If you are thinking about having sex and you don’t want to become pregnant then you need to use a method of contraception.
Most methods of contraception will not protect you from sexually transmitted infections so whatever method you choose you also need to think about protection (avoiding getting a sexually transmitted infection). For this you’ll need to use condoms. For men condoms are the only widely available contraception and protection. Even if you’re not planning on having sex yet, you can still find out about condoms so that when you are ready and need to use them you’ll feel comfortable with them.
If you're not sure, talk to a nurse at a sexual health clinic to find the method that suits you best, or try out the My Contraceptive Tool. Remember that you are entitled to a confidential service even if you are under 16 years. Contraception is free on the NHS for all ages so you won’t have to pay anything if you go to a sexual health clinic or your GP.
If you want to get hold of free condoms or talk to someone about contraception click on your area below for a list of confidential, friendly advice services in your area.
Find where to get FREE condoms
A quick guide to some methods of contraception
- Click here to find a local, confidential service that can tell you more.
- Download a copy of the ‘Contraception at a glance chart’ (PDF) from the Sexwise website.
- There are two types: the combined pill or the progestogen only pill – both are very effective if used properly.
- Works to stop the release of an egg (ovulation) and / or thicken the cervical mucus at the top of the vagina to prevent sperm reaching an egg.
- Must be taken at a regular time every day to work properly so not for the forgetful – set a reminder on your mobile!
Visit the FPA website for a great guide to all different types of contraceptive pills, how they work and what you can and can't do whilst taking them.
- Very effective method that works to prevent pregnancy by slowly releasing a hormone and acting in the same way as the Pill.
- Advantages are that once you’ve had the injection it lasts for 12 weeks so you don’t have to think about taking it every day.
- A small flexible rod fitted by a doctor or nurse and is placed under the skin of the upper arm.
- Works by slowly releasing a hormone and acting in the same way as the Pill.
- This methods works for three years once in place.
Long Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC)
Many sexually active young women want to use a method of contraception that is safe, reliable and doesn’t require too much thinking about. Did you know that there are four methods of contraception available to you that fit this description? Together they are known as LARC methods (this stands for ‘long-acting, reversible contraception).
The methods are:
- The implant
- The injection
- The intrauterine system (IUS)
- The intrauterine device (IUD)
You can find out more about these methods of contraception and get them free of charge from a contraception service in your area.
Find a LARC service near you
Remember that you are entitled to a confidential service even if you are under 16 years.
Remember none of these methods offer protection from STIs so always use a condom with them! Talk to a nurse at a sexual health clinic to find the method that suits you best, or click here to try out the My Contraceptive Tool.
More information about the different methods of contraception: