Dolly Doctor

Which contraceptive is right for you?

The Implant, IUD or The Pill?

Using contraception – whether you’re having sex or not – is a huge decision. Between the rings, Pills and injections, there are SO many options so how do you choose the right one for you? Don't worry, dolls, we'll help ya!

(Remember none of these methods will protect you from STIs – only a condom will do that – and if you need emergency contraception you should speak to a pharmacist about the Emergency Contraceptive Pill.)

The Pill

The Combined Oral Contraceptive Pill is a tablet you take once a day. It contains oestrogen and a progestin, which stop the ovaries from releasing eggs. It also thickens the cervical mucus, which keeps the sperm from getting to the egg.

What’s involved? The Pill typically comes in a 28 day pack and you’ll need to swallow one every day – preferably around the same time. Depending on the type, a pack will have between two and seven pills that have no hormones (‘sugar’ pills). You’ll get a period during the days when you take the sugar pills.

Pros: Can improve acne, make your periods lighter and more regular. Choose to skip your period altogether by simply not taking the break between the last hormone pill.

Cons: You have to remember to take it every day. Side effects such as breakthrough bleeding, sore breasts, mood swings and nausea (feeling sick) can be common early on but usually settle down by your third pack of pills.

Will it work? With ‘perfect’ use the Pill is 99.7% effective. That means taking it on time, not vomiting or having severe diarrhoea, or taking any other medications that might interfere with it. With ‘typical’ use, the Pill can be 91% effective.

Cost: Some Pills cost about $5 per month but there are more expensive brands.

Vaginal ring (NuvaRing®)

This is a soft, plastic vaginal ring which slowly releases low doses of oestrogen and a progestogen, the same hormones used in the Pill.

What’s involved? You insert the ring into your vagina at home (it’s similar to using a tampon) and it stays in place for three weeks. Then you remove it, take a week off, then pop another one in.
Most women can’t feel it once it’s inside .

Pros: Same benefits as the Pill but you don’t have to remember to take it every day. You can expect regular, lighter, and shorter periods. It tends to have less break-through-bleeding than with the Pill.

Cons: More expensive option. It requires keeping track of the number of weeks inserted (you can get reminders sent to your phone). Potential long-lasting side effects like increased vaginal discharge, vaginal irritation, or infection.

Will it work? It’s more than 99% effective.

Cost: $30 per month

Contraceptive implant (Implanon NXT®)

This is a a small rod the size of a matchstick is implanted under the skin of the inner upper arm. It slowly releases a progestogen hormone into your bloodstream to prevent pregnancy for up to three years and it’s immediately reversible.

What’s involved? After local anaesthetic, a GP will numb a small area of your inner upper arm and insert the implant just underneath the surface with a special needle.

Pros: After the upfront cost, it’s the cheapest and most effective contraception on the market. May reduce PMS and acne in some women.

Cons: It may initially cause a change in your bleeding patterns.

Will it work? More than 99.9% effective.

Cost: $38 plus up to $200-300 for the insertion (free for under 18s at Family Planning).

Hormonal IUD (Mirena®)

A small, plastic T-shaped device fitted inside the uterus. It slowly releases a very low dose of progestogen hormone which thickens the mucus of your cervix, making it harder for sperm to move freely and reach the egg. It’s immediately reversible.

What’s involved? The IUD is inserted into your uterus through the vagina by a specially trained GP. The procedure takes about 10 minutes and the doctor will sometimes use a local anaesthetic. For women who are nervous or who have a small cervix, the procedure can also be performed under sedation at some clinics.

Pros: It’s cheap, effective and lasts for up to five years. Periods usually become lighter or may stop completely.

Cons: You might have some cramping after insertion. Irregular bleeding and spotting can be common in the first six months of use.

Will it work? It’s 99.8% effective.

Cost: $38 plus up to $200-300 for the insertion (free for under 18s at Family Planning).

Copper IUD

This little plastic and copper device is fitted inside the uterus and releases copper ions which immobilises the sperm and makes it really hard for them to move around in the uterus. But it does not stop the ovaries from making an egg each month. It’s hormone-free and lasts from five to 10 years depending on the type.

What’s involved? The IUD is inserted into your uterus through the vagina by a specially trained GP. The procedure takes about 10 minutes and the doctor will sometimes use a local anaesthetic.

Pros: Long acting. There are no hormones, so it won’t affect your normal cycle and is a good alternative to those affected by oestrogen. It can be used as an emergency contraceptive if inserted up to five days after unprotected sex.

Cons: Upfront costs are hefty. It may cause cramps and/or heavy bleeding.

Will it work? It’s 99.2% effective.

Cost: $100 plus up to $200-300 for the insertion (free for under 18s at Family Planning)