How are the results calculated?
Your scores for each contraceptive method (represented by the length of the yellow bars in the Results screen), are calculated by combining:
- Your weightings: The importance you give to the contraceptive attributes or characteristics (such as how important it is for you to avoid pregnancy).
- Your ‘ratings’ for each contraceptive attribute: These are based on the latest research data (such as the chance of getting pregnant when using a contraceptive method) and, where appropriate, your personal difficulty ratings (such as how difficult you would find it having to remember to take or use contraception).
The contraceptive option that performs best is given a rating of 1 (that is 100 per cent) and the others proportionately lower ratings. The results for each attribute are added up to produce a score for each contraceptive option.
Where does the evidence used to inform the results come from?
- The Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare clinical guidelines.
- The Cochrane database of systematic reviews.
- Google Scholar and reference lists.
What contraceptive failure rates are used?
Typical failure rates are used. If a contraceptive method has been used consistently and correctly, any pregnancy is due to failure of that method. Typical failure rates take account of any inconsistent or incorrect use of that method.
Are the results still valid for people who don’t live in the UK?
Wherever possible, the research was gathered from or relevant to the UK. If you are outside the UK, you can still use My Contraception Tool, but you should be aware that it is UK-relevant and tell your healthcare provider this if you wish to discuss the results with them.
Can anyone use My Contraception Tool?
My Contraception Tool can be used if you are male or female and whatever age you are.
Do I have to answer all the questions?
Some of the questions are required in order for My Contraception Tool to work, but you don’t have to answer everything. However, the more questions you feel able to answer, the more relevant the results will be to you.
What are the blue bars?
The blue bars allow you to indicate how important the attributes you chose from a list in the questionnaire are to you. You can adjust the blue bars to show how strongly you feel about them – the more blue in the bar, the more you are saying that issue matters to you.
I made the blue bar really long to show that I was really concerned about sexually transmitted infections – why were condoms not recommended?
My Contraception Tool takes into account your other preferences and then looks at the evidence supporting each method. While condoms can help protect against sexually transmitted infections and should always be used for that purpose, they may not always be the most appropriate form of contraception.
I’m not sure that the results really reflect the contraception I prefer to use
If you feel that the results don’t really reflect your preferred method of contraception you can spend some time changing the blue bars and looking that the impact each change has on what has been recommended. For example, even if you say that you would really not want to go to a clinic for contraception, the contraceptive implant may still be recommended depending on other answers you’ve given My Contraception Tool.
Can I go back and change my answers?
You can go back and change your answers until you submit them. If you have submitted your answers and want to change them, you will have to go through My Contraception Tool from the start again.
What should I do if my circumstances change?
You can go through My Contraception Tool anytime you like and as often as you like, and if something has changed in your life, you may want to think about a different method of contraception.
The full range of contraceptive methods was not shown on the results page. Why not?
Some contraceptive methods will have been ruled out for you, based on the answers you gave to the questions. So, for example, if you have indicated that you might want children in the future, the option of sterilisation will have been removed.
I am concerned about the disadvantages of using some methods of contraception.
My Contraception Tool does not look at the advantages and disadvantages of different contraceptive methods. To find out about the advantages and disadvantages of each method see our contraception information.
I’m male and haven’t got a regular partner. Why was a method that a woman would have to use recommended?
If you are a man, you may find that some of the answers are more appropriate for use by a woman, but they will still be recommended as My Contraception Tool assumes you wish to prevent a pregnancy. My Contraception Tool also assumes that you are asking about the most effective contraceptive method for you to use as a couple when you have sex and this will usually be a method used by women.
Why was I asked about side effects from a female partner’s viewpoint when I haven’t got a female partner at the moment?
The answers you give My Contraception Tool will still make a difference to the kind of contraception you might choose to use if you do have a female partner.
Where can I get further advice?
Brook and FPA worked with a team of software developers, academics and researchers to create My Contraception Tool:
- Maldaba Ltd is a software company specialising in web applications for health research.
- Dr Rebecca French is a Senior Lecturer in Sexual and Reproductive Health Research within the Department of Social and Environmental Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to get in touch with her.
- Jack Dowie is Professor Emeritus of Health Impact Analysis at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Contact email@example.com if you would like to get in touch with him.