Contraception Choices - Sexual Health Quarters
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This information is designed to be used in consultation with your health professional. Read our Legal Disclaimer here.

Contraception is something you do or use to prevent pregnancy. Condoms are the only method of contraception that also protect against sexually transmissible infections (STIs).

There are different methods of contraception available and a number of factors you may want to consider when deciding which method is best for you e.g. effectiveness, ease of use, cost, potential side effects etc.

Visit your local GP or sexual health clinic for contraceptive advice. Your health professional can help you choose the best type for you.

Long-acting reversible contraception (LARCs)

The implant is a flexible plastic rod, inserted under the skin of the upper arm. It releases a hormone (progestogen) to stop the ovaries from releasing an egg (ovulation).

Effectiveness with typical use: 99.9%

Things to consider:

  • Highly effective.
  • Safe and suitable for most people.
  • Lasts for three years; can be removed at any time by a health professional.
  • Can cause light bleeds or no bleeds at all.

The IUD is a flexible device inserted into the uterus. Hormonal IUDs alter the lining of the uterus and thicken the mucus at the cervix. Copper IUDs contain no hormones and affect sperm movement.

Effectiveness: Hormonal IUD 99.9%; Copper IUD 99.5%

Things to consider:

  • Highly effective.
  • Safe and suitable for most people.
  • Lasts for 5-10 years depending on the type; can be removed at any time by a health professional.
  • Hormonal IUDs may reduce bleeding. Copper IUDs sometimes cause heavier bleeding.

Shorter-acting hormonal contraception

The injection is given every 12 weeks by a health professional. It releases a hormone (progestogen) to stop the ovaries from releasing an egg.

Effectiveness with typical use: 96%*

Things to consider:

  • Safe and suitable for most people.
  • Can cause light bleeds or no bleeds at all.
  • May be a delay in return to usual fertility.

The COCP contains two hormones (oestrogen and progestogen) which stop the ovaries from releasing an egg.

Effectiveness with typical use: 93%*

Things to consider:

  • Need to remember to take it every day.
  • May cause more regular and less painful bleeds.
  • People can choose to skip bleeds.

The POP contains the hormone progestogen which thickens the mucus at the cervix.

Effectiveness with typical use: 93%*

Things to consider:

  • Safe and suitable for most people.
  • Bleeding patterns may change.
  • Need to remember to take it at the same time every day to be effective.

The vaginal ring contains two hormones (oestrogen and progestogen) which stop the ovaries from releasing an egg.

Effectiveness with typical use: 93%*

Things to consider:

  • Must remember to insert a new ring every month.
  • May cause more regular and less painful bleeds.
  • People can choose to skip bleeds.

Barrier methods of contraception

The external condom is latex or latex-free. This is rolled onto the erect penis to create a barrier during sex.

Effectiveness with typical use: 88%*

Things to consider:

  • Protects against STIs.
  • Can be used with other contraceptives.
  • Easily available in a variety of sizes, colours and flavours.
  • Can use with water-based or silicone-based lube to reduce breakage.

The internal condom is a soft tube that goes inside the vagina to create a barrier during sex.

Effectiveness with typical use: 79%*

Things to consider:

  • Protects against STIs.
  • Can be used with other contraceptives.
  • Can be inserted well before sex begins.
  • Not widely available.

The diaphragm is a silicone dome that sits inside the vagina covering the cervix to create a barrier during sex. Recommended to use with contraceptive gel.

Effectiveness with typical use: 82%*

Things to consider:

  • Can last 1-2 years before expiring.
  • Can be inserted well before sex begins.
  • Needs to stay in the vagina for at least six hours after sex, then can be removed for cleaning.

Other methods of contraception

Effectiveness with perfect use: 100%

Things to consider:

  • Requires cooperation of partner/s.
  • May not be easy to maintain long term.

Removing the penis from the vagina before ejaculation.

Effectiveness with typical use: 80%*

Things to consider:

  • Free and always available.
  • Less effective than other methods, especially for young people.
  • Can be difficult to pull out in time.
  • Pre-cum may contain sperm.

The person learns to identify their fertile time and avoids sex during this time.

Effectiveness with typical use: 76-93%*

Things to consider:

  • Can use multiple methods together for greater effectiveness.
  • Requires constant monitoring and planning.

Permanent methods of contraception requiring an operation.

Effectiveness: 99.5%

Things to consider:

  • If you might want a pregnancy to occur in the future.

Emergency contraception (EC)

Emergency contraception reduces the chance of pregnancy after unprotected sex.

If contraception has failed, broken or was not used, EC may be an option to consider.

There are two types – the copper IUD and emergency contraceptive pills (ECPs).

There are two types of ECPs available and they work by delaying the release of an egg from the ovaries.

Both types can be taken up to five days after sex but are most effective if taken in the first 24 hours.

Things to consider:

  • Can be obtained without a script from most pharmacies.
  • Can be taken more than once.
  • Doesn’t provide protection from further unprotected sex.
  • Not as effective as ongoing contraception.

The copper IUD can be inserted up to five days after unprotected sex to prevent pregnancy.

Things to consider:

  • Also provides immediate and ongoing contraception.
  • Needs to be inserted by a trained health professional.
  • More effective than ECPs but also more costly.
  • Accessing a timely appointment for insertion may be difficult.

*Typical use reflects how effective methods are for the average person who may not always use methods correctly/consistently.


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Information last updated May 2023

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