What is the best contraception method for you?

August 3, 2022

Contraception can be confusing! To help you, our experts have investigated some of the more popular contraceptives in Australia including how they work, and who they’re best suited for, so you can make an informed choice about the best contraception method for you. 

What contraception is right for you?

IUD options

An intrauterine device, or IUD, is a small contraceptive device that is inserted into the uterus by a trained doctor or nurse via the vagina. It has a thread that allows for easy removal, but it sits high enough inside you that the thread cannot be seen, and it does not interfere with sex or your ability to use a tampon.

IUDs are 99 per cent effective, last 5-10 years, and come in two types:

1. Copper IUD – slowly releases copper into your uterus which helps prevent pregnancy.

2. Hormonal IUD – sold in Australia under the brand name Mirena, it slowly releases the hormone progestogen into your uterus which helps prevent pregnancy.

What contraception is right for you?
An IUD birth control copper coil device.

Morning after pill

Also known as the ‘emergency pill’, the morning after pill can help prevent pregnancy after sex. It’s effective 80–98 per cent of the time, and is more effective the sooner you take it, although some can be taken up to five days after sex.

The morning after pill works by stopping you from ovulating, and also by slowing down sperm, so the chances of any sperm reaching an egg are minimised. You can take the morning after pill as many times as you would like, but it’s likely to upset your menstrual cycle if you take it twice in the same month. The lower rate of effectiveness means the morning after pill is recommended as an emergency measure rather than a regular contraceptive.

Condom

A condom for men works by creating a barrier that collects semen so it does not enter the vagina, which means it also prevents many other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) from passing from one person to the other.

To put it on, place the condom against the end of the erect penis, and gently unroll it down to the base. It should fit comfortably but firmly. If it doesn’t go on the first time, or if it tears, throw the condom away and try again with a new one. If the condom breaks, the morning after pill can provide back-up contraception, and you may also wish to talk to your doctor about potential exposure to STIs.

When used correctly, condoms are 95­–99 per cent effective.

Female condom

Like the male condom, the female condom provides a barrier and pouch that collects sperm, but the female condom is a soft pouch that is inserted into the vagina before having sex.

The female condom has flexible rings at each end, with one end enclosed. The open end spreads outside of the vagina, and you guide the penis into it.

Diaphragm

A diaphragm is a flexible silicone dome that acts as a barrier across the cervix. It is inserted into the vagina like a tampon before sex. The diaphragm needs to be left in place for at least six hours after sex to prevent sperm from reaching the uterus, and can then be removed by hooking your finger under the front rim and gently pulling it out.

Diaphragms are 86 per cent effective with ‘perfect’ use, and 82 per cent effective with ‘real life’ use, but it can be an option if you require non-hormonal birth control. 

A diaphragm generally costs around $100 and can be purchased from a family planning clinic.

What contraception is right for you?
Birth control pills.

Contraceptive pill

The oral contraceptive pill contains either oestrogen and progestogen or just progestogen (known as ‘the mini pill’). Both pills work by preventing the body from releasing an egg and thickening the fluid around the cervix to stop sperm from entering.

When used correctly, the pill is 99 per cent effective, but this requires you to take it at the same time each day. Allowing for some human error, the effectiveness rate is closer to 93 per cent. 

The hormones in the pill can cause side effects in a small number of people, including irregular bleeding, nausea, sore breasts, headaches, bloating, skin changes and mood changes. In some people, the pill can help improve the appearance of acne.

It’s important to check with your doctor about whether any other medications you’re taking could interfere with the effectiveness of the pill.

If you would like a repeat script for a contraceptive medication you are already on, you can check out our express scripts service. Otherwise, speak to one of our friendly, Australian-registered doctors about a contraception option. We have experts in women’s health available via Telehealth consultation seven days a week, between 7am and 11pm.

To speak with an InstantScripts GP:

Request Consultation

To request a script:

Find Your Medication

NuvaRing

Vaginal rings, which are sold under the brand NuvaRing in Australia, are a soft plastic ring that contain oestrogen and progestogen, providing a similar hormonal dose as the contraceptive pill, but without having to remember to take it daily. Like the pill, it can cause side effects in a small number of users, such as sore breasts, increased vaginal discharge, nausea, irregular bleeding and headaches.

It is inserted into the vagina, just like a tampon, for up to three weeks at a time. After you take your NuvarRing out, you will usually have your period, although you can skip this by immediately inserting another ring. Inserted correctly, a NuvaRing is 99 per cent effective.  

Vaginal ring for contraceptive use.

Contraceptive implant

The contraceptive implant, sold as Implanon in Australia, is a small plastic stick inserted by a trained doctor or nurse into the arm, which provides a slow release of progesterone. It works by preventing your ovaries from releasing an egg each month, and is 99 per cent effective.

Implanon lasts up to three years and is then removed by your doctor or nurse. It can cause irregular bleeding, which can become more frequent, or disappear entirely (which is not harmful), and in a small number of users, progesterone can cause headaches, bloating, skin changes, tender breasts or mood changes.

Contraceptive injection

The contraceptive injection is a synthetic hormone which stops the body from releasing eggs, as well as thickening fluid at the entrance to the uterus to stop sperm from entering. Sold as Depo-Provera or Depo-Ralovera in Australia, the injection needs to be given in the first five days of the menstrual cycle every 12 weeks to be most effective. If used correctly, the contraceptive injection is 94–99 per cent effective.

The injection is safe for most women, but it can cause irregular periods, weight gain, moodiness, headaches, decreased sex drive and acne. It can also take up to 18 months for full fertility to return. Although a male contraceptive injection has been developed, it is not yet available to the public.

More women’s health information

If you would like to speak to one of our friendly, Australian-registered doctors about a contraception option, we have experts in women’s health available via Telehealth consultation 7 days a week, between 7am and 11pm.

Here are some more articles that may help in your research and understanding.

Sources:

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/contraception-intrauterine-devices-iud

https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/morning-after-pill

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/contraception-condoms-for-men

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/contraception-condoms-for-women

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/contraception-the-pill

https://www.fpnsw.org.au/factsheets/individuals/contraception/contraceptive-diaphragm

https://www.abc.net.au/everyday/diaphragm-birth-control-how-it-works-effectiveness/10959560

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/contraception-vaginal-ring

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/contraception-implants

https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/contraceptive-injection

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