Pregnancy – avoiding it and planning it

Did you know that only around 55% of pregnancies are planned?

And while it's not true that unplanned pregnancies are always unwanted pregnancies, taking control of your fertility and choosing when and if you have children is a positive choice.

Avoiding pregnancy

If you're sexually active (having penis in vagina sex) the best way to avoid pregnancy is to use reliable contraception.

We're sure you know this – but what you might not know is how many different methods there are to choose from (15!) and how effective they are.

The most effective methods

The most effective methods are the ones that you don't have to remember and that don't rely on you using them correctly and consistently to work.

For women, these include the IUS, the IUD, and the implant. They are more than 99% effective – fewer than one in 100 women using one of these methods will get pregnant in a year.

Men have less choice – the only method currently available that's over 99% effective is vasectomy (sterilisation), which is only suitable if you are certain you don't want children in the future. Women can also choose to be sterilised, again you will need to be certain you don't want to have children in the future.

Male condoms are the only other choice for men. They can be up to 98% effective if you use them correctly every time BUT if you don't follow the instructions every time (and a lot of us don't) then around 18 out of 100 women will get pregnant in a year. Swot up on how to use condoms correctly.

Condoms have one other big advantage though – they're the only contraceptive method that also helps protect you from sexually transmitted infections.

Information about all methods of contraception >>

Find contraception that suits you and your lifestyle >>

When contraception goes wrong

Depending which method you use, there may be times when you forget it or you think it's failed.

If this happens to you, it's time to think about emergency contraception. This can be used up to 5 days after unprotected sex.

Planning a pregnancy

Deciding to have a baby can feel like a big and sometimes scary decision, but it can also be an enjoyable and exciting time.

Planning in advance rather than leaving it to chance means you can start preparing for a healthy pregnancy by taking folic acid, stopping smoking and cutting down on alcohol.

We're often asked about the best time of the month to get pregnant. And while it is useful to be aware of your menstrual cycle and your most fertile times, the best thing you can do if you're a male-female couple trying to get pregnant is to have sex regularly 2–3 times a week. This means there is always plenty of sperm waiting to fertilise an egg.

Find out more about planning a pregnancy here >>