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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.