If you are having unprotected sex and don’t want to get pregnant you need routine contraception, which is free.

Here is an overview chart that explains all available contraceptive options.


It can help to split routine contraception into groups.

1. Methods you have to take regularly and not forget
[Daily and weekly methods]

These are reliable methods as long as you don’t forget to take the pill every day, or to put a new patch on every week.

The Combined Pill

The combined pill suits many women well. It contains oestrogen and progestogen hormones similar to the natural hormones in your body. It is reliable for contraception and has extra benefits like lighter periods and the option to avoid having your period at inconvenient times. Not everyone can use the combined pill. Your doctor or nurse will need to ask about your health and any other medicines you take, to make sure you can safely use this kind of pill.

More information can be found here.

Contraceptive Patch

This skin patch gives you all the benefits of the combined pill. It is easier to use because you don’t have to remember it every day. You just change the patch once a week. This may be a good option if daily pill taking is not an option.

More information can be found here.

Progestogen-only Pill

This is sometimes called the mini-pill. It is different from the combined pill in that it contains only progesterone (no oestrogen). It is often used by women who cannot take the combined pill for medical reasons. If you are breastfeeding, or get side-effects from the combined pill, this type of pill might be good for you.

More information can be found here.

2. Methods that are long-acting and you can forget about

These methods are more effective at preventing pregnancy than the pill or patch because you don’t have to worry about remembering to take something every day.

Implant (Nexplanon®)

The implant, sometimes called “the rod” is a small plastic flexible tube (about the size of a matchstick ) which is inserted under the skin of your upper arm. The implant slowly releases a low dose of a hormone called progesterone. This method is highly reliable. It lasts for three years, but you can have it removed sooner.

Please visit our Implant page for more information.

IUS – Hormonal coil (Mirena®)

The intrauterine system (IUS), such as Mirena® or Jaydess® is a small plastic device which releases the hormone progesterone into the womb (but very little into the bloodstream). It can work for 3 – 5 years depending on which IUS type is chosen. It is highly effective and once removed your normal level of fertility returns.

Please visit our IUS/IUD page for more information.

IUD – Copper Coil

The intrauterine device (IUD) is a small plastic and copper device inserted into the womb which can last between five to ten years, although it can be easily removed at any time. It contains no hormones, so women using this method continue to have periods as usual and there are no hormonal side effects. It is highly effective and once removed your normal level of fertility returns. This may be a good choice for you if you are unable to use or choose not to use hormonal methods of contraception.

Please visit our IUS/IUD page for more information.

Injectable Contraception - (DepoProvera®)

DepoProvera® is very reliable, convenient contraception. It contains progesterone only. The injection is given every 13 weeks, usually into the gluteal muscle of your buttock.

More information can be found here.

Injectable Contraception - (Sayana Press®)

Sayana Press® is an injectable contraceptive method. In all ways it is very similar to Depo Provera® except it is injected just under the skin of your abdomen or the front of your thigh. It is easy for you to learn to do yourself. That means you have the option of giving your own injection at home if you want to. You could collect supplies and check in with the clinic once a year instead of 4 times a year with Depo Provera®.


For more information visit the Sayana website.

As well as SHiP, some enhanced service GPs offer LARC fitting. Please check directly with you GP, as this list is subject to change. Please note we are commissioned to provide the IUS for contraception and not for heavy menstrual bleeding and HRT.

More information on LARC can be found here.

3. Methods you must have in place whenever you have sex
(Barrier methods)

These methods help prevent you getting pregnant by stopping sperm from meeting an egg.


Condoms are barrier methods of contraception. Using condoms is the best way to protect you and your partner from STIs and they can protect against pregnancy. There are many different types of condoms to suit different people.

More information can be found here

Diaphragms and caps

A contraceptive diaphragm or cap is a circular dome made of thin, soft silicone that’s inserted into the vagina before sex.

It covers the cervix so sperm can’t get into the womb (uterus) to fertilise an egg.

To be effective, diaphragms and caps should be used with a spermicide. Spermicide is a substance that kills sperm. It’s available in different forms, such as cream or gel.

More information can be found here.