Indexed on: 19 May '06Published on: 19 May '06Published in: Best Practice & Research: Clinical Obstetrics & Gynaecology
People who attend for contraceptive advice have usually formulated an idea of the type of contraceptive that will suit them best. They may wish to use a method that is long, short or medium acting. These are defined as follows: Long-acting method requires renewal no more frequently than every 3 months (e.g. injectable or intrauterine). Short-acting method used daily or with every act of intercourse (e.g. pills, condoms) Medium-acting method requires renewal weekly or monthly (e.g. ring, patch). For men the choice is limited to condoms or vasectomy. Some women do not wish to use hormonal preparations or have an intrauterine device (IUD) or implant inserted. There may also be cultural influences making certain methods of contraception unacceptable. Each of these factors influences the final decision of which method of contraception is decided upon. In addition to taking a full medical and sexual history to identify any risks to the individual's health, which might be increased by a particular contraceptive, time must be spent discussing the options available. It is important to ensure that there is a full understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of each method. The most successful contraceptive method is likely to be the one that the woman (or man) chooses, rather than the one the clinician chooses for them. Access for women to contraception can be improved by having convenient clinic times and service developments such as nurse prescribing and Patient Group Directions.