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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.

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What is it?

  • An operation that results in permanent contraception for women who have completed their family or who never want children.

How does it work?

  • The fallopian tubes (which carry the egg from the ovary to the womb) are blocked off meaning the egg and sperm can’t meet to fertilise.

What’s great about it?

  • Extremely effective (>99%). Less than one in 200 sterilised women per year will fall pregnant.
  • It’s permanent so no need to use contraception again or attend for clinic visits.
  • No hormones involved so no side effects and your periods are unaffected.

What’s not so great about it?

  • The fallopian tubes can rejoin after the operation meaning the sterilisation may not work and you could become pregnant.
  • No protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) - condoms advised.
  • Involves surgery and anesthetic and the risks associated with these.
  • Its permanent - some women decide they want a child/more children and regret being sterilised. Procedures to reverse the sterilisation may not be successful.
  • Long acting contraceptives like the Cu-IUD, Mirena and Implant are just as effective and do not require an operation.

 Where can I get it?

  • This procedure is provided wthin specialised family planning services. Your GP can refer you.

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