The Facts... without the Lecture

Contraception

Although you don’t need to know about contraception until you are sexually active, it is important for you to know that it exists and that this is how couples in a sexual relationship (homosexual or heterosexual) prevent the transmission of sexually transmitted infections and/or pregnancy.

As you get older, your SPHE class in school will give you more information about the different methods of contraception or you could also ask your parents about it.

What is contraception?

Contraception is used by a couple in a sexual relationship (homosexual or heterosexual) to prevent the transmission of a sexually transmitted infection and/or a pregnancy. The most common methods are condoms and the pill. Condoms also protect against most sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

What’s a condom?

A condom is a sheath usually made from latex which is placed on the erect penis prior to any sexual contact in order to reduce the transmission of sexually transmitted infections or to prevent pregnancy. Condoms are the best known protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

What makes condoms ineffective?

Condoms are very effective at preventing the transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and pregnancy. Sometimes they don’t work because people don’t use them properly; they don’t put them on properly, they don’t put them on in time or they don’t remove them on time.

Use of water-based lubricants that are designed for use with condoms can reduce friction and breakages. Gay men or men who have sex with men are always advised to use lubricant when having sex.

What is the pill? 

The pill is a tablet which a woman takes to prevent a pregnancy. If it is taken correctly – as directed by the doctor – or as written on the packaging – it is very effective at preventing pregnancy. It does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

What makes the pill ineffective?

If a woman takes antibiotics, has vomited or has very severe diarrhoea the pill might not work. Also, if a woman forgets to take the pill every day it may not work.

What are the chances that a woman will get pregnant if the couple use contraception?

If a couple use contraception correctly every time they have sex it can be over 99% effective in preventing pregnancy.

What is emergency contraception?

Emergency contraception (also known as EC or “morning after pill”) is a tablet that a woman takes if she has had sex but thinks that the method of contraception she used failed (if she missed a pill or if the condom split) or if the couple did not use a method of contraception. There are different emergency contraception choices available that are effective for different lengths of time (up to three to seven days) however more effective the sooner it is taken after unprotected sex. Emergency contraception is now available directly from pharmacists.

What about other methods of contraception?

As you get older, your SPHE class in school will give you more information about the different methods of contraception or you could also ask your parents about it.

www.Thinkcontraception.ie provides information on the different types of contraception available however this website is targetted at sexually active 18 – 24 year olds.

Do all methods of contraception protect against STIs?

Only condoms offer protection against most STIs. No other method of contraception provides protection against STIs. If a woman was on the pill her partner would need to use a condom to protect them both from the transmission of STIs.

Most unplanned pregnancies result from unprotected sex or not using contraception properly.

Abstinence from close/intimate sexual contact is the only way to give yourself 100% protection against unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. 

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