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What is Contraception?

Contraception refers the range of methods used to prevent pregnancy.   Barrier methods of contraception include condoms and female condoms which protect against some Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and pregnancy. 

There is also a method of contraception called emergency contraception that can be used after unprotected sex, to protect you from pregnancy. 

There are two types of emergency contraception.

An emergency contraceptive pill (there are two types) - some types can be taken up to five days after unprotected sex. 

The IUD (intrauterine device) this can be used up to five days after unprotected sex. It may stop an egg from being fertilised and implanting in your womb. 

It is used after unprotected sex, to protect you from pregnancy.

Emergency contraception does not protect you against sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

Remember if you have unprotected sex (sex without a condom or if the condom breaks) this always put you at risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). 

There are 15 methods of contraception available to choose from and what works for you will depend on your preferences. Contraception is free on the NHS for all ages and can be accessed through your local GP surgeries or GUM/ sexual health clinic and family planning services.   You can talk through your options with a doctor or a nurse. Many of these services also offer information, testing and treatment for STIs.

Contraception Guides

Contraception Guide - English

Contraception Guide - Arabic

Contraception Guide - French

Contraception Guide - Hungarian

Contraception Guide - Ukrainian

Contraception Guide - Romanian



Emergency Contraception

Had unprotected sex? You can use emergency contraception to reduce your risk of becoming pregnant. You need to act fast though!


You can find out more about a range of contraceptive options below. 


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Combined Pill

The combined oral contraceptive is often referred to as ‘the pill’. It contains a combination of the two hormones oestrogen and progesterone similar to those produced by the body.


Condoms are one of the only methods of contraception that can protect against pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Contraceptive Implant

The contraceptive implant is a small, flexible plastic tube, 40mm long, which is placed just under the skin in the upper arm. It releases the hormone progestogen to control your fertility.

Contraceptive Injection

The contraceptive injection contains the hormone progesterone. This hormone works to thicken the mucus in the cervix, stopping sperm from reaching an egg. It also thins the lining of the womb and, in some, prevents the release of an egg.

Contraceptive Patch

The Contraceptive patch (Evra) is similar to a plaster that sticks to your skin. It contains the hormones progesterone and oestrogen which are released into your body through your skin.

Diaphragms and Caps

Diaphragms are a method of contraception and are dome shaped devices (either latex or silicone) that are inserted into the vagina before sex. They cover the cervix so that sperm can’t get into the womb. You need to use spermicides (they kill sperm) with them.

Emergency Contraception

Had unprotected sex? You can use emergency contraception to reduce your risk of becoming pregnant. You need to act fast though!

Female Condom (Femidom)

Female Condoms - or Femidoms - are made from a soft, thin latex (or synthetic latex) material. They are worn inside the vagina, and provide a barrier to reduce the chances of pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections. 

Emergency Support

Free & confidential sexual health services for Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic communities 

Free & confidential support, advice and advocacy services for people living with HIV

Providing advice, support and resources for LGBT people to take control of their sexual health and wellbeing