With all the methods available below to choose from, how do you decide what is best for you and your lifestyle?

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Condoms

 

Condoms

 

Condoms are made from very thin materials and protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and also prevent pregnancy.

There are two types of condoms: male condoms, worn on the penis; and female condoms, which are worn inside the vagina.

When used correctly every time you have sex, male condoms are 98% effective in preventing pregnancy. 

How a condom works

Condoms are a "barrier" method of contraception. They are usually made of very thin latex (rubber) and are designed to prevent pregnancy by stopping sperm from meeting an egg. Non-latex condoms are available if you allergic to latex.

They also protect against STIs if used correctly during vaginal, anal and oral sex. It is really important that a condom is in place before any contact of the penis in these types of sex.

How to use a condom

    • Check the condom isn’t out-of-date (the date is marked on the outside of the packet.
    • Take the condom out of the packet, being careful not to tear it with jewellery or fingernails. Do not open the packet with your teeth.
    • There is a small, sticky out bit on the end of the condom – this is called a teat or a reservoir – squeeze the air out of it with a thumb and forefinger and place the condom over the tip of the erect penis.
    • Gently roll the condom down to the base of the penis.
    • If the condom won't roll down, you may be holding it the wrong way round. If this happens, it may have sperm on it, so throw it away and try again with a new one.
    • After sex, withdraw the penis while it's still erect – hold the condom on at the base of the penis while you do this, to prevent it coming off and semen leaking out. 
    • Remove the condom from the penis, wrap it in toilet paper and put it in a bin, not down the toilet! You can tie up the end at this point to stop semen leaking out.
    • Use a new condom every time you have sex!

 

Using lubricant

Most condoms come ready lubricated to make them easier to use, but you may also like to use additional lubricant (lube). This is particularly advised for anal sex to reduce the chance of the condom splitting. It is really important that you use the right kind of lubricant or it can damage the condom and reduce its effectiveness.

Ideally, use a water based lubricant that is specifically designed for the job. Don’t use anything oil based – such as massage lotion, body oil or Vaseline – because they can damage the condom and make it more likely to split. You can get water based lubricant from supermarkets, pharmacies, online or from our Sexual Health clinics.

Types of Condom

There has been lots of innovation in the development of condoms over the past few years and they are now available in a huge variety of sizes, shapes, colours and flavours. Just make sure that it has a BSI kite mark and the European CE mark on the packet. This means they have been tested to the required safety standards. 

Sizes

It’s important to get the right sized condom for you or there is a danger that it might split or slip off during sex. If this happens you may need to get tested for pregnancy or STIs. Condoms are available in a variety of sizes from extra large – such as the Durex Comfort XL, or extra thin such as the Durex Invisible Extra Thin Extra Sensitive Condoms.

 

If you have never worn a condom before, we would recommend that you take some home and practice. This way you can be sure you have the right size and that you know how to put it on properly. Just remember that the penis needs to be erect first so perhaps try this the next time you masturbate.

 

Textures and shapes

Condoms are also available ribbed (this is a series of lines around the condom) or nobbly (a series of bumps or dots on the condom), both of which are designed for extra stimulation.

Every human body is different and people like different things so have some fun and take time to find the one that feels good for you and your partner.

Flavours

Flavoured condoms can be used for all types of sex but are mainly there for oral. You can take your pick from a wide variety of flavours, from mint to banana, strawberry, orange or apple. Alternatively you could use a flavoured lubricant, just make sure it’s water based.

 

Where to get condoms

You can buy condoms from pharmacies, supermarkets and online. You can also get them from GP surgeries and free of charge from our sexual health clinics.

If you are under 25, you can register for a c-card. This is quick and easy to do and means that you will receive condoms and lubricant free of charge.

Myths about condoms

  • You can use a plastic bag, crisp bag (ouch!) or cling film instead. No, no, no! Apart from being very uncomfortable, any homemade condom will not be effective against STIs such as Chlamydia, Syphilis or Gonorrhea. Nor will it prevent pregnancy. Go to a clinic and get some proper ones. It’s quick, easy and we’re very friendly! 

  • Wearing two condoms is twice as safe. Actually, it’s less safe! The condoms rub against each other and split. It’s safer and more comfortable to wear just one condom at a time.

  • You can re-use condoms. Gross! Condoms are designed to be used only once. There is a greater likelihood of pregnancy, condom damage and carpet fluff if you re-use a condom. Always use a new one. Even if you didn’t cum, still use a new one.

  • You have to be 18 to buy condoms. No! As soon as you are sexually active you can have condoms. We will provide them to you free of charge and we won’t tell anyone.

  • You can’t feel anything with a condom on. Rubbish! Condoms are thinner and more sensitive than ever. Some of them genuinely feel as if you aren’t wearing one.

  • If I carry condoms, people will think I’m a slag. Not true! It actually means that you respect yourself. It means that you care enough about yourself and other people to protect each other.

  • Condoms are 100% effective. Unfortunately not. They are 100% the best thing to use, but there is a very low chance that they won’t work. If a partner has used a cream for Thrush for example, it can reduce the effectiveness of the condom. Also some STI’s such as Genital Warts can be transmitted by areas of skin not covered by the condom.

If you think sperm has entered the vagina, you may need emergency contraception. You can use emergency contraception up to five days after unprotected sex (when sperm entered the vagina). You should also consider having an STI test. If you are worried, give us a call or come and see us and we will give you confidential, non-judgmental

Emergency Contraception

What is Emergency Contraception (The morning after pill)

There are two types of emergency contraception pill: Levonorgesterol (which should be taken within three days of unprotected sex ) and Ella One which can be taken up to five days after unprotected sex.

There is also an emergency IUD (or coil), which can be fitted up to five days (120 hours) after a risk. This is a small T-shaped flexible contraceptive device that is fitted into the womb. In certain circumstances it can be fitted beyond the five days. This type of emergency contraception is the most effective.

 

When should I take it?

If you have had sex without using contraception or if you think your contraception may have failed, you can use Emergency contraception.

It is really important you get Emergency Contraception as soon as possible after a risk, as it works best to reduce the risk of pregnancy the sooner it’s taken.

 

Who can take emergency contraception?

Emergency contraception is available to all women, including young females under 16, if they think there may be a risk of pregnancy.

 

Where can I get Emergency Contraception?

You can get Emergency Contraception from The Centre sexual health clinics in Exeter and Barnstaple. Or from our other satellite clinics on our list.

 

Where can I get Emergency Contraception if I can’t access your clinics?

  • NHS Walk-in centres and Minor Injury Units (MIUs). (Emergency contraception pills only)
  • Some Pharmacies. (Emergency contraception pills only)
  • Some Accident and Emergency departments (Emergency contraception pills only)
  • G.P.s

Some pharmacies in the Devon area can provide free Emergency Contraception to those aged between 13 and 24 years. It's recommended to phone the pharmacy first to make sure the pharmacist is available. Click below to find your nearest pharmacy.

>> List of local pharmacies providing emergency contraception  

You can also buy Emergency contraception pills from most pharmacies - it costs £11 to £25.

If you need more information about emergency contraception, please click here.

 

Natural family planning

family-planning

For more information about natural family planning, click here.

Implant

nexplanon-implant

.This is a small, flexible rod about the size of a hair clip, that is placed just under your skin in the upper arm using local anaesthetic. It lasts 3 years. For more information, click here.

Contraceptive Implant - What happens when you have one inserted

IUD (Intrauterine device)

iud

This is a small plastic and copper device which is placed into the womb. It works immediately and can be used for emergency contraception. Some IUDs can last up to 10 years. They do not contain hormones. For more information, click here.

We strongly recommend that you watch the short film below, produced by Lothian Sexual Health, NHS Lothian, as it gives you all the information you need about intra-uterine methods (IUD / IUS). 

If you are interested in having either an IUD or an IUS fitted and have already discussed this method with a clinic doctor at the Centre, it would be helpful to download this form. Please read and sign it, bring it along when you attend your appointment for the fitting. If you have any questions, do not sign the form, but bring it along to your appointment and we can discuss any questions you may have.

IUS (Intrauterine System)

ius

This is a small plastic device that is put into the womb. It contains a progestogen hormone which can make the periods lighter or stop them altogether. For more information, click here.

 

We strongly recommend that you watch the short film below produced by Lothian Sexual Health, NHS Lothian, as it gives you all the information you need about intra-uterine methods (IUD / IUS). 

If you are interested in having either an IUD or an IUS fitted and have already discussed this method with a clinic doctor at the Centre, it would be helpful to download this form. Please read and sign it, bring it along when you attend your appointment for the fitting. If you have any questions, do not sign the form, but bring it along to your appointment and we can discuss any questions you may have.

Injections

injectionThese hormonal injections are given every 8 or 12 weeks. They contain a progestogen hormone and often affect the bleeding pattern with lighter or no bleeding altogether. For more information on these methods, click here.

There is now a new injection called sayana Press you can administer yourself. Click on the link above for more information, or ask at one of our clinics.

Pills

combined-contraceptive-pill

There are 2 types of contraceptive pill – the ‘combined pill’ contains two hormones, oestrogen and a progestogen which are similar to the natural hormones in your body. For more information about the combined pill, click here.

It is possible to control your bleeding pattern with these pills. For more information how to do this - click here.

 

progestogen-pillThe Progestogen only pill contains a progestogen hormone which is similar to natural progesterone produced in the ovaries. This pill often makes bleeding lighter and may stop it altogether. For more information, click here.

 

Contraceptive patch

contraceptive-patch

These are small beige patches 5cmx5cm which are stuck on the skin, much like nicotine patches. They contain oestrogen and a progestogen hormone like those used in the combined pill. For more information, click here.

Contraceptive vaginal rings

vaginal-ring

This is a flexible plastic ring which the user places in the vagina. It releases oestrogen and progestogen much like the combined contraceptive pill. For more information, click here.

Diaphragms and caps

diaphragme

For more information on condoms see www.fpa.org.uk/contraception-help/condoms-male-and-female
Condoms are available free from all clinics.


For diaphragms and caps, click here.

Permanent methods – male and female sterilisation.

Male and female sterilization requires a small operation. Your GP can refer you for this. For more information, click here.

male-sterilisationfemale-sterilisation

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