Getting contraception

Contraception is free for most people in the UK, and there are 15 types to choose from. Find out what's available and where you can get it.

Contraceptive methods protect against pregnancy, so if you use contraception correctly you can have sex without worrying about getting pregnant or getting someone pregnant.

Most methods of contraception won’t protect you against catching or passing on a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Condoms are the only method that protects against both STIs and pregnancy. Protect your own and your partner's health by using condoms as well as your chosen method of contraception.

Will they tell my parents?

Contraception services are free and confidential, including for people under 16 years old. This means that the doctor or nurse won’t tell your parents, or anyone else, as long as they believe that you're mature enough to understand the information and decisions involved. There are strict guidelines for healthcare professionals who work with people under 16. If they believe that there's a risk to your safety and welfare, they may decide to tell your parents.

Where to get contraception

You can get contraception and condoms free from:

  • most GP surgeries (talk to your GP or practice nurse)
  • community contraceptive clinics
  • some genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinics
  • sexual health clinics (these offer contraceptive and STI testing services) 
  • some young people's services

Find your nearest sexual health service, including contraceptive clinics. Many of these places offer information, testing and treatment for STIs, including chlamydia. If you've been exposed to the risk of pregnancy, you're also at risk of catching an STI.

There are lots of contraceptive methods to choose from, so don't be put off if the first thing you use isn't quite right for you. You can try another. You don't have to use a particular type just because your friends are. Before you make an appointment, read about the contraceptive options available so that you can decide which one will suit you best:

Two types of contraception are permanent:

You can also find out more about all 15 of these options by contacting: 

  • FPA: provider of information on individual methods of contraception, common sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy choices, abortion and planning a pregnancy. 
  • Brook: the young people's sexual health charity for under-25s.
  • Sexual Health Line: 0300 123 7123 (for under-25s).

In addition to your chosen method of contraception, you need to use condoms to prevent STIs. Always buy condoms that have the CE mark on the packet. This means that they've been tested to the high European safety standards. Condoms that don't have the CE mark won't meet these standards, so don't use them.

Condom, no condom?

Condom, no condom? is an interactive video on YouTube where you decide what happens. Just choose which button to click at the end of each section to continue the story, and see the consequences of your choices. Watch Condom, no condom?

Types of contraception

Expert advice for teenage girls about what types of contraception are available and where they can find the right kind to suit them.

Media last reviewed: 23/07/2013

Next review due: 23/07/2015

Page last reviewed: 27/09/2013

Next review due: 27/09/2015

Ratings

How helpful is this page?

Average rating

Based on 23 ratings

All ratings

Add your rating

Comments

Services near you

Find addresses, phone numbers and websites for services near you

Tools

Where to get contraception

Find out where you can go for confidential access to the contraception that's right for you.

Media last reviewed: 11/07/2013

Next review due: 11/07/2015

15 things you need to know

When it comes to sex, can you tell fact from fiction? Learn the truth behind common sex myths here

Vaginal discharge

Use this guide to find out whether you have an infection

Sex and young people

Answers to sex FAQs, including saying no, what to do if a condom splits, being gay and more