“I always keep a condom in my purse just in case"
Whether you’re male or female, working out what contraception is the most suitable for you is key to a happy sex life.
The most important factors to consider are communication, comfort and confidence.
Communication is essential, especially with your partner, doctor and family.
It is important to understand what your partner wants and if they are using any contraception as well.
When visiting a GP or nurse it is also important to be open and honest about your sexual history so that they can advise the best methods for you.
What you tell your doctor will be confidential, so if you are under 16 or do not want your family to know, this won’t be a problem.
While contraception can often be a taboo subject at home, particularly in South Asian culture, it is useful to speak to friends and family about it so that they know you’re safe.
For the most part, South Asian parents are a no go area when it comes to sexual relationships, but it helps to have someone to confide in.
If you don’t speak about sex with your close friends and siblings but are sexually active and looking to use regular contraception, chances are they already have some idea that you’re having sex, so it’s worth being open with them.
At the end of the day, parents would prefer you having safe sex rather than an unwanted pregnancy or a STI.
Conducting research before visiting a GP or sexual health (GUM) clinic is useful because while condoms and the pill are popular, they are not the only methods that can be used and this isn’t publicised enough.
Condoms are recommended and they can be given to you for free by pharmacists or at the GUM clinic.
The NHS website is a reliable source for going through each different method and working out what is best for you.
Being comfortable is also vital. If there is a particular method that you are not happy with, such as the condom or femidom in case it rips, it is beneficial for a woman to use the pill, implant or diaphragm. These methods are reliable in preventing pregnancy and can be teamed with a condom or femidom to prevent STIs.
When researching what method is best for you, it is important to take into account the pros and cons for each one.
Also, each method works differently for each woman. While the pill is popular, remembering to take it every day at a set time can be impractical.
With the implant, it can cause irregular periods, heavy flow or no periods at all for some women but it lasts for 3 years which makes it hassle-free.
A diaphragm is reusable and is inserted in the vagina before sex which is inconvenient. However, putting it in can be tricky and may need some getting used to.
Other methods for women include the patch, IUD, IUS and herbal remedies as a natural form of contraception.
Therefore, when researching what method is best for you, it is important to take into account the pros and cons for each one.
Arun, a graduate, tell us: “My long-term girlfriend uses the implant and as far as I’m aware, she hasn’t had her period for over a year but apparently this is normal for some women.
“We decided to switch from condoms to the implant as it was easier for us to have sex regularly and we know that neither of us have a STI.”
It is essential to be confident when talking about this with your partner in order to come to an agreement for what contraception is best for both of you.
If this is within a relationship and you have both agreed to start having sex, it can often be awkward initiating this conversation but remember how much it will benefit you both.
If this is a one-off occasion, always have a condom as you do not know this person’s sexual history and it prevents pregnancy and STIs.
While alcohol is a major influence of one-night stands, it is important to have safe sex and to not be complacent as the consequences are not worth it.
Sima, a university student, tells us: “I always keep a condom in my purse just in case. I enjoy going out and drinking so if I find myself in a situation where I want to have sex, at least I know that I have a condom with me. I get mine for free from the pharmacy or when I visit the GUM [sexual health] clinic for a sexual health check-up.”
As a last resort, the emergency morning-after pill can be found in pharmacies, often for free and is most effective in preventing pregnancy the sooner you take it. However, this should not be used as a regular method of contraception as it doesn’t prevent the spread of STIs.
Overall, contraception is vital when you become sexually active. The most important thing is to do your research either online or at a clinic and speak to a doctor or nurse about what is best for you.
Remember: communication, comfort and confidence.