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Best Contraceptive Choice After Having A Baby
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You may be fertile again within a few weeks of your baby’s birth, so it makes sense to think about contraception even before you’re ready to have sex again. Here’s how to choose the contraceptive that’s right for you.

  • Male condom
  • Female condom
  • Diaphragm or cap
  • The pill
  • The mini-pill
  • Contraceptive implants
  • Contraceptive patch
  • Vaginal ring
  • Contraceptive injections
  • Intrauterine system (IUS)
  • IUD or coil
  • Natural birth control methods
  • Female sterilisation
  • Vasectomy

 

Male condom

You may find condoms are the easiest type of contraceptive to use, because you can just keep some handy.

A good choice if you: NOT a good choice if you:
are breastfeeding are allergic to latex (look for condoms made from polyisoprene or polyurethane)
prefer not to take hormones prefer not to interrupt foreplay to use contraception
want the freedom to have sex without having to insert or apply anything to your body beforehand  
are a smoker  
want protection against sexually transmitted infections  

Reliability: 98 per cent effective when used correctly. The Family Planning Association has more about information about male condoms.

 

Female condom

A female condom sits inside your vagina and around the outside of your labia.

A good choice if you: NOT a good choice if you:
prefer not to take hormones prefer not to insert a device into your body
are breastfeeding prefer not to interrupt foreplay to use contraception

feel comfortable inserting a device into your body  
are a smoker  
want protection against sexually transmitted infections  

Reliability: 95 per cent effective when used correctly. The Family Planning Association has more about information about female condoms

 

 

Diaphragms and caps

Diaphragms and caps are soft, circular domes made of rubber or silicone. You insert your diaphragm or cap into your vagina each time you want to have sex.

A good choice if you: NOT a good choice if you:
prefer not to take hormones prefer not to insert a device into your body
are breastfeeding are allergic to latex or spermicides (necessary for effective use)
feel comfortable inserting a device into your body don’t want the hassle of using spermicidal jelly or cream
are a smoker prefer not to interrupt foreplay to use contraception
  are prone to urinary infections
  have very weak vaginal muscles

Reliability: between 92 per cent and 96 per cent effective when used correctly, and with spermicide. The Family Planning Association has more information about diaphragms and caps.

The combined pill

The combined pill, usually just called the pill, contains two hormones, oestrogen and progestogen. You take the pill every day for 21 days and then have seven pill-free days once in every 28 days.

A good choice if you: NOT a good choice if you:
want the freedom to have sex without having to insert or apply anything beforehand prefer not to take hormones
are happy to take hormones are breastfeeding
have painful periods are 35 or older and smoke or stopped smoking less than a year ago
have irregular periods have had a heart problem or circulatory disease including blood clots (thrombosis) in any vein or artery, or high blood pressure
have heavy periods can’t remember to take or don’t want to be bothered with a daily pill
have problems with premenstrual symptoms don’t want any changes to your periods, even if only for a few months
have acne have breast cancer or have had breast cancer in the past five years
are a non-smoker have diabetes with complications or have had diabetes for more than 20 years
  are overweight
  experience very severe migraines, or migraines with auras
  have active disease of the liver or gall bladder
  are taking certain medicines (check with your doctor)

Reliability: more than 99 per cent effective when taken correctly. The Family Planning Association has more information about the combined pill.

The mini-pill or progestogen-only pill (POP)

The mini-pill contains the hormone progestogen. You take the mini-pill every day, at the same time of day.

A good choice if you: NOT a good choice if you:
are happy to take hormones prefer not to take hormones
have irregular periods can’t remember to take or don’t want the bother of taking a pill at the same time every day
are breastfeeding have a history of breast or liver cancer
have painful periods have a history of ovarian cysts
want the freedom to have sex without having to insert or apply anything beforehand have had an ectopic pregnancy
are a smoker and aged 35 or older have had unexplained vaginal bleeding (between periods or after sex)
have problems with premenstrual symptoms don’t want any changes to your periods

Reliability: more than 99 per cent effective when taken correctly. The Family Planning Association has more information about the mini-pill.

Contraceptive implants

An implant is a small, thin, flexible plastic tube, about the size of a hair grip. The tube contains progestogen which is released into your body. An implant lasts for up to three years.

A good choice if you: NOT a good choice if you:
are looking for long-term contraception don’t want any changes to your periods
are breastfeeding have breast cancer or have had breast cancer in the past five years
are happy to take hormones have a history of serious heart disease, stroke or disease of the arteries
have heavy periods have had blood clots (thrombosis) in any vein or artery
want the freedom to have sex without having to insert or apply anything beforehand have unexplained vaginal bleeding (such as between periods or after sex)
can’t remember to take or don’t want to be bothered with a daily pill  
would like to use a method which may stop your periods  

Reliability: more than 99 per cent effective when used correctly. The Family Planning Association has more information about contraceptive implants.

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Contraceptive patch

The patch releases a daily dose of oestrogen and progestogen into your bloodstream through your skin. Each patch lasts for seven days, and you have a patch-free seven days once in every 28 days. It works in the same way as the combined pill.

A good choice if you: NOT a good choice if you:
are happy to take hormones prefer not to take hormones
have irregular periods are breastfeeding
have painful periods are 35 or over and smoke or stopped smoking within the past year
have problems with premenstrual symptoms have had a heart problem or circulatory disease, including blood clots (thrombosis) in any vein or artery, or high blood pressure
want the freedom to have sex without having to insert or apply anything beforehand are very overweight
can’t remember to take or don’t want to be bothered with a daily pill have breast cancer or have had breast cancer in the past five years
are a non-smoker have sensitive skin
have heavy periods experience severe migraines, or migraines with auras
  have disease of the liver or gall bladder
  have diabetes with complications or have had diabetes for more than 20 years
  take certain medicines (check with your doctor)

Reliability: more than 99 per cent effective when used correctly. The Family Planning Association has more information about the contraceptive patch.

Vaginal ring

The vaginal ring is a slender, flexible, plastic ring that you put in your vagina for a set period of time. The ring releases the hormones oestrogen and progestogen. A ring lasts for 21 days, and you have a ring-free seven days once in every 28 days.

A good choice if you: NOT a good choice if you:
are happy to take hormones prefer not to take hormones
have irregular periods are breastfeeding
have painful periods are 35 or older and smoke or stopped smoking within the past year
have problems with premenstrual symptoms have had a heart problem or circulatory disease including blood clots (thrombosis) in any vein or artery, or high blood pressure
want the freedom to have sex without having to insert or apply anything during foreplay are very overweight
can’t remember to take or don’t want to be bothered with a daily pill have breast cancer or have had breast cancer in the past five years
are a non-smoker experience very severe migraines, or migraines with auras
have heavy periods have disease of the liver or gall bladder
  have diabetes with complications or have had diabetes for more than 20 years
  take certain medicines (check with your doctor)
  have unexplained bleeding (such as between periods or after sex)
  have current cervical, ovarian, vaginal or uterine cancer
  prefer not to insert a device into your body
  have weak vaginal muscles
  don’t want any change to your periods for the first few months

Reliability: more than 99 per cent effective when used correctly. The Family Planning Association has more information about the vaginal ring.

Contraceptive injections

Two types of injection are available: one that lasts for 12 weeks, and one that lasts for eight weeks. The injections result in the slow release of progestogen into your muscle.

A good choice if you: NOT a good choice if you:
are happy to take hormones prefer not to take hormones
are breastfeeding hate injections
know you don’t want to get pregnant again in the next year want to get pregnant again in the next year
can’t remember to take or don’t want the bother of a daily pill have a history of blood clots (thrombosis) in any vein or artery
are a smoker have a history of liver disease
want the freedom to have sex without having to insert or apply anything beforehand have breast cancer or have had breast cancer in the past five years
have heavy or painful periods or premenstrual symptoms are at risk of thinning bones (osteoporosis)
are looking for long-term contraception have a history of serious heart disease or have had disease of the arteries
would like to use a method which may stop your periods have unexplained bleeding (such as between periods or after sex)
  have diabetes with complications or have had diabetes for more than 20 years
  don’t want a change to your periods
  don’t want to put on weight (women tend to put on up to 3kg over three years of use)

Reliability: 99 per cent effective if you get your injections on time. The Family Planning Association has more information about contraceptive injections.

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Intrauterine system (IUS)

An IUS is a T-shaped plastic device that fits inside your uterus. It releases a steady dose of progestogen for up to five years.

A good choice if you: NOT a good choice if you:
are happy to take hormones prefer not to take hormones
are breastfeeding have an untreated sexually transmitted infection or pelvic infection
can’t remember to take or don’t want the bother of a daily pill have abnormalities in your uterus, fibroids, or cervical problems, including an abnormal smear or cervical cancer
are a smoker have active liver disease
are looking for long-term contraception have unexplained bleeding from your vagina (such as bleeding between periods or after sex)
have heavy periods have breast cancer or have had breast cancer in the past five years
have painful periods have serious heart disease or stroke or have disease of the arteries
would like to use a method which may stop your periods have blood clots in any vein or artery
want the freedom to have sex without having to insert or apply anything beforehand don’t want any changes to your periods

Reliability: more than 99 per cent effective. The Family Planning Association has more information about the IUS.

Intrauterine device (IUD) or coil

An IUD or coil can be fitted for three years to 10 years, depending which type you have. IUDs sit inside your uterus and stop sperm reaching an egg or stop a fertilised egg implanting.

A good choice if you: NOT a good choice if you:
are breastfeeding are allergic to copper
can’t remember to take or don’t want the bother of a daily pill have abnormalities in your uterus, fibroids, or cervical problems, including an abnormal smear or cervical cancer
are looking for long-term contraception have heavy bleeding or severe cramping during periods
want the freedom to have sex without having to insert or apply anything beforehand have an untreated sexually transmitted infection or pelvic infection
  have unexplained bleeding from your vagina (such as bleeding between periods or after sex)
  don’t want heavier, longer or more painful periods

Reliability: IUDs that contain more copper are more than 99 per cent effective. The Family Planning Association has more information about the IUD or coil.

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Natural family planning (NFP)

NFP pinpoints your fertile days so you can avoid sex, or use a barrier method, on those days.

A good choice if you: NOT a good choice if you:
prefer not to take hormones are a busy, new mum who may not have the time and energy to chart your cycle or monitor your bodily discharges every day
are breastfeeding have irregular periods or very long or very short cycles
have predictable, regular periods are looking for an extremely reliable method of birth control
are willing to take the time and energy to chart your cycle or monitor your cervical mucus or urine every day  
want the freedom to have sex without having to insert or apply anything beforehand  

Reliability: Depending on the method you choose and how disciplined you are about using it, you can prevent pregnancy up to 99 per cent of the time. If you are serious about NFP, you need to learn about it from a qualified teacher. For a list of qualified natural family planning teachers, contact Fertility UK. The Family Planning Association has more information aboutNFP.

Female sterilisation (tubal occlusion)

This operation involves cutting, sealing or blocking the fallopian tubes. This prevents your eggs from meeting sperm and becoming fertilised.

A good choice if you: NOT a good choice if you:
are 100 per cent sure you don’t want more children want more children
are breastfeeding don’t want to have a surgical procedure
want the freedom to have sex without having to think about contraception are more likely to regret the procedure later, if you are under 30, don’t have children, or are not in a relationship
are not happy to take hormones  

Reliability: About one woman in 200 will get pregnant after sterilisation. NHS Choices has more information about female sterilisation.

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Male sterilisation (vasectomy)

This operation involves sealing the tubes that carry sperm out of the testicles, preventing sperm from being ejaculated.

A good choice for: NOT a good choice for:
couples who are 100 per cent sure they don’t want more children couples who want more children
couples who want the freedom to have sex without having to think about contraception men who don’t want to have a surgical procedure
  men who are more likely to regret the procedure later on, if they’re under 30, don’t have any children, or are not in a relationship

 

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