Which is right for me?
There are 13 main methods available for women, and two for men (the male condom and male sterilisation/vasectomy).
We’ve grouped them in a table below based on how frequently you need to take the contraception, how effective they are, and whether or not they protect you against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). If you want to make sure you are protected from STIs every time you have sex, use a condom even if you’re taking another contraceptive method.
We know that there may be other reasons for choosing the best contraception for you, so make sure you click through to find out more about each contraception, including advantages and disadvantages and where you can get them.
|Contraception||Frequency||Effectiveness if used correctly (estimates)||Protects against STIs|
|Male condom||Each time you have sex.||98%.||Yes.|
|Female condom||Each time you have sex.||95%.||Yes.|
|Diaphragm/cap||Each time you have sex.||92-96% when used with spermicide.||No.|
|Withdrawal method||Each time you have sex.||78%||No.|
|Combined pill||Every day (at roughly the same time).||Over 99%.||No.|
|Progestogen-only pill||Every day (at roughly the same time).||Over 99%.||No.|
|Natural family planning||Every day (to record your fertility signs).||Over 99%, according to teaching and instructions.||No.|
|Contraceptive patch||Every week.||Over 99%.||No.|
|Vaginal ring||Every month.||Over 99%.||No.|
|Contraceptive injection*||Every 2 to 3 months.||Over 99%.||No.|
|Contraceptive implant*||Up to every 3 years.||99.9%.||No.|
|Intrauterine device (IUD)*||Up to every 5-10 years.||99.2%||No.|
|Intrauterine system (IUS)*||Up to every 5-10 years.||99.8%||No.|
|Male sterilisation (vasectomy)||Permanent.||99.9%||No.|
|Emergency contraceptive pill (morning after pill)||Can be taken up to 3 to 5 days after having sex without a condom, depending on the type used.||Varies – this is effective but not as effective as the emergency IUD||No.|
|Emergency intrauterine device (IUD)||Can be taken up to five days after having sex without a condom or up to 5 days after you ovulate (release an egg).||99.9%||No.|
* These methods all known as “Long Acting Reversible Contraception”. They are often recommended by medical professionals because they are totally reversible, won’t affect your fertility, are safer than the pill or condom in preventing unwanted pregnancy and last for up to 10 years.
If you’re still unsure about which method of contraception is right for you, we recommend having a look at My Contraception Tool which was designed by Brook, FPA and a team of software developers, academics and researchers.
It’s a web tool that will help you work out what’s most important to you when it comes to making decisions about contraception by asking some simple questions.
The tool can be used if you are male, or female, and whatever age you are. There are two options – the short option which will take about five minutes, and the long one, which is much more detailed and takes about 20 minutes.