Contraception is free for most people in the UK, and there are are about 15 types to choose from. Find out what's available and where you can get it.
Contraceptive methods protect against pregnancy.
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 can protect 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 the doctor or nurse won't tell your parents or anyone else, as long as they believe 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 there's a risk to your safety and welfare, they may decide to tell your parents.
The risk would need to be serious, and they'd usually discuss this with you first.
Where to get free contraception
You can get free contraception and condoms 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 have been exposed to the risk of pregnancy, you may also be at risk of catching an STI.
There are lots of contraceptive methods to choose from. You should use a method that suits you, not just because your friends are using it.
Don't be put off if the first method you use isn't quite right for you: you can try another.
Read more about the contraceptive options available to help you decide which one will suit you best:
- combined pill
- contraceptive cap
- contraceptive implant
- contraceptive injection
- contraceptive patch
- female condoms
- intrauterine device (IUD)
- Mirena (intrauterine system or IUS)
- natural family planning
- progestogen-only pill (mini-pill)
- vaginal ring
Two types of contraception are permanent:
You can also find out more about all 15 of these options by contacting:
- Brook – the young people's sexual health charity for under-25s
- fpa – provider of information on individual methods of contraception, including the My contraception tool, which suggests types of contraception to suit you and your lifestyle; also provides information on common STIs, pregnancy choices, abortion, and planning a pregnancy
- the National Sexual Health Line on 0300 123 7123
In addition to your chosen method of contraception, you need to use condoms to prevent STIs.
Always buy condoms that have the CE mark or BSI kite mark on the packet.
This means they have been tested to high safety standards.
Condoms that don't have the CE mark or BSI kite mark won't meet these standards, so don't use them.
Media review due: 26 February 2021
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.
Page last reviewed: 6 August 2018
Next review due: 6 August 2021