Which birth control method is right for you?

With so many birth control options, choosing one can be tricky.

29 November 2017
By Delia du Toit

Here’s a quick overview of the various birth control options that are available to you.

The Pill

There are two types of birth control pills: combination pills and mini-pills. Combination pills (such as Yaz) contain the hormones estrogen and progestin and prevent your body from releasing an egg for sperm to fertilise. Mini-pills contain only progestin, which thickens the mucus on your cervix and stops sperm from swimming through to an egg. Both are 91-99% effective – but only if the pill is taken in a regular cycle – at the same time every day.

The implant

The implant is a tiny rod that’s inserted under the skin on your upper arm. It releases progestin for up to four years and is 99% effective.

The shot

Birth control shots contain progestin and are administered every three months. If you get your first shot within the first seven days after the start of your period, you’re protected from pregnancy right away. At any other time, it takes about a week to work. If you get it on time every time, it’s 99% effective.

The patch

The birth control patch contains estrogen and progestin. A new patch needs to be stuck on your skin every week for three weeks, then a week off, before repeating. It’s up to 99% effective if replaced on time every time.


IUDs are small, T-shaped devices inserted into your uterus by a doctor. Plastic devices like Mirena release progestin and prevent pregnancy for three to six years, depending on the brand. The copper device, called ParaGard, is effective for up to 12 years. Both types are more than 99% effective.

Other methods

Less popular methods include the sponge (76-88% effective), vaginal ring (91% effective), cervical cap (71-86% effective), diaphragm (88% effective) and spermicide (71% effective). Condoms are the only method that also prevents STDs, but are only up to 85% effective at preventing pregnancy.

Script-free birth control at Clicks Clinics

Jane Mongwe, a sister at Clicks Clinic Cresta in Johannesburg, says two types of birth control shots and four types of pills are available without a prescription at Clicks Clinics (other brands are also available at the dispensary, but require a script). “When someone comes to the clinic requiring birth control, we explain the differences between the various methods, go through the risks associated with each, and advise on a method based on various lifestyle factors.”

Picked up weight?

Hormonal birth control methods have a bad reputation when it comes to weight gain, says sister Jane. “But the medication itself doesn’t cause weight gain. The hormones, however, could make you hungrier, so you eat more and gain weight.” If you’re struggling with your weight, you could consider taking either Duromine capsules or ReliSlim tablets. Both require a prescription and work by suppressing the appetite, but have different side-effects you should discuss with your doctor first.

To book an appointment at your nearest Clicks clinic, call 0860 254 257 or book online.

IMAGE CREDIT: Getty Images

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