The most common contraceptives used by young people are the pill and condoms. Condoms are the only form of contraceptive that offer protection against most STIs.

  • Contraceptives are what we use to prevent an unwanted pregnancy.
  • There is no 100% safe and effective method of contraception.
  • It is important to weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of each method and find one that meets your particular needs.
  • You can maybe ask your parents for advice on contraception before entering a relationship.
  • You can also go to your GP or Family Planning Clinic where there are professionals who can advice you on the method most suited to you.

the pill

  • The pill is prescribed to a woman by her doctor.
  • It works by stopping eggs being released from the woman’s ovaries.
  • It must always be taken as prescribed.
  • If you have been vomiting, are taking antibiotics or you forget to take the pill you may not be protected, and it may be best to check this with your doctor.
  • If taken correctly (every day) the pill is considered to be 99% effective against pregnancy.
  • The pill does not provide any protection against Sexually Transmitted Infections.

contraceptive injections

  • These slowly release the hormone progestogen. They can stop ovulation and prevent fertilisation.
  • Each injection lasts for 8 – 12 weeks.
  • Contraceptive injections do not provide protection against sexually transmitted infections.


  • Male condoms help prevent sperm from being released into the vagina or back passage during anal sex.
  • They are considered to be 98% effective against pregnancy when properly used.
  • Condoms can be purchased over the counter from chemists or supermarkets.
  • They help protect against most STIs.

Free condoms are available at our centre.


  • Female condoms are inserted into the vagina. It helps prevent the sperm from being released into the vagina.

the diaphragm (cap)

  • The diaphragm is a dome of thick rubber with a rim containing a flexible spring.
  • It fits inside the vagina over the cervix. It stops the sperm reaching an egg.
  • The diaphragm does not provide protection against sexually transmitted infections.

the intrauterine device (iud)

  • The IUD (or coil) is a small piece of plastic and copper placed inside the womb by a doctor.
  • It last for 3 – 10 years.
  • The IUD does not provide protection against sexually transmitted infections.

the vaginal ring

  • This is a flexible ring inserted into the vagina once a month. It works like a combined pill with lower oestrogen.
  • It is convenient to use.
  • The vaginal ring does not provide protection against sexually transmitted infections.

natural family planning

  • This is based on awareness about your fertility.
  • It is helpful to be trained by an expert in this method as it can be difficult to monitor.
  • Natural Family Planning can be difficult for young people as it relies very much on having a regular menstrual cycle.


  • These are flexible tubes containing progestogen. They are placed under the skin on the inside of the arm by a doctor.They prevent ovulation. They are a long term contraceptive, lasting up to 3 years.
  • Implants do not provide protection against sexually transmitted infections.


  • Patches are thin, beige and about the size of a matchbox.
  • They can be applied to various parts of the body but should not be put on the breasts.
  • They are used for three of the four weeks of the cycle and changed weekly.
  • They are similar to the combined contraceptive pill.
  • Patches do not provide protection against sexually transmitted infections.

emergency contraceptive pills

  • This can be used if you had sex without contraception or if you think your contraception may not have worked. It delays or stops ovulation and prevents fertilisation.
  • You must take it within 72 hours of unprotected sex.
  • The earlier you take it within the 72 hours, the more effective it will be.
  • Emergency contraceptive pills do not provide protection against sexually transmitted infections.
  • Emergency contraception (sometimes called the morning after pill) is for emergencies only and is not a substitute for contraception. It is prescribed by a GP or Family Planning Clinic.

Condom Checklist

  • Wait for the penis to go hard. With one hand, squeeze the tip of the condom with your thumb and finger to get rid of all the air at the tip. Put the condom on the penis with the other hand and roll it all the way down. Be sure to put it on with the roll on the outside.
  • Check the condom has not passed its sell by date (Yes they can go off!!!)
  • Make sure that the condom you are using has a safety mark e.g. CE on the foil packaging.
  • Keep your condoms away from heat, light and damp as these can damage them. Carry them in your wallet or bag.
  • Open the packet carefully in the middle and watch out for nails, jewellery etc. as they can tear a condom easily.
  • If you need lubricant (wet stuff) use something that is water based (you can buy these at chemist). Do not use any oils e.g. baby oil, butter, etc as these rot the condom really quickly and will mean that it won’t protect you.
  • Withdraw the penis straightaway after you’ve come. Hold the condom firmly at the base to stop any leaks.
  • Knot the base of the condom, wrap it in a tissue and throw it in the bin. Do not throw it down the toilet, as condoms won’t flush!!!
  • You should only use one condom at a time and they can’t be re-used.
  • If you’ve never used a condom before, practice by yourself first. Girls can practice on a cucumber or banana.

Withdrawall is not a form of protection. Some people think that if you have sexual intercourse and the man withdraws from the woman before he ejaculates (cums) or if you do it standing up you will not get pregnant. This is not true! Often fluid containing sperm (precum) comes out of the top of the penis after it is erected and this can cause pregnancy (and STIs).