What is contraception?

Contraception aims to prevent pregnancy. Contraception is free for most people in the UK. With 15 methods to choose from, you can find one that suits you best. Barrier methods such as condoms are a form of contraception that help to protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and pregnancy.  

Where can I get contraception from?

You can go to your GP or Integrated Sexual Health clinic to discuss your choices.


You should use condoms to protect both your sexual health and that of your partner, no matter what the other contraception you're using to prevent pregnancy.

If you are between the ages of 15 -24 you can access condoms for free with a C-card at participating outlets. 

Visit Come Correct website to learn more about the C-card and participating outlets.  

Long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs)

LARCs are long-term contraception methods which are highly effective at preventing pregnancy and do not rely on user action e.g. taking a pill every day. LARCs include:

  • Contraceptive implant
  • Intrauterine device (IUD)
  • Intrauterine system (IUS)
  • Contraceptive injection

Visit the NHS website to find out more about contraception and what works for you.

IUD and emergency contraception

The IUD (intrauterine device) is available from:
• contraception clinics
• most sexual health or Integrated Sexual health clinic
• most GP surgeries 

The IUD is the most effective type of emergency contraception. It is placed inside your womb and it must be fitted by a doctor or nurse. It must be fitted within five days of having unprotected sex, or, if it's possible to estimate when you ovulate, up to five days after you ovulate. You can keep the IUD in as your regular method of contraception, or a doctor or nurse can remove it during your next period.

Find out more about how IUD works 

Find out more about emergency contraception

Abortion services

Marie Stopes UK offers specialised treatment, advice and support for women considering abortion. Call 0345 300 8090 to book a consultation appointment. The phone line is open 365 days a year.

Marie Stopes UK

Will they tell my parents?

Contraception services are free and confidential, including for people under 16 years old. This means the doctor or nurse won't tell your parents or anyone else, as long as they believe you're mature enough to understand the information and decisions involved. There are strict guidelines for healthcare professionals who work with people under 16.

If they believe there's a risk to your safety and welfare, they may decide to tell your parents. The risk would need to be serious and they would usually discuss this with you first.

Myth busting for LARCs

Myth: Birth control pills are the most effective type of contraceptive.
Fact: LARCs and birth control pills are 99% effective, however most people forget to take birth control pills every day making them less effective.

Myth: LARC prevents fertility from going back to normal after removal, so should only be used by women who have completed their family
Fact: Women who have not completed their family can take LARC. When the IUS, IUD or implant is removed then fertility will return quickly. If you get the contraceptive injection then there may be a risk of delayed fertility. Speak to your GP or health professional for further information

Myth: The insertion of implants is painful
Fact: Implants are inserted by a trained healthcare professional who will use local anaesthetic, so the procedure should not be painful.

Myth: LARC impacts/interferes with sex
Fact: This is not true.

In some cases, irregular bleeding may happen after a LARC has been fitted/inserted. This usually stops after a while, however if it continues, then consult your GP or health professional, who will likely prescribe you the combined oral contraceptive pill. This should lower your risk of irregular bleeding.

Useful Links

Other MyLife pages: Local sexual health services, HIV and AIDS, Sexually transmitted infections, Sexual abuse

External websites: Hainault Health Centre, Loxford Polyclinic, Sexual health services in Barking, Havering and Redbridge, PositiveEast,, DoItLondon

Useful links to locate local services: Sexual health services near you, Your nearest genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinic or sexual health clinic, Find a sexual health clinic near you, Find HIV testing services, Find a pharmacy near you, Visiting a STI clinic