Ask the Doc
It is your responsibility
and your right to protect yourself
and to fully understand
how your contraceptive method/s work.
- Who is responsible for contraception in a relationship?
You are and so is your partner! Both partners in a sexual relationship are responsible for contraception.
- What is the most effective way of preventing an unplanned pregnancy?
Contraception is the only way to prevent an unplanned pregnancy if you’re planning on having sex. Different types of contraceptive suit different people at different times in their lives. Talk to your healthcare professional or family planning clinic to find out which type of contraception will be best for you and your partner.
- What is a condom and how does it prevent an unplanned pregnancy and protect men and women from STIs?
A condom is a latex or polyurethane sheath that fits over the penis when it is erect. The condom is rolled down over the erect penis before sexual intercourse takes place to prevent sperm from entering the vagina. The condom should be held in place on the penis as soon as ejaculation has occurred, to ensure that it does not slip off and to prevent any sperm from escaping when the penis is withdrawn. The female condom is a polyurethane sheath which fits inside the woman’s vagina. It works in the same way as the male condom: by preventing sperm from entering the vagina.
- What is hormonal contraception and how does it prevent an unplanned pregnancy?
The pill, patches, rings and intrauterine systems are all different types of hormonal contraception. They all contain hormones which, when taken as directed, prevent pregnancy. Some types of hormonal contraception contain the hormones oestrogen and progestogen. These prevent pregnancy by inhibiting ovulation (stopping the release of eggs from the ovaries) and thickening the mucus at the entrance to the womb. Some types contain only progestogen and work either by thickening the mucus at the entry to the womb and changing the womb lining or by thickening the mucus at the entry to the womb and inhibiting ovulation. The pill which contains both oestrogen and progestogen (combination pill) may be taken for 21 or 24 days, followed by a 7- or 4-day break (i.e. 7 or 4 days of placebo pills that contain no active ingredient), depending on the product used. The progestogen-only pill is taken without a pill-free interval. It is important to remember that hormonal contraception does not offer protection from STIs
- What other types of contraception are there?
Intrauterine methods of contraception are small devices which are inserted into the womb by a gynaecologist. There are two types, copper intrauterine devices (IUDs) and the levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine system (IUS). Intrauterine methods of contraception are suitable for women looking for long-term contraception. Intrauterine methods do not provide protection from STIs
- What is the emergency pill?
The emergency pill, often known as ”the morning after pill”, can be used to prevent an unplanned pregnancy when unprotected sex has taken place or another method of contraception has failed. The emergency pill should be taken as soon as possible, ideally within 24 hours after sex. The emergency pill should not be used regularly and is only intended as back up. You should speak to your healthcare professional or family planning clinic as soon as possible if you think that you or your partner might need the emergency pill.
- Is the withdrawal method effective at preventing an unplanned pregnancy?
No, it’s not! The withdrawal method (when a man removes his penis from the vagina before ejaculating) is highly unreliable. In spite of this, a recent multi-national survey found that 33% of teenagers believe that the withdrawal method is reliable and 19% are actually using it!
- How can I protect myself from STIs?
The condom is the only form of contraception that offers protection against most STIs if used properly. To protect yourself from STIs you must use a condom properly every single time you have sex.
- Can hormonal contraception protect me from STIs?
No, it cannot. The condom is the only form of contraception that offers protection against most STIs if used properly. The condom and hormonal contraception can be used together to provide highly reliable contraception plus protection from STIs.
- Who can I talk to about which type of contraception will be best for me?
You can discuss contraception with your gynaecologist or a member of staff at your family planning clinic.
- What should I do if my partner won’t use contraception?
First and foremost, don’t have sex with him or her! If your partner won’t use contraception, you might want to reconsider whether you want to have a sexual relationship with this person. You could tell your partner that you will not have sex with someone who does not respect you or himself/herself enough to use protection.
- Will using contraception now prevent me from being able to have a baby when the time is right?
No, it will not. Condoms are removed after sex and hormonal contraception stops affecting the body shortly after a woman stops taking the pill or has a patch removed. Some STIs can cause damage to the reproductive system which can, in some cases, make it more difficult to have children. Condoms offer protection against STIs and can be combined with other methods.
- General myths
- I can’t get pregnant the first time I have sex. NOT TRUE
- If I have sex during my period the chances of getting pregnant are non-existent. NOT TRUE
- Having sex right before or right after my period is absolutely safe. NOT TRUE
- I can’t get pregnant if my partner withdraws his penis before he ejaculates. NOT TRUE
- I can’t get pregnant if my partner didn’t have an orgasm during intercourse. NOT TRUE
- If I douche, shower or bath immediately after sex I won’t get pregnant. NOT TRUE
- If I have sex standing up, I won’t get pregnant. NOT TRUE
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This website is intended to provide information to a local audience within South Africa.
Last updated on 11 June 2015