Current Students

Contraception

Further information

  • Getting help - sexual health services

ContraceptionIf you are trying to avoid getting pregnant, it is important to use contraception every time you have sex.

A range of contraceptive choices are available in Australia. Most of these protect against pregnancy only and do not prevent STI transmission. 

Condoms (when used correctly) and abstinence are the only effective contraceptive methods for preventing transmission of STIs and pregnancy at the same time during vaginal sex.


Methods of contraception

There are a large number of contraceptives available to you depending on your lifestyle, financial situation and medical history. 

Options include:

  • Male and female condoms - protect from most STIs and pregnancy
  • Emergency contraception
  • Combined contraceptive pill
  • Progesterone-only pill ('mini-pill')
  • Vaginal ring
  • Injectable hormonal contraceptive 
  • Contraceptive implants (such as Implanon)
  • Intra-uterine device (IUD)
  • Diaphragms, cervical caps and spermicides
  • Natural methods of contraception (rhythm method)
  • Sterilisation

For more information on each method and its effectiveness, take a look at the contraceptive card below or visit the Sexual Health Quarters website


Emergency contraceptives (or the 'morning after pill')

The emergency contraceptive pill, or the 'morning after pill', can be used to reduce the risk of pregnancy when:

  • You've had sex without using contraception.
  • Your contraceptive method may have failed. For example, a condom broke or you missed a contraceptive pill. 
  • Sexual assault has occurred.

The medication prevents pregnancy in multiple ways. It can delay ovulation (if taken before ovulation), prevent fertilization and make the lining of the uterus unsuitable for the egg.  

The emergency contraceptive pill can be taken up to 5 days after unprotected sex. However, the effectiveness of the pill decreases as time passes so it is important to take it as soon as possible after you've had sex unprotected. You can get the medication over the counter at most pharmacies and chemists in Australia without visiting a doctor. 

Emergency contraception is not recommended as a regular contraception method as there can be long term side effects if used regularly.


How do I decide which method is right for me?

It can get difficult to decide which method of contraception is right for you, your partner and your lifestyle. The best way to find out is to speak to your doctor. 

By speaking to your doctor you can find out more information about each type, how it works and whether it is a good option for you based on your medical history. It may be helpful to ask them some specific questions such as:

  • How effective is it at preventing pregnancy compared to other options?
  • How easy or convenient is it to use?
  • Will it help to prevent STIs at the same time?
  • How safe is it? Are there any side effects or health risks?
  • How much will it cost?
  • Will I still menstruate/get my period while I'm using it?
  • How long could it take for me to get pregnant after using it?

Unreliable methods of contraception

There are some contraceptive methods that are not reliable at preventing pregnancy.

These include:

  • Withdrawal/pulling out: when a male withdraws his penis from a female's vagina before he ejaculates (or 'cums'). Even if the man 'cums' outside the vagina, there can also be sperm in the pre-ejaculation fluids (or 'pre-cum') from the penis. The risk of pregnancy using this method is high.
  • Standing up while having sex.
  • Rinsing the vagina with liquids or urinating after having sex.
  • Using plastic film (cling wrap) instead of a condom during vaginal sex.
  • Using an oil-based lubricant with latex condoms (including chocolate sauce or honey). These liquids compromise the strength of the latex and make it more likely to break. 

 

Both male and female doctors at the UWA Medical Centre are available to help students with contraceptive advice. Remember that you still need to practise safer sex to protect yourself and your partner from STIs.