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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Bristol chapter.

Sometimes knowing what to choose can be difficult, so here is short list of some of my experiences and guidance on the different types of female contraception available.

The Combined Pill

After the expected barrage of questions that came alongside telling my mum about my first partner, came an immediate instruction to book a doctor’s appointment and go on the pill – for my family, as it is for many others, the pill is viewed as the only conceivable option so there was never a discussion about wider options that may be available to me. At such an age of 16, I did not feel educated enough to be able to talk openly with my doctor about other methods and I felt a certain feminine safety in being guided by my mum and sister. Additionally, I feel as though the combined pill is often discussed as being the most popular form of contraception, so is often the safe choice for women.

In saying all of this, I am still taking the combined pill and have been now for four years, mostly due to familiarity and the fear of changing to an option that may cause me extreme side effects; even the thought of coming off the pill and wondering what this may do to my body and mental health has made this decision difficult. For the last four years, I can chart consistent side effects that I experience each month – while this changes woman to woman, I personally suffer from intense lower back pain in the week leading up to my rest week, breast sensitivity and growth, mood swings and heavy breakouts. Despite knowing pretty much to the exact date when these effects will flare up, they can be difficult to manage and can often make me feel lethargic and insecure at times. Nonetheless, I have extremely regular periods, and the regime of taking the pill every day compliments my organised lifestyle and, with little to no pregnancy scares, I feel the positives that the pill affords me, outweigh the negatives.

Progesterone-only pill

The other daily pill option only has a few differences to the pill I take. It does not contain estrogen, which is a hormone that can increase health risks for many women- indeed one of my close friends takes this option because of a familial risk of heart and blood complications. Also, you take this pill everyday without a rest week for a period, this pill is more smoker friendly, and is a popular option for older women typically. The differences between pills are usually based on preference or medical history that should be discussed with a doctor.

The Implant

I have several friends who have been, or still are, on the implant. Its main attraction is its ability to be forgotten about – once implanted into your arm, the contraceptive implant lasts three years making it much easier to keep on top of as a contraception, in comparison to the pill. However, whilst spotting and period irregularities are common with all types of contraception, from personal anecdotes I associate the implant with these more than most. One of my best friends experienced a lack of periods completely for one year of her implant installment and heavy spotting for a year after. The installment and extraction of the implant is as to be expected – somewhat painful but manageable.


I know of far less people that opt for injections purely because it’s seen as the most faffy method. Aside from the prospect of being injected, which is obviously more uncomfortable than just taking a pill, the injections occur once every 3 months and obviously require a trip to the doctors each time to do so. While this is not the most exhausting regime or errand out there, it’s certainly easier to only have to go to the doctors for intermittent pill checks or to install the implant for three years.

The Coil (IUD)

The copper coil is the most semi-permanent of all the contraceptive methods. With it lasting between 5-10 years, many young women, including myself, associate the coil with a method that more mature women tend to use after they definitively know that they do not want kids. However, this is just a stereotype amongst women – the coil is also an available option for younger women, as despite its extra-long installment, it can be taken out at any time and it is then possible to try and get pregnant straight away. While I am not a doctor, I would never personally opt for this option due to a small risk of infection, the fact that the coil can easily move around inside of you, and I have heard that periods and spotting can be more extreme than normal.

Issues, side effects and condoms

As you’ve probably gathered, most common forms of female contraception come along with similar side effects: spotting, period problems, blood clots, breast abnormalities and general headaches and mood swings. This is not a restrictive list and should be something that is discussed further with your doctor. All of the listed methods also do not protect against STI’s, which is why it is heavily recommended that condoms are used when needed alongside. Because of this, many women have decided to forego any form of female contraception whatsoever, instead relying on condoms to act as both a protector against STI’s and a barrier contraceptive. This is not something I have ever done myself, but it’s becoming increasingly common for women who do not want the issues that come with contraception techniques like the pill or the implant to stick to condoms. Again, this a personal decision, but certainly a popular one amidst the hook up culture that exists at uni. Regardless, I am an advocate of using condoms in conjuncture with any of the above methods, if you choose one of these routes.

In reality, the world of female contraception is all about research and personal suitability – one size does not fit all and if it does fit, it may not fit forever. It can be hard to decide to explore other options – believe me – but keeping yourself regularly refreshed on what exists out there for us women is important, as we ever know when our plans and circumstances may change and affect this portion of our lives. Most importantly, SPEAK TO YOUR DOCTOR, open a clear dialogue with them about your life, habits and worries and allow them to guide you.  

I'm Molly Broderick, a third year English and History student at the University of Bristol. Just a girl who loves to write (perhaps a little too much).