Looking after your sexual health - considering contraception?


There’s always loads going on in the lead up to Christmas & the New Year. Presents, parties and unplanned pregnancy? Nah!

Put reliable contraception on the top of your list this Christmas and protect yourself from any seasonal surprises.

Did you know that there are 15 different types of contraception available to help keep you safe from unplanned pregnancies? That’s a lot to get your head round, so the best thing to do when considering contraception is to speak to a qualified clinician.

The most effective methods are known as LARC – Long Acting Reversible Contraception. The coil (known as the IUD or IUS) and contraceptive implant are widely available in South West London, and great if you don’t want to rely on a method you have to remember to take or replace regularly (though you still need to protect yourself from sexually transmitted infections by using a condom).

Here’s the truth behind a few myths you may have heard about LARC:

  1. Myth: The coil is not for young women.

    Truth: Coils have developed over the years and are now perfectly suitable for many young women who have not had children – pills and condoms are not the only choices!

  2. Myth: The coil or implant is a big commitment.

    Truth: It’s true that once a LARC method  is fitted, it doesn’t need to be replaced for three years (implant) or five to ten years (coils).  This may feel like a long time.   But this type of contraception can be removed easily if needed – and once it’s taken out a woman’s fertility can return quickly. Unlike other contraception methods, with LARC you can get it and forget it. Busy lives can make it difficult to get into a routine - like making sure you take your pill at the same time day in day out - but with LARC, there’s no need to remember to take it or regularly replace your contraception.

  3. Myth: Having a coil or implant fitted is painful.

    Truth: It may feel uncomfortable during your coil/implant fitting and for a few hours after (a bit like period pain), but this will settle down quickly. You should discuss when to get a coil fitted with a qualified clinician, to make sure it’s at the best time in your menstrual cycle.

  4. Myth: If you are offered the coil for emergency contraception, it has to be taken out again.

    Truth: If you have a coil fitted for emergency contraception, it can be kept in afterwards as your main form of contraception. The coil is actually the most effective method of emergency contraception and can be fitted up to five days (120 hours) after unprotected sexual intercourse. However, you may be advised to take the emergency contraceptive pill (used to be known as morning after pill) if it can’t be fitted immediately.

  5. Myth: My periods will get heavier.

    Truth: You may find that your bleeding pattern changes - some women experience a reduction in bleeding, which is common with the implant, though others may experience irregular or heavier bleeding, but this usually improves after the first few months. You can always ask for another appointment with your coil fitter to discuss any problems with changes in your bleeding pattern.

  6. Myth: It's difficult to find somewhere to get a coil or contraceptive implant fitted.

    Truth: Getting a coil or implant is easy, but may involve a couple of appointments at one of the many services where this is offered; one to discuss your choice and suitability, the second usually needs a booked appointment for the fitting. Services are FREE and confidential, and you don’t have to be registered at most LARC fitting services to obtain it.

A couple of other things to think about when considering contraception:

  • Finding which contraceptive method is the best match for you will depend on a range and combination of factors, such as:
    • Whether you smoke
    • Your medical and family history
    • Other medication you may be taking.
  • Coils and contraceptive implants do not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), so it’s best to use a condom as well as the coil or implant. Then you’ll be protecting yourself against STIs as well as doubling up protection against unplanned pregnancy.
  • It can be helpful to talk to other women about what contraception they use, but it’s important to remember that everyone is different – what works for them might not work for you – so you should definitely get advice from a qualified clinician before you decide.

Find a LARC service near you

Here are some helpful links for further information on contraception:

For under 25s