For Men

What contraception is for men?

There are three choices that men have control over: condoms, withdrawal (pulling out), and vasectomy (sterilisation).

Pills or injections are not yet available for men.

Condoms are the only method that prevents pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.


Pleasure is the biggest problem with condoms: experienced condom users can find ways round this – for example, the right size and fit is very important. Condoms should not break or slip off, and if that’s happening, there’s usually a reason.

Tailored advice about problems with condoms:

Pulling out

This means taking the penis out of the vagina before coming. This works for some people but involves a great deal of self-control.

There’s quite a high risk of pregnancy because it’s hard to do, and because there is sometimes sperm in pre-cum.


This is a small operation to cut or block the tubes from the testicles. This is a very effective choice for men who don’t want any more children.


Does contraception make women moody?

Sometimes, yes. Different methods affect women differently. Hormonal contraception can sometimes actually help with moods, by levelling out hormones and helping with pre-menstrual tension (PMS).


Will it be difficult for women to get pregnant in future?

It’s a common concern that using contraception will mean that it’s difficult to get pregnant in future. Contraception for women is safe and completely reversible (except sterilisation).

It does no harm to take hormones for many years, and it does no harm when periods stop for a while. It’s harder for women to get pregnant as they get older, but contraception makes no difference to this. Find out more about women's fertility here

Learn more about the combined pill, the mini pill, the injection, the implant, and coils


Does irregular bleeding do any harm?

Some methods affect bleeding patterns and women might bleed more, less, or unpredictably. Some methods are excellent at making periods lighter and less painful, and women can choose to skip periods completely.

What's right for us?


How do men know if their sperm are healthy?

Sometimes couples end up thinking that one of them must be infertile if they are having unprotected sex and have not got pregnant. An egg is only available for 12 to 24 hours in every month, so it’s likely to be just chance instead of infertility.

Men can check whether their sperm are healthy by doing a fertility test – that involves masturbating so that fresh semen that can be looked at a under a microscope. GPs can organise fertility tests.


Can men feel coils?

Coils are very small, and are right inside a woman’s uterus (womb).  This video provides more information about coils.

[picture of womb and coil]

Since the coil is right inside the uterus it can’t be felt by a male partner. There are two soft nylon threads which come through the neck of the womb so that the coil can be taken out easily – sometimes men can feel the threads with the penis. If this happens and is uncomfortable, the threads can be trimmed.

[picture of threads though cervix]


Can men feel the vaginal ring?

The vaginal ring is a soft plastic ring which is in the vagina, gently releasing hormones. Male partners can’t usually feel the ring with their penises, but if they can, it can feel quite nice. It doesn’t really matter exactly where the ring sits in the vagina, so it does no harm if it’s touched during sex. It should not be taken out for sex, but if it is, it should be put back within three hours.  This video provides more information about the vaginal ring

[picture of ring in vagina]


Can men feel the diaphragm?

The diaphragm is a soft silicone disc which is at the top of the vagina, covering the neck of the womb. It’s used with a spermicide gel. Male partners can’t usually feel the diaphragm with their penises, but if they can, it is soft and is not in the way. It does no harm if it’s touched during sex. It should be left in for six hours after sex, to allow time for the spermicide gel to work. More gel is needed if couples want to have sex again within the six hours. The gel can be messy, but can also be a good lubricant.  This video provides more information about the diaphragm

[picture of ring in vagina]


Which type of contraception is the best?

There are advantages and disadvantages to all contraception methods.  Some are much better than others for preventing pregnancy. Some choices for women help with mood, acne, painful periods and heavy periods, but some women get more moody, go off sex, get sore breasts or headaches.... Women may need to try a few different methods to find the best one.

Find out more about effectiveness of different methods of contraception here

Find out about all methods of contraception here

What's right for us?

Frequently asked questions

Most hormonal contraception is very good at making periods lighter.

Women’s hormones naturally go up and down. The hormonal methods of contraception work by levelling the ups and downs, and by stopping an egg being released (ovulation). The hormones in contraception are very similar to women’s natural hormones, but the levels are steady instead of up and down. The steady level of hormones usually means that period bleeding is lighter, and also less painful.

The implant, pills, patches, and the ring are all ‘low dose’ methods. The lowest hormone level of all the methods is the IUS (hormonal coil) which is released into the womb slowly over 5 years.


Recommended methods:

There’s no need to have a period every month – on the pill, patch or ring it’s easy to control when a period comes, by taking the method continuously without a break. A period will come when you stop the method (for a week).

You can decide when a bleed will happen, and can also take the pill, patch or ring continuously to temporarily stop your periods.

It’s safe to use two or three pill packets back to back to delay a period, going straight from one packet on to the next with no break (or changing the patch once a week with no break, or using the vaginal ring continuously). 

The Combined Pill, The Patch and The Vaginal Ring are best for controlling when periods come, since these contain the hormone estrogen.

Recommended methods:

Hormonal contraception makes it possible to have no periods at all.

Some methods are quite likely to stop periods so there is no bleeding at all, or only occasional light bleeding. The best method to stop periods is the [Injection]. Most women (seven out of ten) will have no periods after a year of using the injection. The implant can also cause a pause in periods – periods will stop for about one in five women, and more than half have bleeding which is light and less frequent. Implant.

Periods can be delayed by using the The Combined Pill, The Patch or The Vaginal Ring continuously. So for example a woman can choose to have a period once every three months only.

It is safe, and there is no harm to future fertility in having a break from periods. When there is no period, the lining of the womb stays thin - blood doesn’t build up inside the body. There are some benefits to stopping periods - less bleeding helps to save iron (many women are anaemic because of their periods). Once the contraception is stopped, the body returns to it's normal cycle. Periods.

Having no periods on contraception is a temporary effect which is completely reversible, and makes no difference to future fertility - having no bleeding does not affect the chance of getting pregnant in future. All of the methods are very quickly reversible (except the injection - it can take a few months to get periods back again).

Recommended methods:

The Combined Pill, The Patch or The Vaginal Ring can make breasts bigger, since these contain the hormone estrogen.

Estrogen can make breasts feel tender and swollen, particularly at first.

Recommended methods:

Premenstrual tension is shortened to PMT. It's also known as PMS (premenstrual syndrome).

Women’s hormones naturally go up and down. There’s a lot more progesterone in the week before a period, and that can cause pre-menstrual symptoms like bad moods and hunger. Hormonal contraception works by levelling out hormones, and so can be ideal for reducing PMT/PMS.

Some women get mood changes when they are not on hormonal contraception, and some women get mood changes when they are on hormonal contraception. Often swapping to a different method solves the problem (e.g. choosing a different brand of pill)

These can help with PMT:


Recommended methods:

The Injection

The injection is the most invisible – there might be a tiny plaster put over the injection place (usually on the bum), but that’s all.

The Implant

The implant is on the inside of the arm, just under the skin – sometimes there is a small scar where it’s gone in, and you can sometimes see the outline of it in women who are skinny. In women with darker skin, a visible line can develop where the implant is resting. Since it’s on the inside of the arm, the implant is discreet.

Coils (IUD/IUS)

Coils are put into the womb, so cannot be seen. Occasionally a male partner can feel the string of a coil, and if this happens, it can be cut short so he doesn’t feel it.

Recommended methods:

Hormonal contraception is very good at reducing period pain. Lots of women find that their periods are much less painful when they are using hormonal contraception. 

Hormonal contraception works by levelling the normal ups and downs of women’s hormones, and by stopping an egg being released (ovulation). If there is no ovulation, there is no pain.

Recommended methods:

Nearly half of all pregnancies are unplanned (45%) – but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are unwanted.

  • If an unplanned pregnancy would be a big concern, the implant, the injection, the IUS and the IUD are the best at preventing pregnancies.  Because they are long acting, you don't need to remember to use them every day
  • As long as they're taken correctly, the combined pill, the patch, the contraceptive ring, and the mini pill are also great at preventing pregnancies
  • If a woman wants to delay getting pregnant, but wants to get pregnant within a few months, the combined pill, the patch, the contracepive ring, and the progestogen only pill might be suitable as they come out of the body's system very soon after they are stopped, meaning that levels of fertility return to normal very quickly and might help with planning or delaying getting pregnant
  • If pregnancy could be a happy accident, condoms, the diaphragm, fertility awareness and withdrawal are generally less effective methods of contraception, and so could be suitable
  • Currently, contraceptive options for men are limited to condoms, withdrawal, or sterilisation (which is permanent).  An unplanned pregnancy can cause stress for both women and men, and using contraception such as condoms is a way for men to have control over when they become a father.  Men can talk to their partners about when they would like to have a baby, and ask her about her preferred methods of contraception
Recommended methods:

Do I need contraception if I’m breastfeeding?

Breastfeeding can help to delay when you start ovulating and having periods again after giving birth.  

Breastfeeding can help to prevent pregnancy on three conditions:

  1. If your baby is less than six months old
  2. If you're fully breastfeeding (only giving your baby breast milk)
  3. If you haven't had your first period since giving birth

Breast feeding can be 98% effective in preventing pregnancy if all three conditions apply. But the risk of pregnancy becomes higher:

  • if you are breastfeeding less often
  • if there are long intervals between feeds during the day or night
  • if the baby is having other liquids as well as your breast milk
  • if your periods return

Once your baby is more than 6 months old, you will need to use another contraceptive method even if you are fully breastfeeding and haven’t had a period.

Which methods are safe if I’m breastfeeding? 

The contraceptive implant, injection, progestogen-only pill, IUD, IUS and condoms are safe if you are breastfeeding. If you're using a hormonal method of contraception, a very small amount of hormone will enter the milk, but this has not been shown to be harmful to breastfed babies.

Emergency contraception (IUD and emergency pills) are safe when breastfeeding. If you use the IUD or emergency pill containing levonorgestrel you can continue to breastfeed normally. If you use the emergency pill containing ulipristal acetate (ellaOne®) you should not breastfeed for one week after taking it. During this week you should express and discard your breast milk, because the effects of ellaOne® on breastfed babies have not been studied.

Which methods are not suitable?

The combined pill, contraceptive patch and vaginal ring may make it harder for your milk to come in (because they contain the hormone estrogen).  So if you’re breastfeeding, it’s best to wait until your baby is six weeks old before starting one of these methods.

Fertility awareness methods are less reliable while breastfeeding because it is difficult to identify the signs of fertility. You should have 3 normal, regular periods before using fertility awareness methods, and this is unlikely to happen in the first 6 months after giving birth if you are breastfeeding.


Recommended methods: Implant, Injection, Mini pill, IUD, IUS, Condoms

Recommended methods:

Many unplanned pregnancies happen soon after having a baby.

How soon is it possible to get pregnant again?

You can get pregnant as soon as 21 days after having a baby. It is possible to get pregnant before you have your first period and if you’re breastfeeding.

Which methods can be started immediately after having a baby?

The contraceptive implant, injection, progestogen-only pill and condoms can be started immediately after having a baby.

The IUD and IUS (coils) can be fitted at the time of a caesarean section or immediately after a vaginal birth. If they are not fitted within the first 48 hours, fitting should be at least four weeks after giving birth.

Emergency oral contraception (Emergency pills) are safe after having a baby but are not needed until 21 days after birth.

Which methods are not suitable after having a baby?

The combined pill, contraceptive patch and vaginal ring should not be used in the first 3 weeks after having a baby. This is because the risk of blood clots is higher after giving birth. If you are at increased risk of blood clots, you may be advised to wait 6 weeks before starting one of these methods.

The diaphragm is not recommended in the first 6 weeks because the cervix (neck of the womb) and vagina change shape and size during pregnancy and birth.  These changes make the diaphragm less good at preventing pregnancy.

Fertility awareness methods are less reliable after giving birth because it is difficult to identify signs of fertility. You should have 3 normal, regular periods before using fertility awareness methods.

How long should I wait before getting pregnant again after having a baby?

The advice is to wait for 18 months or longer before becoming pregnant again. This is because if you get pregnant again quickly, the next baby might be too small, or be born too soon. 

Leaflet: Contraception after having your baby

Recommended methods: