Dolly Doctor

Everrrythang you need to know about contraception. Yes, EVERYTHING

Condoms, the Pill, implants, injections - it's all here.

Forget thinking you can’t get pregnant the first time, or that catching an STD won’t happen to you. If you’re having sex, getting busy or just fooling around, you need to be using (or at least thinking about) contraception, so here's your options.

Condoms

These little latex socks are cheap, practical and safe - plus they're THE ONLY form of contraception that protects you from STIs (win!). Ignore your bae if he says, “but sex doesn’t feel the same” (not true) and keep your own supply handy. Condoms are very effective if used properly, just make sure you follow the instructions on the pack.

How it works: A condom prevents sperm from entering the vagina provided it’s used correctly.

Beware because… While condoms are effective, they can break. Help prevent this by checking the use-by date on the pack, store them away from sunlight and never use them with oil-based lubricants (like massage oil, baby oil or Vaseline). Use a water-based lubricant instead, and if the condom breaks or falls off stop having sex immediately and consider getting along to the chemist to get the morning-after pill (scroll right down for more on this).

Where do I get it?
From chemists, supermarkets, convenience stores, and even some vending machines. There’s lots of different brands in a range of prices (from $6.50-$15 per pack). Keep in mind that a female condom is now available. It’s still relatively new, but ask your local Family Planning Clinic if you’d like to know more.

The Pill

The pill is the most suited to gals in a committed #ship - who know their bae's sexual history - coz it doesn’t protect you from STIs. It's 99% effective at preventing pregnancy provided it’s used the right way.

How it works: There are many different brands of Pill, but all fall into one of two categories: 1) The combined pill (which contains a combination of two hormones, oestrogen and progesterone) works by stopping the ovary releasing an egg. 2) The mini pill contains only one hormone (progesterone). It works by thickening the cervical mucus, to prevent sperm from entering the uterus. Your doctor will advise which type is best for you.

Beware because… There can be some side effects, but if they do occur you can try a different brand of Pill (there are lots) until you find one which is right for you. Possible side effects when using the Pill are increased irritability, acne, weight gain, enlarged and tender breasts and skin pigmentation. The benefits are that it can regulate your period and reduce acne. Keep in mind that vomiting, diarrhoea and some antibiotics can reduce the Pill's effectiveness, and it won’t work unless you take it around the same time each day. It’s a good idea to set your phone alarm so you don't forget.

Where do I get it?
On prescription from a doctor or Family Planning Clinic. Making an appointment might seem a bit scary, but remember that all consultations are confidential. Prices for the Pill range from $35 for a four-month supply for the older brands. Newer brands can cost up to $283 for a year’s supply.

Diaphragm

This is a shallow rubber cap (sometimes used with spermicidal foam or jelly) that sits over the cervix. An alternative is the cervical cap (a smaller version), if you find the diaphragm uncomfortable.

How it works: It prevents sperm from meeting up with the ovum. You put it in before sex and have to leave it there for at least six hours afterwards. It can be tricky to insert at first, so practise a few times to avoid any awk moments in the bedroom.

Beware because… It can be tricky to use. The diaphragm is less effective than many other forms of contraception, and can have a failure rate of up to 20%.

Where do I get it?
From a GP or family planning clinic; it's a flat fee of about $70–90 and it lasts a couple years.

Depo-provera injections

This is a high-dose injection of a hormone called progesterone, given once every three months.

How it works: Like the pill, Depo prevents eggs being released. If the sight of a needle makes you squirm, this isn’t for you. But if you’re hopeless at remembering to take the Pill, it's perfect. Depo usually makes your period stop after you’ve used it for a while. Some gals experience unpredictable bleeding or spotting (usually light).

Beware because… Side effects can include breast tenderness, weight gain, depression and spotting (in some cases). If you stop taking the shot, it can take up to six months to a year before your fertility returns to normal.

Where do I get it?
Your doctor will issue a prescription and each injection costs around $25-30.

Implants

This 4cm plastic rod is inserted on the inside of the arm and steadily releases a small amount of hormone. It lasts for three years.

How it works? It contains a hormone that helps prevent pregnancy, much like the Pill only once it's inserted you can forget about it as it'll do all the work for you.

Beware because… It doesn't protect against STIs and is only 99.8 per cent effective. It can also mess with your periods - they may become heavier or lighter or even longer.

Where do I get it? Your local GP or Family Planning Clinic can help you out. The implant will set you back about $35.

Only in an emergency… The morning-after pill

The morning-after pill is a last resort after unsafe sex (or the condom breaks), but it is absolutely not contraception and doesn’t protect against STIs.

How it works? The morning-after pill is one single pill that must be taken no later than 72 hours after unprotected sex. This high dosage of contraceptive alters the lining of the uterus, so the egg can’t implant.

Beware because… It can cause nausea.

Where do I get it? You can now buy this over-the-counter at any chemist and it usually costs about $18.