

  • Least effective method in real life but it’s better than using nothing.
  • Does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) – condoms advised.
  • Requires a degree of control by the man.
  • Sometimes semen gets into the woman's vagina by accident.
  • Some people find that withdrawal lessens sexual pleasure.

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What is it?

  • A method where a woman monitors her body’s natural fertility indicators (signs) during her monthly cycle. These show when you can have sex without risking pregnancy (non-fertile time) and when you should avoid sex (fertile time).

How does it work?

  • By monitoring your body temperature, vaginal discharge and the length of yoour cycle you can tell when you are fertile and when you are not.

What’s great about it?

  • If used correctly is 99% effective - one woman in 100 using this method will get pregnant in a year. It is often not used correctly which results in more women falling pregnant.
  • Involves no hormones so no side effects and periods are not affected.
  • Gives a woman a greater awareness of her body.
  • Can also be used to plan a pregnancy.

What's not so great about it?

  • It’s not as effective in real life as other methods but it’s better than using nothing.
  • Need to avoid sex (or use a condom) at fertile times of the month.
  • It takes 3–6 period cycles to learn your fertile times accurately.
  • You have to keep daily records.
  • NB Persona is a small computerised monitor with urine test sticks, which measure your hormone changes. It predicts the fertile and infertile times of your cycle. If used correctly it can be 94 per cent effective.

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What is it?

  • A daily pill taken by mouth containing the hormones oestrogen and progesterone.

How does it work?

  • One pill is taken every day for three weeks out of four. The fourth week is a pill free week within which you normally get a period.
  • The hormones stop ovulation (eggs being released from the ovaries), thicken the mucus at the entrance to the womb preventing sperm getting through and thin the lining of your womb preventing implantation of a fertilised egg.

What’s great about it?

  • Very Effective. If taken perfectly the pill is >99% effective - less than one in 100 women will get pregnant each year. However pill users often don’t take it correctly (e.g miss pills) and such typical use means more women will fall pregnant (8 in 100).
  • Its effect on fertility is rapidly reversible.
  • Periods will usually become more regular, lighter and less painful.
  • Pre-menstrual tension and acne may improve.
  • Can protect against pelvic infection, ectopic pregnancy, fibroids and ovarian cysts.
  • May reduce the risk of cancer of the ovary, uterus and colon.

What’s not so great about it?

  • No protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) - condoms advised.
  • It is easy to forget to take the pills every day. If you forget to do so it may stop working.
  • Small increased risk of heart or stroke disease, blood clots in the legs/lungs, breast cancer and cervical cancer.
  • Can cause temporary side-effects such as headaches, mood change, breast tenderness and bleeding in between periods. These may wear off with time or by switching to a different pill.
  • Needs a regular prescription from a health care provider.
  • Its effectiveness can be reduced if you vomit or have diarrhoea.
  • Women with some medical conditions or taking certain medication are not advised to use it e.g. very overweight; smokers aged 35 or older.

Where can I get it?

  • Click here to text for an appointment at Chelsea and Westminster Sexual Health service.
  • Family planning clinics, some GPs and other sexual health clinics.

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What is it?

  • A small, soft, flexible, plastic T shaped device that fits inside the womb.
  • It is easily inserted by a trained health care professional.

How does it work?

  • Prevents sperm surviving in the womb and fallopian tubes and therefore stops fertilisation of an egg.
  • Prevents implantation of a fertilised egg in the womb lining.

What’s great about it?

  • Extremely effective (>99%). Less than 2 in 100 women using it fall pregnant over 5 years.
  • Contraception lasts for 5-10 years unless you want it removed earlier.
  • Doesn’t contain hormones so can be used by women who can’t tolerate or use hormonal methods and won’t affect the natural frequency of your periods.
  • Fertility rapidly returns after it is removed.
  • Can be used by women who have never had a baby.
  • Will be no need to take pills, interrupt sex or attend clinic regularly after insertion.
  • Is not affected by other medications.

What’s not so great about it?

  • No protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) - condoms advised.
  • Insertion can be slightly uncomfortable. Local anaesthetic is offered.
  • Periods may be a little longer, heavier or more painful. This may improve.
  • Can become displaced or fall out (expulsion) but this is uncommon (5 in 100) and you can do checks yourself to make sure it’s in place.
  • Small risk of pelvic infection for up to 3 weeks after insertion. This risk is reduced by having a sexual health screen before it’s fitted.
  • Very small risk of perforating the womb or cervix (1 in 2000).

 Where can I get it?

  • Click here to text for an appointment at Chelsea and Westminster Sexual Health service. A preliminary appointment is usually required before fitting this method to discuss the method fully, screen for infections and schedule a fitting date.
  • Family planning clinics, some GPs and other sexual health clinics.

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What is it?

  • A small, flexible piece of soft plastic that fits inside the womb.
  • It is easily inserted by a trained health care professional.
  • It releases a hormone progesterone into the womb.

How does it work?

  • The hormone thickens the mucus at the entrance to the womb preventing sperm getting through and thins the lining of your womb preventing implantation of a fertilised egg. It may also stop ovulation (eggs being released from the ovaries) in some women.

What’s great about it?

  • Extremely effective (>99%). Less than 1 in 100 women using it will fall pregnant over 5 years.
  • Contraception lasts for 5 years unless you want it removed earlier.
  • Periods usually become lighter, shorter and sometimes less painful.
  • Can be used by women who have never had a baby.
  • Fertility returns as soon as it is removed.
  • There will be no need to take pills, interrupt sex or attend clinic regularly after insertion.
  • Is not affected by other medications.

What’s not so great about it?

  • No protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) - condoms advised.
  • Insertion can be slightly uncomfortable. Local anaesthetic is offered.
  • Can cause irregular periods or no periods.
  • Can become displaced or fall out (expulsion) but this is uncommon (5 in 100) and you can do checks yourself to make sure it’s in place.
  • Small risk of pelvic infection for up to 3 weeks after insertion. This risk is reduced by having a sexual health screen prior to the fitting.
  • Very small risk of perforating the womb or cervix (1 in 2000 risk).

Where can I get it?

  • Click here to text for an appointment at Chelsea and Westminster Sexual Health service. A preliminary appointment is usually required before fitting this method to discuss the method fully, screen for infections and schedule a fitting date.
  • Family planning clinics, some GPs and other sexual health clinics.

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What is it?

  • A soft, plastic, matchstick sized rod placed under the skin which releases the hormone progesterone.
  • A trained health care provider inserts it under your upper arm using local anesthetic.

How does it work?

  • The hormone stops ovulation (eggs being released from the ovaries), thickens the mucus at the entrance to the womb preventing sperm getting through and thins the lining of your womb preventing implantation of a fertilised egg.

What’s great about it?

  • Extremely effective (>99%). Less than 1 in 1,000 women using it will fall pregnant over 3 years.
  • Contraception lasts for 3 years unless you want it removed earlier.
  • It can reduce heavy/painful periods and may make them less frequent or stop altogether.
  • Fertility rapidly returns as soon as it is removed.
  • There will be no need to take pills, interrupt sex or attend clinic regularly after insertion.

What’s not so great about it?

  • No protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) - condoms advised.
  • You need to see a trained health care provider to remove it.
  • May cause temporary side effects such as acne, moodiness, breast tenderness which often improve after a few months.
  • Periods may stop, be irregular, heavier or prolonged.
  • Some medicines may stop the implant from working.

Where can I get it?

  • Click here to text for an appointment at Chelsea and Westminster Sexual Health service.
  • Family planning clinics, some GPs and other sexual health clinics.

Text booking now 

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