The main points
- There are many types of contraception available, you need to find what works for you
- No method is 100% effective
- If you don't use contraception, you could get pregnant.
Types of contraception
Your options are:
- pills that you will need to take every day
- fit and forget methods that are long lasting
- barriers that you will need to use every time you have sex
- natural methods that are based on observing physical changes during your menstrual cycle
- emergency contraception
- permanent methods, that is, sterilisation.
Each method works in a different way. Talking through your options with a doctor or nurse can help you find the type that's best for your body and lifestyle.
No method is 100% effective
Percentages help explain how well each type of contraception works to prevent pregnancy. Some methods work better than others, even when you use them the right way. Percentages are expressed in terms of “perfect use” and “typical use”.
Perfect use: If a method is '98% effective', it means that if 100 women used it the right way every time they had sex for a year, 2 would get pregnant and 98 wouldn't.
Typical use: For example, a woman might forget to take the pill or run out of it, so for the average user the pill is only 91% effective. That means 9 out of 100 women who use the pill would get pregnant each year and 91 wouldn't.
Fit and forget methods work better than methods where you have to take or use something every day or every time you have sex.
If you don't use contraception, you could get pregnant
If you don't use contraception every time you have sex, there's a chance you could get pregnant, even if:
- it's your first time having sex
- you don't have an orgasm
- your partner withdraws his penis from your vagina before he ejaculates
- you have sex when you have your period
- you wash your vagina after you have sex
- you and your partner have sex in a position that's different to normal.
If you want to have sex but don't want to get pregnant, you will need to use contraception.
Contraception and sexually transmissible infections (STIs)
Most types of contraception don't protect against sexually transmissible infections (STIs). Condoms, both male and female, will give you some protection if you use them the right way every time you have sex.
Contraception and breastfeeding
Breastfeeding is 98% effective in preventing pregnancy, but only if:
- you haven't had a period since your baby was born and
- your baby is less than 6 months old and
- you're only breastfeeding, meaning your baby isn't having any other food or drink.
You need to talk with a doctor or nurse before you rely on breastfeeding as contraception. Read more about postnatal contraception.
Contraception and menopause
When you're under 50, you need to keep using contraception for 2 years after you've had your last period.
When you're over 50, you need to keep using contraception for 12 months after you've had your last period.
Where to get more information, support or advice
- Contact your local doctor (GP)
- Contact Family Planning Victoria's clinics
- Speak to your pharmacist
- Visit Better Health Channel.