Short-acting methods can last from a day to a week. They are commonly in the form of pills or patches. They are the most widely known options on the market.
Birth control pills
Birth control pills usually contain two kinds of hormones – progesterone and oestrogen. However, the progesterone-only pills are also available. Like other hormonal contraception, they work by thinning out the lining of the womb, thickening the cervix and preventing ovulation. These pills are taken every day. They usually come in a 21-day course, where you will have to take one every day with a one-week break (where you will have your menses). They can also come in a 28-day course with 7 of the pills being placebo.
One of the advantages of the birth control pills (with two hormones) is that they reduce the risks of endometrial and ovarian cancer. They also regulate the menstrual cycles. However, there are several contraindications. These include smokers above the age of 35 and past history of clotting or high blood pressure. They are also relatively inconvenient as you will have to take them daily. Like most hormonal treatments, there are risks of side effects such as acne, mood swings, and decreased libido. They also do not protect against STDs.
If you are a smoker above 35 or a pre-existing metabolic condition, you might want to consider the progesterone-only pills.
These patches last up to a week. Like birth control pills, they contain both hormones oestrogen and progesterone. The advantages and disadvantages of these patches are the same as birth control pills, except that these patches are applied weekly instead of daily.
Widely available on the market, male condoms do not require a prescription and are relatively inexpensive. They also protect against STDs. There are also none of the hormonal side effects associated with most female contraceptive options. However, there is still a chance of condoms breaking or slipping off. Your partner will also need to know how to put it on and correct sizing is required.
Male or female sterilisation
This is an irreversible option and is done surgically to ensure that the vas deferens (in men) or the fallopian tubes (in women) are clipped or cut. The vas deferens, which are the tubes that connect the testicles to the penis, prevents the sperm from leaving the body. The fallopian tubes, when clipped, prevents the eggs from travelling to the uterus. The advantage is that contraception is no longer required. With every operation, there are small risks involved. Please speak to your doctor about this as risks vary with every individual.
As this is a permanent option, you or your partner should be sure that you do not want any more children.
You might want to speak to your doctor about contraceptive options so that they can tailor according to your lifestyle, needs, and preferences. Please also note that most contraceptive options, apart from male condoms, do not prevent against STDs. If you are sexually active with multiple partners, please stay safe and healthy by wearing condoms, having open and honest conversations with your partners and get tested before you have sex with a new partner!