Family planning - what are my options?

Every woman’s family planning experience is different. For you, it might be about avoiding pregnancy altogether. For others, it might be about getting pregnant as soon as they can.

There are plenty of family planning options – from finding the right contraception, understanding your cycle, or even downloading an app onto your phone…

If you want to avoid pregnancy...

Avoiding pregnancy, for whatever reason, doesn’t have to be stressful. It’s all about getting to know your cycle and finding the contraception that suits you best.

Find the right contraception

There are a range of contraception methods available in the UK. Most are up to 99% effective at preventing pregnancy, eg:

  • The daily pill: a daily dose of the hormones progestin and/or oestrogen to prevent pregnancy. When taken correctly, it can be up to 99% effective.
  • The implant: a small, plastic bar placed under the skin of your arm. It releases progestin to prevent pregnancy. When used correctly, it can be more than 99% effective.
  • The injection: an injection providing a steady dose of progestin. When used correctly, it can be more than 99% effective at preventing pregnancy.
  • The IUD coil: a small, T-shaped device placed into the uterus. It releases copper to prevent pregnancy. The copper alters cervical mucus, which can prevent sperm reaching an egg. When used correctly, it can be over 99% effective.

Most contraceptive methods are hormonal. So you may experience some side effects and your periods may change. However, the IUD and condoms don’t alter your hormones, so don’t usually cause side effects.

Condoms are a barrier method of contraception. So they can protect you against both pregnancy and STIs. When used correctly, they can be up to 98% effective.

Understand your emergency contraception options

Accidents happen. But there’s no need to panic. There are emergency contraception methods on hand for if contraception fails or if you forget to use it.

Emergency pills – or morning after pills – can be taken up to five days after unprotected sex. They pause or delay ovulation to protect against pregnancy. The IUD – or copper coil – can be used as emergency contraception, too.

Emergency contraception is most effective in the first 24 hours after unprotected sex – it can be between 95% (for emergency pills) and 99% (for the IUD) effective. But after the first 24 hours, their effectiveness drops.

It’s possible to get the emergency pill in advance. But you shouldn’t rely on it as a regular method of contraception. Emergency pills are for emergency use only. And they’re recommended to be used just once per cycle.

Get to know your cycle

Understand each stage of your cycle. When you’re ovulating. When you’re due on your period. When your period should finish.

It means you’ll know when you’re most fertile – ie when you should be extra careful to use contraception, or to avoid sex altogether. If you know when your period is due, you’ll know if it’s late and if you might need to take a pregnancy test.

Some women mark the dates in their calendars. Others use smartphone apps designed to track your cycle. Find a method that works for you and stick with it.

You can note when you’ll need a new Eve prescription here, too!

Consider permanent options

If you know you don’t want children – and you’re confident this won’t change – you could consider permanent sterilisation options.

Sterilisation is over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. And both men and women can undergo procedures. They involve minor operations, but most patients return home the same day.

Female sterilisation typically involves cutting, tying, or clipping the fallopian tubes. This means eggs released during ovulation can’t get to the uterus, where they’d usually meet sperm. The eggs are naturally absorbed into your body instead. Sterilisation doesn’t affect your hormone levels, so you’ll carry on having periods as normal.

Male sterilisation – or a vasectomy – involves cutting the tube that carries sperm from a man’s testicles to his penis. It means that, while a man will still ejaculate, his semen won’t contain any sperm.

Sterilisation is very difficult to reverse – and reversal isn’t usually available on the NHS. It’s a decision to think thoroughly about. Speak to your GP if you think sterilisation may be an option for you.

If you want to get pregnant...

You might want to conceive as soon as possible. Or if you could be planning ahead for the future. Knowing your cycle could be key to falling pregnant. So is understanding how contraception can alter fertility – even after you’ve stopped using it.

Select the “right” contraception (in the meantime)

You might not be trying for a baby now. But you might want to soon. Some methods of hormonal contraception can affect your cycle and fertility for some time – even after you’ve stopped taking it.

For example, the injection lasts for up to 13 weeks. But it can take up to one year for your fertility to return to normal once the injection has worn off. However your fertility can return to normal very quickly after using the implant, the daily pill, and the IUD.

Get to know your cycle

Understanding your cycle is really helpful when trying to get pregnant. It means you’ll know when you’re ovulating – this is when you’re most fertile. You’ll also know when your period is due, and if it’s late.

Know when to seek advice

Some women fall pregnant quickly. For others it might take a while. It’s normal, but can be stressful and upsetting. 84% of women fall pregnant within a year of trying to conceive.

If you’ve been trying to get pregnant for longer, you may want to seek advice. The NHS recommends speaking to your GP if you haven’t conceived within 1-2 years of trying.

Contraception is a key factor in family planning. Finding the best contraception for you can depend on a number of factors – your health and lifestyle, potential side effects, how contraception is used, and if you’re planning to get pregnant any time soon.

Hello Eve offers all UK brands of the daily pill and the emergency pill. You just need to complete our online consultation. Then, our in-house clinicians will prescribe the best pill for you and have it delivered to your door!

For more family planning advice and information, speak to your GP or local sexual health clinic.

For further advice or information, contact the Hello Eve support team ( or your regular healthcare provider.

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