To refresh your understanding of contraceptive options, so you can confidently help women visiting your pharmacy to make informed choices about their fertility control.

Contraceptive options

There are multiple contraceptive options available, through general practitioners (GPs), pharmacies, family planning services and other healthcare providers.

The choice of contraceptive type may be influenced by a variety of factors, and it is important that the patient is free to make an informed choice of the method that is most appropriate for their individual circumstances. 

When a woman presents to the pharmacy requesting contraceptive advice, she must be informed of all contraceptive options available to her in order to establish which method is most suitable.

Options Include: 

  • Long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs)(eg. intra-uterine device [IUD], intra-uterine system [IUS], injection or implant)
  • Oral hormonal contraceptives (eg. a progesterone only pill or a combined oral contraceptive pill)
  • Topical hormonal contraceptives (eg. a progesterone only pill or a combined oral contraceptive pill)
  • Barrier-type contraceptives (eg. condoms, caps  or diaphragms).

For further details on the mode of action, effectiveness, advantages and disadvantages of each of these options, please click here to view Appendix 1. Where relevant, you should also consult the Summary of Product Characteristics (SmPC) for each product, which provides detailed information on appropriate use.

Patient-focused information on each of these options can be found on the Family Planning Association website, and you may wish to recommend this website to women considering contraceptive options (https://www.sexwise.org.uk/contraception).

When considering contraceptive options, it is important to note that barrier forms of contraception are the only form that can prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).  

Counselling tip: 

When discussing contraception with patients, highlight that condoms are the only form of contraception that can prevent STIs and HIV.