A Comprehensive Guide To Birth Control

Sexual activity is an enjoyable and intimate experience that can lead to unintended pregnancy. Fortunately, there are many contraception options available that can help prevent unwanted pregnancies. This article will provide an overview of the different types of contraception options available in the UK, their effectiveness, and how to choose the best option for you.

Methods of Contraception

There are various methods that contraception can be used. Below are the most popular ones:

Barrier Methods

Barrier methods of contraception work by preventing sperm from reaching the egg. These methods include male and female condoms, diaphragms, and cervical caps. Male condoms are made of latex or polyurethane and are worn over the penis. Female condoms are made of polyurethane and are worn inside the vagina. Diaphragms and cervical caps are small, flexible devices that are inserted into the vagina to cover the cervix. Barrier methods are easy to use and do not require a prescription. However, they are less effective than hormonal contraceptives, and their effectiveness can be reduced if not used correctly.

Hormonal Methods

Hormonal methods of contraception work by preventing ovulation. These methods include the combined pill, the progestogen-only pill, the contraceptive patch, the contraceptive injection, and the contraceptive implant.

The combined pill contains both oestrogen and progestogen hormones and is taken orally once a day. The progestogen-only pill contains only progestogen hormone and is taken orally once a day. The contraceptive patch is a small patch that is placed on the skin and releases hormones into the bloodstream. The contraceptive injection is a shot that is given every 12 weeks.

The contraceptive implant is a small, flexible rod that is inserted under the skin in the upper arm and can last up to three years. Hormonal methods are highly effective when used correctly, but they require a prescription and may have side effects.

Intrauterine Devices

Intrauterine devices (IUDs) are small, T-shaped devices that are inserted into the uterus by a healthcare provider. There are two types of IUDs: copper IUDs and hormonal IUDs. Copper IUDs work by preventing fertilisation and can last up to 10 years. Hormonal IUDs release progestogen hormone and can last up to five years. IUDs are highly effective and do not require daily attention. However, they can be expensive and require a visit to a healthcare provider for insertion and removal.

Fertility Awareness-Based Methods

Fertility awareness-based methods work by tracking a woman’s menstrual cycle to identify when she is most fertile and avoiding sexual activity during that time. These methods include the
calendar method, the basal body temperature method, and the cervical mucus method. Fertility awareness-based methods are natural and do not require hormones or devices. However, they require commitment and diligence to track the menstrual cycle accurately.


Sterilisation is a permanent form of contraception that involves blocking or cutting the fallopian tubes or vas deferens. Sterilisation is highly effective and does not require daily attention. However, it is a permanent decision and should only be considered if a person is sure they do not want to have children in the future.


The effectiveness of contraception methods varies. The most effective methods are hormonal IUDs, copper IUDs, and sterilisation, with a failure rate of less than 1%. The least effective methods are barrier methods and fertility awareness-based methods, with a failure rate of 12-24%. Hormonal methods are highly effective when used correctly, but their effectiveness can be reduced if not used consistently.

Choosing a method

Choosing a contraception method can be a personal and complex decision. When choosing a method, it is essential to consider factors such as effectiveness, cost, ease of use, side effects, and personal preferences. It is also important to talk to a healthcare provider who can provide information and guidance.


Contraception is an essential aspect of sexual health that can help prevent unintended pregnancy. There are many contraception options available in Ireland, including barrier methods, hormonal methods, IUDs, fertility awareness-based methods, and sterilisation. Each method has its advantages and disadvantages, and it is important to consider personal factors when choosing a method. By making an informed choice, individuals can enjoy sexual activity while protecting themselves from unwanted pregnancy.

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