How Does Contraception Help Prevent Pregnancy?

Contraception, or otherwise known as birth control, is a blanket term for a number of methods used to prevent unplanned pregnancy. They differ in effectiveness, the technique used to prevent conception, and even in how long they will remain active. Contraception might consist of:

In general terms, these categories cover most of the individual methods of contraception. You might also choose to abstain from sex altogether, and while this is technically another method, it is primarily down to personal choice and requires little further explanation— you cannot get pregnant if you don’t have sex.

What Types of Contraception Are Available?

Within the three categories of contraceptives are a number of specific methods, some of which may be known to you already. If you are considering birth control for any extended period of time, or are unsure of the options available, consult your doctor or another healthcare professional, and they will help explain the different methods and what to expect. These could include:

Any of these methods above are more effective than simply having unprotected sex and hoping for the best. But, if you have had unprotected sex by mistake—such as forgetting to take the pill, using an expired or ruptured condom, or failing to withdraw—you still have methods of contraception as long as you act quickly:

What Contraception is Right for You?

Generally speaking, only you can decide what contraception is right for you—and this comes down to factors ranging from lifestyle choice, personal comfort, your desired permanency and your personal beliefs. All contraceptives come with some risks, side effects or drawbacks, and you should discuss with your partner and/or health professional to determine what might suit your situation the best. Approaching the topic of sexual activity and lifestyle with a doctor might be a little embarrassing at first, but it is in your best interests for both you and your healthcare professional to be well-informed about what to expect, and what your options are.

For more information on Contraception, view The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists guidelines.