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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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What is it?

  • A small, thin, plastic adhesive square that sticks to your skin and releases oestrogen and progesterone hormones.

How does it work?

  • The patch is changed and rotated to a different site (chest, stomach, back, arms or buttocks) every week for three weeks out of four. The fourth week is a patch free break 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 it is >99% effective - less than one in 100 women will get pregnant each year. However patch users often do not use it properly - with such typical more women will fall pregnant each year (8 in 100).
  • No need to take pills or use something every time you have sex.
  • 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.
  • It is not affected if you vomit or have diarrhoea. 

What’s not so great about it?

  • No protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) - condoms advised.
  • It can be visible depending on where it is placed.
  • It can be difficult remembering to change the patch. If you forget to do this 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.
  • Can cause skin irritation at the application site.
  • Needs a regular prescription from a health care provider.
  • 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 daily pill taken by mouth containing the hormone progesterone.

How does it work?

  • One pill is taken every day.
  • 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. Some POPs also stop ovulation (eggs being released from the ovaries).

What’s great about it?

  • Very Effective. If taken perfectly it is >99% effective - less than one in 100 women will get pregnant each year. If it is not taken perfectly more women may fall pregnant.
  • Periods may stop or become lighter or less frequent.
  • Its effect on fertility is rapidly reversible.
  • Can be used by women who cannot take oestrogen (COC/Patch/ring) e.g. overweight women.

What’s not so great about it?

  • No protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) - condoms advised.
  • It needs to be taken at the same time each day otherwise it may stop working. It can be difficult remembering to take the pill on time.
  • Periods may stop, be irregular, prolonged or more frequent. This may settle with time.
  • Can cause side-effects such as spotty skin, breast tenderness or weight change but these should settle within a few months.
  • Some women get ovarian cysts.
  • Needs a regular prescription from a health care provider.
  • Its effectiveness can be reduced if you vomit or have diarrhoea.
  • Some medications can stop it 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?

  • Injection of the hormone progesterone - given every three months by a health care professional.

How does it work?

  • 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?

  • Very effective. Less than 1 in 250 women will get pregnant over two years.
  • No need to take pills or use something every time you have sex.
  • Contraception lasts for 12 weeks.  
  • May help heavy, painful periods or pre-menstrual tension.
  • Periods may stop or become less frequent. After 1 year 50% women have no periods and by two years most women will not have periods.
  • Not affected by other medications, vomiting or diarrhoea.
  • Can be used in women who cannot tolerate or use oestrogen containing contraceptives (COC/patch/ring) e.g. overweight women.

What’s not so great about it?

  • No protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) - condoms advised.
  • Periods may be irregular, heavier or prolonged. However bleeding tends to become less frequent and lighter or stop altogether after 6-12 months.
  • Needs a regular injection by appointment with a health care provider.
  • Some women gain weight (up to 3kg over two years). Note some lose it too.
  • May cause bone thinning, however this resolves when you stop receiving injections and is not associated with broken bones.
  • Periods and fertility may take time to return after stopping the injection - average of 7 months.
  • Can cause side effects e.g. mood change, tiredness, headache. Unacceptable side effects will usually not resolve until the injection wears off (up to 12 weeks).

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, flexible ring that you place in your vagina. It releases the hormones progesterone and oestrogen.

How does it work?

  • The ring stays in place for three weeks out of four. The fourth week is a ring free break during which time you may get your period.
  • 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?

  • Very Effective. If taken perfectly it is >99% effective - less than one in 100 women using it will get pregnant. Some women may not use it correctly and such typical use can result in more women falling pregnant.
  • Its effect on fertility is quickly reversible.
  • No need to take pills or use something every time you have sex.
  • 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.
  • It is not affected if you vomit or have diarrhoea.

What’s not so great about it?

  • No protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) - condoms advised.
  • Small increased risk of heart or stroke disease, thromboses (blood clots) in the legs/lungs, breast cancer and cervical cancer.
  • Can cause temporary side-effects such as headaches, mood change, breast tenderness, bleeding in between periods and vaginal discharge. These may wear off with time.
  • Needs a 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.

Text booking now

What is it?

  • Continuous breastfeeding for up to 6 months - feeding the baby at least every 4 hours during the day, and at least every 6 hours at night without using any expressed milk or formula milk.

How does it work?

  • While you are breastfeeding continuously, your body doesn't make the hormone needed to release eggs.

What’s great about it?

  • Very effective - less than 1 out of 100 women will get pregnant each year.
  • Safe, simple, free and convenient.

What’s not so great about it?

  • You need to have a baby!
  • No protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) – condoms advised.
  • Some women find it difficult to only feed their baby breast milk.
  • Only works for about 6 months. 

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