Contraception and Condoms
Preventing unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV, means you can relax and enjoy sex without worrying! There are lots of myths about contraception and pregnancy – having sex standing up or washing your genitals with lemon juice won’t stop you from getting pregnant or getting an STI. Make sure you have contraception before you have sex.
Contraception and condoms
Choose the right type of contraception for you and your partner - each one has benefits and challenges.
- Condoms offer ‘dual protection,’ preventing both pregnancy and STI’s, like HIV. There are two types of condoms: those worn by males and others worn by females. Female condoms are called femidoms.
- Male condoms are easy to get hold of - you can buy them cheaply from kiosks and pharmacies and get them for free at health clinics.
- Other forms of contraception only prevent pregnancy; these are sometimes called birth control. Birth control is for females only. Some solutions last months (e.g. hormonal implants, contraceptive injections, intrauterine devices or IUDs), while others are taken daily (e.g. contraceptive pills).
- If you’ve had sexual intercourse and didn’t use contraception or condoms, emergency contraception (often called ‘the morning after pill’) can be taken after having unprotected sex to prevent pregnancy. It should be taken as soon as possible and within 72 or 120 hours depending on the brand.
- Go to your health centre to get advice and contraception. Don’t rely on home-made remedies, they do not work!
Age of consent
If you’re below the age of 12 (the age when you’re legally allowed to receive sexual health services), you may need your parent/guardian’s permission to get contraception. If you’re having sex before the age 16 (the age when you're legally allowed to have sex) there may be laws that mean one or both of you could be committing a crime by having sex; make sure you’ve thought about what might happen. Think you're ready for sex? Learn more about enjoying healthy, safe sex.
Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)
Using condoms prevents STIs including HIV. Many STIs don’t have any symptoms, so if you are having sex, it’s a good idea to use condoms and go for regular tests. If you do have symptoms, they can be painful and they won’t go away on their own. If things don’t feel or look right, it’s important to get checked out. Most STIs can be treated if you get advice early, and services are confidential. If you’re worried you might be pregnant or have an STI it’s important to go to the clinic as soon as possible. These services are available for everyone and the sooner you get tested, the sooner you can get treatment and think about your options if you are pregnant.
Don’t feel embarrassed – remember health professionals see this kind of thing all the time. It’s their job to treat you without judgement and help you to prevent and treat STIs.
For more information on pregnancy check out our pregnancy page.