Your guide to contraception

There are many different contraceptive methods available.

This information is a guide to the available methods. It explains how they work, how effective they are, and the main advantages and disadvantages.

The figures quoted on these pages for how well each method works are based on extensive independent research.

Contraception needs to be used until the menopause. That is, until a woman has not had a period for two years if aged under 50, and for one year if over 50. This advice may be different for women using hormonal contraception.

Download Your Guide to Contraception (PDF)

Contraception is divided into two types:

Methods with no user failure – these do not depend on you remembering to take or use them.

Methods with user failure – these are methods you have to use and think about regularly or each time you have sex. They must be used according to instructions.

Find out more about:

How do I choose which method of contraception to use?

There are many methods of contraception to choose from and it is worth taking the time to find out more about each one so that you can choose contraception that suits you.

There are two methods of contraception specifically for men – the male condom and male sterilisation – and 13 for women.

You can find more detailed information about each method on this website. You can also talk through the different methods with a doctor or nurse.

Some of the things you might want to think about are:

  • whether you (or a partner) want to become pregnant fairly soon, many years away or not at all
  • how you (and a partner) want contraception to suit your lifestyle
  • whether you (or a partner) want to use the method every day, every time you have sex or less often.

Your answers should influence your decision about what contraception to use.

My Contraception Tool

My Contraception Tool is an interactive tool that can help you choose a method of contraception. Answer some simple questions about your lifestyle and preferences and the tool will show you which methods of contraception could suit you.


This website can only give you general information about contraception. The information is based on evidence-guided research from the World Health Organization and The Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

All methods of contraception come with a Patient Information Leaflet which provides detailed information about the method.

Remember – contact your doctor, practice nurse or a contraception clinic if you are worried or unsure about anything.

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