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Students UK > Student Health > Student guide to female contraception
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Student guide to female contraception

The Pill (female) - Ideal failure rate: 0.5%. Typical failure rate: 2%.

The pill is a prescribed hormonal medicine that prevents pregnancy in most cases by preventing ovulation. It contains progestogen and estrogen. While this method is extremely effective, a decrease in this effectiveness can come from several things. For one, the woman might take the doses irregularly, forget doses, etc. Another problem might be taking other drugs that decrease the pill's effectiveness. Side effects that cause vomiting or diarrhea can also decrease effectiveness. For more information about taking contraceptive pills, please see your doctor.

Emergency Contraception (female) - Ideal failure rate: 1%. Typical failure rate: 3-5%.

This form of contraception is known commonly as the "morning after pill" and can be obtained by prescription up to 72 hours after unprotected intercourse. This pill is hormonal medication that prevents a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus. Four pills are taken, two immediately and two more 12 hours later. This pill is basically the same as normal contraceptive medication, however the dosage is much higher so some adverse side effects like nausea and vomiting can occur. Like all medical forms of contraception, this pill does nothing to stop STDs. If you are interested in this option please see your doctor.

Condom (male) - Ideal failure rate: 2%. Typical failure rate: 10%.

The condom is perhaps the most common form of contraception. It can also be fairly effective against both STDs and pregnancy, if used properly. Most condoms are made of thin latex rubber, but polyurethane condoms are also available for those who have allergic reactions to latex. It is unrolled on the man's erect penis to contain ejaculate during intercourse. Using one carefully and properly is extremely effective to maintain their effectiveness. The man should hold the condom at the base and withdraw immediately after ejaculation in order to keep semen from spilling into the vagina. Condoms should never be reused. Only water-based lubricants should be used with latex condoms because oil based lubricants break down the composition of latex.

Female Condom - Ideal failure rate: 3%. Typical failure rate: 10-15%.

First introduced in 1992 as "Reality." This is a loose polyurethane condom designed for the female to insert into her vagina before intercourse. It has a wide open ring at the bottom and a smaller, closed ring at the top that is designed to fit over the cervix. It is effective against pregnancy and STDs but because some women may not learn how to insert them correctly before they have intercourse with them, they can fail.

Cervical Caps and Diaphragms (female) - Ideal failure rate: 2%. Typical failure rate: 10-15%.

Unlike condoms, cervical caps and diaphragms (pronounced "diafram") allow semen to enter the vagina, but they prevent it from entering the cervix, traveling up the uterus, and fertilizing an egg in the fallopian tube. They are made of small round pieces of latex rubber that fit securely over the cervix. Caps merely fit over the cervix, while diaphragms cover the cervix and are held in place by bracing against the pubic bone. They come in a few different varieties. They must be fitted by a doctor or nurse and take some knowledge and practice in order to be used effectively. They are also usually used with spermicides to increase effectiveness. The caps and diaphragms must be inserted prior to sexual activity or intercourse and must remain in place for at least 6 hours afterwards. They're relatively durable can last years if properly cared for. While they have some drawbacks, this is a suitable contraceptive option for women who are unable to use pills for whatever reason. Once again these need to be purchased and fitted by a doctor, so if you are interested in this method please see yours.

IUD (Intrauterine Device) - Ideal failure rate: 1-2%. Typical failure rate: 4%.

IUD's are small, t-shaped, plastic devices that are inserted into the uterus by a doctor. There are 2 types, those containing a thin coil wrap of copper, and those containing progestogen. They generally prevent pregnancy by creating a hostile environment in the uterus for fertilized eggs and in the case of the copper variety, sperm as well. While they are regarded as highly effective, they have some possible side effects such as infection, spotting, cramps, acne, and tenderness. They can last up to 5 years. See your doctor if you are interested in this method of contraception.

No protection

Simply means having sexual intercourse or contact without any form of contraception. Obviously, choosing this option will result in your greatest chance of becoming pregnant. Only couples who are actively trying to get pregnant should have unprotected intercourse. There's simply no excuse otherwise. Guys, if you really think using a condom takes THAT much away from the feeling and insist on having raw sex, then go home and jack off. It's a lot cheaper and takes a lot less time than raising a child.

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