I remember looking forward to Year 9 for two reasons: 1) After having endured two-years of single-sex education, it was the first time we actually got to interact with boys, albeit in the form of set dances (gross). And 2) It was the first time we got to learn about sex ed.
More than a decade later, I’m embarrassed to say there’s one aspect of my sex education I don’t remember – contraception. Having just come off the pill after suffering from bad mood swings, I found myself wondering what other options were out there.
What I really needed was a refresher in Contraception 101.
Figuring I wasn’t alone in this conundrum, I spoke to Dr Deborah Bateson from Family Planning NSW to lay out all the different contraceptive options available to both men and women, as well as how contraceptive use is impacted by our age and our relationship status.
Some people find it hard to remember to take the pill every day. (Image: iStock)
What are the different types of contraceptives available?
There are a number of ways to categorise contraceptives, but it’s useful to do so in terms of their “duration of action:” that is, how long you are able to use the contraceptives for.
There are five main categories that can be classified in this way:
As the name indicates, these methods of contraception are both permanent and long-lasting. They include:
- Vasectomy: a surgical procedure for men, whereby each vas deferens (the tubes that carry sperm to the penis) are surgically cut or blocked.
- Tubal ligation: a surgical procedure for women, whereby the fallopian tubes are blocked to prevent an egg from travelling along the tube to the uterus.
“Permanent methods should be viewed as non-reversible, and we usually recommend them to men and women who are a little older – generally in their mid or late 40s – and have completed their families,” says Dr Bateson.
“While vasectomies can be reversed in a number of cases, it isn’t possible to guarantee that reversal will result in a pregnancy, so it’s best to consider this a permanent method of contraception.”
Long acting reversible contraceptives (LARC).
LARC methods of contraception, sometimes called ‘set and forget’ methods, last for up to five or even 10 years, but are reversible at any time. There are a number of options available in this category, including: