Contraceptive methods are numerous and they vary. They do not work in the same way for everyone and suit people at different points in their life. Contraception methods either prevent or affect ovulation, stop fertilisation by preventing the sperm from meeting the egg, or they identify the most fertile and infertile periods of your menstrual cycle.

Contraception allows you to choose when and if you want to have a baby. Some forms of contraception also provide protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

As mentioned earlier there are many types of contraception methods, each working in different ways. Barrier methods such as the male and female condoms, work to create a physical barrier against sperm. Women also have the option of using hormonal methods of contraception, such as the pill, or mechanical contraceptive devices, such as an IUD (intrauterine device) that is placed in the womb.

Before recommending any family planning method though, your GP must first assess your age, medical history and sexual lifestyle. No contraceptive is 100% reliable and some do have possible side effects. It is therefore recommended that you consider these factors when deciding what sort of contraception to use.

Condoms are available for free at any family planning clinic, sexual health clinic, or GUM (genitourinary medicine) clinic. They may also be available from your GP. Emergency contraception is also available from your GP, family planning clinics, most NHS walk-in centres (England only) and some pharmacies. You can also buy male and female condoms from local chemists, as well as from vending machines, supermarkets, garages and other shops