Condoms are probably the easiest form of contraception to access, and are the only form of contraception (except for abstinence) that can protect you against Sexually Transmitted Infections as well as unwanted pregnancy. Condoms come in different types, sizes and even flavours.
Good quality condoms in general are around 98-99% effective, but again effectiveness relies upon them being applied / used correctly. Using a good water-based lube (lubricant) can also both heighten the sensation and, more importantly, reduce friction and reduce the chances of the condom breaking. NB always use a water-based lube, NOT an oil-based lube. You can pick up free condoms and water-based lube from Student Welfare confidentially.
For more information about condoms, including the different kinds available and how to safely & correctly use them, visit the Condoms & Oral Dams page.
Long-Acting Reversible Contraception (‘LARC’) refers to a group of contraception options that you don’t have to take every day. Instead, you ‘take’ it once and it lasts for 12 weeks to 10 years, depending on which option you choose. It’s also reversible, meaning that if you change your mind in the meantime you can have it ‘undone’. Many women see LARCs as a preferable alternative to the pill, as they don’t have to worry about missing a day.
The LARC options are the implant, the injection, the IUD and the IUS.
If you think LARCs is for you or want to find out more, contact:
Remember while these contraceptive options can prevent pregnancy, they can’t protect against STIs so it’s usually recommended to use condoms as well.
Emergency contraception is contraception that is ‘taken’ after sex rather than before in order to prevent pregnancy. This is however an emergency measure; pro-active contraception (e.g. a condom) is a more preferable option. Sometimes however things can go wrong, which is where emergency contraception comes in.
The most commonly-known emergency contraception is the Emergency Hormonal Contraception pill, also known as the ‘Morning After Pill’. Despite its name, the Morning After Pill can be taken up to 72 hours (3 days) after sex, however is more likely to work the sooner it’s taken. The Morning After Pill is available at most pharmacies, however most pharmacies typically charge around £26. It is however possible to get it for free by picking up a special pack from Student Welfare first, or by visiting one of the selected pharmacies in Leeds on a NHS – funded scheme that allows them to issue the Morning After Pill for free (search for selected pharmacies here). The Morning After Pill is available for free on prescription or at hospital Emergency Departments.
If you had sex 3 – 5 days ago, you may be able to get a IUD fitted. The IUD is usually used as a long-term pro-active contraception method but can in fact work as an emergency contraception up to 5 days after sex. Again it’s not 100% guaranteed to work but is more effective the sooner you access it (although if it’s within 3 days after having sex it's easier to access Morning After Pill instead). The IUD can be fitted at Leeds Sexual Health Clinic or at some GP surgeries.