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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.

The injection is a very reliable contraceptive. It is given to a woman every 12 weeks and works by stopping her from making an egg. The main side effect is irregular bleeding which happens after the first injection but usually periods stop altogether after 2 or 3 injections. Sometimes the injection can cause mild hormone side effects like weight gain but this is not usually the case.

Find out more about The Injection at the NHS Choices website

Where can I get it


The implant is very reliable contraception. It is a small plastic rod which is fitted into a woman's arm and it works by releasing a hormone. It lasts for 3 years but can be taken out at any time. Once it is fitted you can forget about it until it is time to be renewed.

The most common side effect is irregular bleeding and it is very unlikely that you will get regular periods. Sometimes it can cause mild hormone side effects like sore breasts or acne. It is usually fitted after a local anaesthetic injection, and when it is removed an anaesthetic is used again and a small cut is made to remove it.

Information about Implanon

Where to get it:

Go to the Walk-In Services 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

An IUS is a plastic T shape device which is fitted inside the womb to prevent pregnancy. It is a very reliable method ( failure < 0.2%). It releases a hormone and mainly acts by making the wall of the womb very thin and stopping the movement of sperm. This means that it is also very good at making your periods lighter.

The main side effect is irregular bleeding for the first few weeks after the fit and then usually periods become lighter. It is a little bit larger than the IUD so it is not always very easy to fit if you had not had babies before. There is a small chance of infection in the first few weeks after it is fitted. Very rarely the IUS can move or fall out so the doctor or nurse who fits the coil for you will teach you how to check that it is still in place. When the IUS is removed your fertility returns to normal.

Where to get it:

Go to the Walk-In Services section to find your nearest clinic.

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 ring is made of a type of plastic and releases hormones. It is put in the vagina for 3 weeks and is then removed for a week. During the week without the ring, the woman will have a bleed like a period. The ring can 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


'The pill' is very reliable if it is taken correctly. Unfortunately it is very easy to forget to take it, so the failure rate can be as high as 8%. It works by stopping a woman from making eggs and causing changes in the woman's body so that sperm cannot reach an egg.

The pill is usually very safe but some women should not use it especially those with bad migraine headaches or those who have ever had a blood clot (thrombosis).It is also not the safest method if you smoke heavily or are overweight because it can sometimes cause an increased risk of having a blood clot.

The combined pill usually comes in packets of 21 tablets. These are usually started on the first day of your period and a tablet is taken for 3 weeks at the same time every day. After this, you do not take pills for 7 days (7 day break) and in this break you will have a bleed like a period. After this 7days, the next packet of pills is started. If you forget one tablet it does not usually matter, but if you forget more than one tablet it is best to use condoms as well as pills for 7 days. The worst tablets to forget are those just before and just after the 7 day break, and it is important to remember that antibiotics might make your pill not work properly. If you are worried, you should always call your GP or CASH clinic for advice.

The pill usually only causes very mild side effects e.g. sometimes feeling sick or headaches. It is always important to discuss any side effects as often the type of pill you are taking can be changed to help improve this.

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 mini-pill mainly acts by stopping sperm from reaching an egg but sometimes it can stop an egg from being made (especially the pill called Cerazette). This type of pill is very safe in most medical conditions. The mini pill is taken at the same time every day and there is no 7 day break. If you forget the mini-pill you have up to 3 hours to remember it ( 12 hours for Cerazette). If it is later than this you must use condoms as well as the mini pill for 2 days (7 days for Cerazette).The commonest side effects are irregular bleeding and sometimes mild hormone side effects like 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


The patch is a small sticky square which a woman sticks to her body e.g. on the arm or thigh. The patch releases hormones and works very similarly to 'the pill'. The patch is changed once a week for 3 weeks and then there is a week ' Patch free break' during which the woman will have a bleed like a period. Side effects are 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 Emergency Pill ( Levonelle) is a tablet which can be taken after you have had unprotected sex e.g. condom broke, condom not there, missed pills. It works best if it is taken as soon as possible. It is usually given up to 72 hours after the unprotected sex but can sometimes be given up to 5 days afterwards. There is a small failure rate sometimes so if a woman does not have a normal period after taking it she should do a pregnancy test.


Where to get it:

Go to the Walk-In Services 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


Both male and female sterilisation involve surgery and are usually performed at the hospital (sometimes male sterilisation can occur at a special clinic). Female sterilisation is performed under a general anaesthetic and male sterilisation is usually performed with a local anaesthetic. Both procedures are permanent and are usually not reversible. Reversal attempts are not usually available on the NHS so would need to be paid for privately.


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