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Contraception - Know Your Options. Created and fully funded by MSD, working with the Family Planning Association.

12th September 2014

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You had to prepare for university – choosing a subject, submitting an application, drafting a personal statement… even going to the supermarket and stocking up on baked beans. The last thing on your mind right now might be the wish to become pregnant.

You also need to be prepared if you have decided to have sex by taking care of concerns about becoming pregnant and catching a sexually transmitted infection (STI).

When you have found that special person, you can enjoy yourself more when you have already addressed concerns about becoming pregnant or contracting a STI.

Contraception – Always be prepared

Did you know around half of pregnancies in the UK are unplanned?[1] If you don’t want to become a statistic, get acquainted with the 15 different methods of contraception[2] available and find the one that suits your body, sex life, health and lifestyle.

  • Caps 
  • Combined Pill 
  • Condoms (Female) 
  • Condoms (Male)
  • Contraceptive Implant 
  • Contraceptive Injection 
  • Contraceptive Patch 
  • Diaphragms
  • Intrauterine Device (IUD)
  • Intrauterine System (IUS) 
  • Natural Family Planning
  • Progestogen-only Pill 
  • Vaginal Ring
  • Female Sterilisation 
  • Male Sterilisation (Vasectomy)

Popular as they are, there is far more on offer from your local family planning clinic or GP surgery than just the pill or condoms. The combined pill is an effective form of contraception but it is only as reliable as the person remembering to take it. If you’re forgetful or too busy to remember a daily pill, another option to consider is a form of long-acting reversible contraception (LARC):

  • LARCs are administered less than once per cycle or month.[3]
  • Their contraceptive effect is reversible after stopping or removing the method.
  • Once a LARC is fitted or administered the only thing you need to remember is when to have it replaced.
  • LARCS protect against unwanted pregnancy from between 2 months to up to 10 years, depending on the type.

LARCs do not protect against STIs. Condoms when used correctly and consistently can help protect against many STIs. Your doctor or nurse can give you more information about this.

Know your options

A recent survey of nearly 500 women in full time education[4] showed that many had not had much information on LARCs:

  • 22% had not had a contraceptive conversation with their healthcare professional in the past year.
  • More than two-thirds (68%) felt they had not received enough information on LARCs. 
  • Of those using contraception, 43% are worried about taking or using it correctly and/or forgetting to use or take it. 
  • More than one in five (22%) used emergency contraception in the past five years.
Dr Radha’s Top Tips
1. Don't feel embarrassed to talk to your healthcare professional about contraception and safe sex. They are used to chatting about your options and want to help you make the best decision for you.
2. Have a think about your lifestyle and write down things you would like or dislike about a contraceptive. Being honest about what would suit you is important and will help you get the right contraception for you. 
3. Try and do some research before you see your healthcare professional so you have some questions at your fingertips and can get the information you need.
4. Be prepared for sex in terms of protecting yourself from STIs and unplanned pregnancy - don't be caught out.
5. It's a good idea to discuss contraception with your partner so you feel they are involved and understand its importance. 

To get advice and more information on your contraceptive choices:

• Speak with your doctor or nurse

• Visit your local family planning or contraception clinic

In addition you can visit or 




This article has been produced by MSD as part of the Love, Life and LARCs campaign.


July 2014




Love Life and LARCs

Love, Life & LARCs is an awareness campaign that aims to educate consumers about contraception and in particular long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) and encourage more informed discussions between women and their healthcare professionals about their contraceptive options. The campaign has been developed and fully funded by MSD in collaboration with the sexual health charity FPA.

About the Survey

As part of the campaign, MSD commissioned and funded a survey of 3,000 women in the UK (including 495 female students) aged 16-44 years, who were currently using a form of contraception or, had done so in the past five years. The survey provided insights into women’s knowledge of LARC methods, as well as their opinions and concerns about using them.5 

The online research was conducted by One Poll in July 2013. All of One Poll’s activities are in accordance with the Market Research Society (MRS) code of conduct.


[1]Department of Health. A Framework for Sexual Health Improvement in England. Published March 2013. Available at: Last accessedJune 2014.

[2] NHS Choices. What is contraception? Available at: accessedJune 2014.

[3]Family Planning Association. Long-acting reversible contraception (LARC). Available at: Last accessedJune 2014.

[4]Love, Life & LARCs consumer research. Carried out July 2013 by OnePoll. Research funding supplied by MSD. 

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