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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 breastfeedingare allergic to latex (look for condoms made from polyisoprene or polyurethane)
prefer not to take hormonesprefer 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 hormonesprefer not to insert a device into your body
are breastfeedingprefer 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 hormonesprefer not to insert a device into your body
are breastfeedingare allergic to latex or spermicides (necessary for effective use)
feel comfortable inserting a device into your bodydon’t want the hassle of using spermicidal jelly or cream
are a smokerprefer 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 beforehandprefer not to take hormones
are happy to take hormonesare breastfeeding
have painful periodsare 35 or older and smoke or stopped smoking less than a year ago
have irregular periodshave had a heart problem or circulatory disease including blood clots (thrombosis) in any vein or artery, or high blood pressure
have heavy periodscan’t remember to take or don’t want to be bothered with a daily pill
have problems with premenstrual symptomsdon’t want any changes to your periods, even if only for a few months
have acnehave breast cancer or have had breast cancer in the past five years
are a non-smokerhave 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 hormonesprefer not to take hormones
have irregular periodscan’t remember to take or don’t want the bother of taking a pill at the same time every day
are breastfeedinghave a history of breast or liver cancer
have painful periodshave a history of ovarian cysts
want the freedom to have sex without having to insert or apply anything beforehandhave had an ectopic pregnancy
are a smoker and aged 35 or olderhave had unexplained vaginal bleeding (between periods or after sex)
have problems with premenstrual symptomsdon’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 contraceptiondon’t want any changes to your periods
are breastfeedinghave breast cancer or have had breast cancer in the past five years
are happy to take hormoneshave a history of serious heart disease, stroke or disease of the arteries
have heavy periodshave had blood clots (thrombosis) in any vein or artery
want the freedom to have sex without having to insert or apply anything beforehandhave 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 hormonesprefer not to take hormones
have irregular periodsare breastfeeding
have painful periodsare 35 or over and smoke or stopped smoking within the past year
have problems with premenstrual symptomshave 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 beforehandare very overweight
can’t remember to take or don’t want to be bothered with a daily pillhave breast cancer or have had breast cancer in the past five years
are a non-smokerhave sensitive skin
have heavy periodsexperience 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 hormonesprefer not to take hormones
have irregular periodsare breastfeeding
have painful periodsare 35 or older and smoke or stopped smoking within the past year
have problems with premenstrual symptomshave 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 foreplayare very overweight
can’t remember to take or don’t want to be bothered with a daily pillhave breast cancer or have had breast cancer in the past five years
are a non-smokerexperience very severe migraines, or migraines with auras
have heavy periodshave 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 hormonesprefer not to take hormones
are breastfeedinghate injections
know you don’t want to get pregnant again in the next yearwant to get pregnant again in the next year
can’t remember to take or don’t want the bother of a daily pillhave a history of blood clots (thrombosis) in any vein or artery
are a smokerhave a history of liver disease
want the freedom to have sex without having to insert or apply anything beforehandhave breast cancer or have had breast cancer in the past five years
have heavy or painful periods or premenstrual symptomsare at risk of thinning bones (osteoporosis)
are looking for long-term contraceptionhave a history of serious heart disease or have had disease of the arteries
would like to use a method which may stop your periodshave 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 hormonesprefer not to take hormones
are breastfeedinghave an untreated sexually transmitted infection or pelvic infection
can’t remember to take or don’t want the bother of a daily pillhave abnormalities in your uterus, fibroids, or cervical problems, including an abnormal smear or cervical cancer
are a smokerhave active liver disease
are looking for long-term contraceptionhave unexplained bleeding from your vagina (such as bleeding between periods or after sex)
have heavy periodshave breast cancer or have had breast cancer in the past five years
have painful periodshave serious heart disease or stroke or have disease of the arteries
would like to use a method which may stop your periodshave blood clots in any vein or artery
want the freedom to have sex without having to insert or apply anything beforehanddon’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 breastfeedingare allergic to copper
can’t remember to take or don’t want the bother of a daily pillhave abnormalities in your uterus, fibroids, or cervical problems, including an abnormal smear or cervical cancer
are looking for long-term contraceptionhave heavy bleeding or severe cramping during periods
want the freedom to have sex without having to insert or apply anything beforehandhave 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 hormonesare a busy, new mum who may not have the time and energy to chart your cycle or monitor your bodily discharges every day
are breastfeedinghave irregular periods or very long or very short cycles
have predictable, regular periodsare 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 childrenwant more children
are breastfeedingdon’t want to have a surgical procedure
want the freedom to have sex without having to think about contraceptionare 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 childrencouples who want more children
couples who want the freedom to have sex without having to think about contraceptionmen 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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