What is the purpose of contraceptives?

The primary purpose of contraceptives is to prevent pregnancy. Contraceptives also have additional benefits other than pregnancy prevention.  

Contraceptives can also be used to

  • decrease acne
  • regulate periods
  • prevent ovarian cyst formation
  • make periods lighter and less painful
  • control mood swings related to the periods (PMS)
  • prevent anaemia
  • reduce the risk of ovarian and uterine cancer and 
  • improve some autoimmune diseases

What are the different types of contraceptives?

Hormonal options

These contraceptives contain a small amount of artificial estrogen and progestin hormones—these work to inhibit the body’s natural cyclical hormones from preventing pregnancy. The hormonal contraceptive usually stops the body from ovulating.

Examples of hormonal contraceptives

  1. Combined contraceptives that come in a tablet, patch or vaginal ring form
  2. Progesterone intrauterine releasing system also know as the Mirena
  3. Injections which are administered every 2 or 3 months
  4. Sub-dermal implants that are put under the skin on your arm and last for up to 3 years

Non-hormonal options

Non-hormonal contraception is any method that doesn’t affect a person’s hormones.

Examples of non-hormonal contraception

1. Male and female condoms

2. Intrauterine contraceptive device (IUCD or the loop)

3. Female or male sterilisation – this is a permanent option that involves surgery

4. Natural methods such as the pull-out method, calculating the monthly fertile periods and avoiding intercourse during these times. This form of contraception is unreliable. 

How to choose the right contraceptive for your budget and needs

The decision of what contraceptive to use is between you and your health care provider. 

From your side, ask yourself the following questions.

1. How soon do I plan to get pregnant? ( Because some contraceptives can take a year to get out of your body)

2. Will I remember to take medication every day, or would I prefer something long-lasting? 

3. Would I want people/guardians to know that I am sexually active and taking contraceptives?

4. Am I looking for a more permanent solution?

5. Do I have a chronic medical condition, or do I take chronic medication?

6. Do I have other problems that I would like the contraceptives to help me with? (For example, acne) 

Why you should consult a medical professional first

The health care professional needs to take a full history and examination to ensure the contraception you choose is appropriate and safe for you. For example, some chronic medications can decrease the effectiveness of some of the contraceptives. Some contraceptives do not work if you weigh more than 90kg, and there are some medical conditions where some of the contraceptives can make their condition worse.