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COVID-19 – updated 26/05/20 , Unity walk in services at Central Health Clinic and WISH Centre remain closed. All of  our Community Clinics remain closed.   

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I’m having problems with my contraception

Sometimes people might have problems with their contraception. Find out how we can help you.

There are lots of different methods of contraception and there is something to suit everyone.

It is important to know the difference between normal and expected side effects, and symptoms that might mean there is something wrong.  When you were given the contraceptive method for the first time, you may have been given information about these issues.  There is information below for each method, with advice about what you need to do.

If you have had sex but you think your contraception isn’t working you might need emergency contraception. Examples of when contraception may not work  properly include:

  • It has not had enough time to become effective (some methods take seven days before you can start relying on them)
  • You have missed a pill
  • You have taken another medication which can stop your usual method working. St John’s Wort should not be taken with pills or the implant. (You should always inform your doctor if you are using contraception to make sure they don’t give you anything which will interfere),
  • You have vomited within two hours of taking your pill

You can contact Unity sexual health, talk to a pharmacist, or go to your GP or walk-in centre for advice about Emergency contraception.

  • I'm having problems with my coil (Intrauterine Contraception)

    After a coil fit, it is usual to experience cramps for a few days and sometimes for a few weeks. It is also normal to get some irregular bleeding after a fit which may persist for several weeks, especially with the IUS. As long as the bleeding is getting lighter then we would say this is normal.

    If any of the following happen you should come and talk to us or see your GP:

    • Worsening pain, especially with smelly discharge or a fever
    • Pain during sex
    • Sudden pain or sudden unexpected bleeding
    • A missed period on the copper IUD
    • If you can’t feel the threads
    • If you think the IUC is falling out

    We ask you to check your IUC threads 3 – 6 weeks after it was fitted.  If you have any worries about it, you can always come for a routine check at any time.

  • I can't feel my coil threads

    If you have had an IUS or IUD fitted but cannot feel your threads it is important that you do not rely on it for contraception. If you have had sex without a condom in the last 5 days you may need to think about emergency contraception. You should speak to a healthcare professional. They may advise that you are examined to see if your threads are visible at your cervix. If your threads are seen you will be reassured and encouraged to try and feel for them again. If your threads are not seen, they should organise for you to have an ultra-sound scan to see if your coil is sitting in the right place. It can sometimes take a few weeks for the scan to happen so you should  use additional contraception while you are waiting for your appointment.

  • I have a coil fitted but think I could be pregnant

    If you have had an IUD or IUS fitted but think you might be pregnant it is very important to speak to a healthcare professional the same day. The first thing they may do is confirm whether you are pregnant by testing your urine. They may then refer you for an ultrasound scan to check that the pregnancy is in the right place. This is usually done urgently to rule out  an ectopic pregnancy (where the pregnancy is not developing in the womb).

  • I'm having problems following my injectable contraception

    Most women get changes to their cycle following an injection. Often, periods will get lighter, or eventually stop.  It is also normal to get some irregular bleeding to begin with.

    Hormonal methods of contraception can also give temporary side effects, like mild headaches, breast tenderness or skin problems.  These will usually settle with time.

    Once you have been given the injection the hormone stays in your body for several weeks and there is no way that it can be removed.

    Always come and see us if you have any side effects that you are not coping with.  If your bleeding is not settling down you can come two weeks early for your next injection.

  • I have run out of contraceptive pills – what should I do?

    If you have run out of contraceptive pills, and you do not want to be pregnant, then you can either:

    • Use a condom every time you have sex, until you can get a further supply
    • Avoid having any sexual contact.

    You may also need to think about emergency contraception if you have missed pills and have had sex.  Please take a look at the relevant section on this website for more information.

    Further information on Emergency Contraception

    You will be able to get more contraceptive pills from your GP or one of the Unity Sexual Health clinics.

  • I have missed my pill

    The combined hormonal contraceptive pill is normally taken every day for 3 weeks and then you have 1 week off. You are protected from pregnancy during your pill-free week as long as you remember to start you pill again when it is due.

    Some people take their pills in a different way after discussing it with a doctor or nurse.

    Some people have ‘sugar’ or ‘placebo’ pills to take during their pill-free week instead of having a break.

    You should take your pill at the same time every day. You are allowed to miss one pill anywhere in your pack or start the new pack one day late and still have contraceptive cover.

    However if you miss more than one pill you will need to follow the “missed pill rules” to reduce your chance of falling pregnant:

    • Take the last pill you missed now. If you have missed more than one, only take one.
    • Take your next pill at the usual time. This may mean taking two pills in one day. This is not harmful.
    • Use an additional method of contraception, such as condoms, for the next 7 days,  as the pill will not be working in this time
    • If you have unprotected sex during this time you might need emergency contraception. It is important that you get advice as quickly as possible.

    If there are 7 or more pills left in the pack after the missed pill

    • Finish the pack
    • Have the usual seven day break or take the placebo tablets.

    If there are fewer than 7 pills left in the pack after the missed pill:

    • Finish the pack
    • Do NOT have your usual seven day break or seven placebo pills. Instead start the next pill packet the next day.

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  • I'm having problems with my implant

    The implant can give temporary side effects such as mild headaches, breast tenderness or skin problems.  These will usually settle with time.  It can also cause some irregular and unpredictable bleeding.

    We always suggest that you keep the implant for at least 3 months to give it time to settle down, even if you are having problems.  You can always come and talk to us if you feel you cannot cope with any side effects.

    We will have asked you to keep the plaster on for a few days after the fitting.  If this comes off or gets wet, you can replace it with another sterile plaster.

    If it looks like the implant is infected, go and see your GP as you may need antibiotics.

  • I can't feel my implant

    If you have had an implant fitted but cannot feel it properly in your arm it is important that you do not rely on it for contraception. If you have had sex without a condom in the last 5 days you may need to think about emergency contraception. You should speak to a healthcare professional. They may want to examine your arm and if necessary refer you on to a specialist clinic at Unity.

  • I'm having problems with condoms

    If a condom comes off or breaks during sex you will need Emergency contraception. You can see us at Unity sexual health, talk to a pharmacist or go to your GP or walk in centre for advice.

    Further information on Emergency Contraception

    If this is happening often, you could try a different brand or shape.

    Using condoms with anything oil-based can cause problems with condoms, making them split or leak.

    See our page on your other Contraceptive options.

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