Understanding Female Contraceptive Options

Sarah Health

For women, selecting a method of contraception can be a daunting task; we have moved a long way since the notion that men use condoms and women take the contraceptive pill; there is far more choice available today. Before finally deciding on a method it is important to speak to a qualified doctor or nurse to get a proper understanding of what it entails, particularly about proper usage and possible side effects. It is important to remember that some forms of contraceptive might, for many reasons, simply not be right for you.

Contraceptive Cap

The primary function of a contraceptive cap is to stop sperm reaching and egg. It’s a barrier method of contraception and can be 92%-96% effective when used correctly.

The cap, made out of soft silicone rubber, is small and domed shaped and needs to be used with spermicide to be effective. Choosing the cap as your method of contraception requires a visit to a doctor or nurse to determine what size of cap you need and teach you how to fit it properly.


  • No sexual health risk.
  • Can be inserted up to three hours before sex.
  • Only need to use it when you intend to have sex.


  • Inserting the cap can interrupt the build up to sex that is not planned.
  • Provides only limited protection against STIs.
  • Not as effective as other types of contraception.

Contraceptive Pill

The most common form of the pill is the combined pill, made of estrogen and progestogen, two hormones produced by the ovaries. The hormones work together to stop the production of eggs. There are three types of combined pill:

  • Monophasic – taken each day for 21 days before a break of 7 days;
  • Phasic – Taken as above, but three different tablets containing a different hormone, 1 tablet to be taken each of the 21 days as instructed; and
  • Everyday – 21 pills with active ingredients, one to be taken each day. 7 placebo pills, one to be taken each of the remaining 7 days.

The combined pill can be 99% effective, but it must be taken exactly as instructed.


  • Sex can occur spontaneously.
  • The pill can help control menstruation and reduce effects of PMT.
  • Evidence of lessened cancer risk to ovaries, womb, and colon.


  • Some side effects reported, including headaches and nausea.
  • No protection against STIs.
  • Can affect other medication being taken.

Contraceptive Implant

A contraceptive implant takes the form of a small tube, inserted subcutaneously into the upper arm. The tube contains progestogen which prevents egg production, thickens cervical mucus and makes the womb less receptive to accepting an egg. This type of contraception is often used by women unable to use products containing estrogen. The implant, when used correctly can be 99% effective.


  • No need to remember to take pills.
  • Lasts for three years.
  • Sex can occur spontaneously.


  • Disrupted period.
  • Side effects including, breast tenderness and drop in libido.
  • Can affect other medication being taken.

Contraceptive Injection

An injection of Depo-Provera acts similarly to other progestogen-based contraceptive methods by preventing egg production and changing the conditions in the cervix and womb. The method is 99% effective and last for 12 weeks.


  • Lasts 12-13 weeks.
  • Sex can take place spontaneously.
  • Can be used when estrogen isn’t an option.
  • No pill taking.
  • Doesn’t affect other medication being taken


  • Disrupted periods.
  • Some weight gain reported.
  • A range of side effects can be experienced including, headaches and nausea.