Do antibiotics really affect the efficiency of the contraceptive pill? Here’s what you need to know

The different types of female contraception

Long-acting methods
Short-acting methods
Barrier methods
Permanent methods
Emergency contraceptives

Long-acting methods:

Implant
The implant is a plastic rod that is inserted under the skin of the upper, inner part of the arm. It releases small amounts of progestogen into the body. Like the hormonal IUD, it stops ovulation and thickens the mucous in the uterus, preventing sperm from reaching the egg. In addition, it alters the lining of the uterus so that a fertilised egg cannot implant and begin to grow. The implant is non-invasive, lasts between 3 – 5 years and only requires a single visit to a clinic to be fitted.

Copper IUD (Intrauterine device)
An IUD is a small, T-shaped device that is inserted into your uterus. Copper wire is wrapped around the stem of the IUD – the reason for this is that copper is toxic to sperm and causes the uterus and fallopian tubes to produce a fluid that kills the sperm before it can reach the egg. A copper IUD can last between 5 – 10 years.

Short-acting methods:

Combined pill
More commonly known as ‘the pill’, the oral contraceptive pill(meaning that it needs to be ingested) contains a mixture of two hormones, oestrogen and progesterone which prevent ovulation. Please remember that combination pills should be taken at the same time every day to be most effective.

Progestogen-only pill
This pill works the same way as the combination pill, except that it doesn’t contain any oestrogen. It’s recommended for women who are breastfeeding or can’t take the combined pill for medical reasons. You can purchase packs containing a one month’s supply. Like the combination pill, it should also be taken at the same time every day.

The Contraceptive Patch
The patch contains the same hormones found in combination pills (oestrogen and progesterone.) All you need to do is to apply it to your skin (belly, upper arm or back is recommended.) Put on the patch once a week for three weeks, keep it off for one week and then repeat the cycle. You can purchase packs containing a one month’s supply.

The Contraceptive Injection
Also known as the ‘birth-control shot’, the injection is a safe, convenient contraceptive method. The injection contains progestogen which prevents ovulation.
However, you need to have the injection every 2 – 3 months.

Barrier methods:

Female condoms
Female condoms need to be inserted internally. One of the benefits is that you can insert it up to eight hours before sex and the condom will still be effective. It covers a larger surface area than a male condom thereby reducing the amount of skin-to-skin contact, lessening the chances of contracting a STD. Female condoms are sold in packs of three or you can get them for free at government clinics.

Permanent methods:

Tubal ligation / female sterilisation
Also referred to as having ‘your tubes tied’, tubal ligation is a surgical procedure; your fallopian tubes are cut and tied, preventing the egg from travelling to the
uterus. The procedure is approximately 99% effective and can be reversed if necessary.

Emergency contraception:

Emergency contraception pills (A.K.A ‘morning-after pill’)
Accidents happen. Should you have unprotected sex, forget to take birth control

Source: Marie Stopes South Africa (Safe Abortion and Post Abortion Family Planning)

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