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Fertility in women begins to decline when they are in their 30s, until after the menopause, when periods usually stop. Men can be fertile for longer. Some men in their 70s have fathered babies. To prevent pregnancy, contraception involves using methods that:
- Prevent sperm from meeting an egg
- Stop an egg being produced
- Identify the fertile and infertile times of a menstrual cycle, so that sex would be avoided during the fertile times.
There are a number of contraceptive options available, in Gibraltar it is possible to use:
Condoms are the only contraceptive method, when used correctly prior to intercourse, to provide protection from both pregnancy and STIs. Choose condoms that carry the European CE mark, a recognized safety standard. Don’t use novelty condoms unless they carry the European CE mark.
Condoms may be purchased in several places, such as pharmacies or local supermarkets.
Contraceptive pills are around 99% effective if taken correctly. The combined contraceptive pill contains artificial versions of the female hormones oestrogen and progesterone, to prevent the ovaries releasing an egg. This pill is taken every day at the same time for 21 days, and then stopped for seven days allowing a period-type bleed. Progesterone-only pills (POP) contain only progesterone, and work by thickening the mucus of the cervix to prevent sperm reaching the egg. This pill is taken at the same time every day with no breaks between packs.
If you are a woman considering taking the pill or a longer form of contraception please contact your GP for advice and further information.
Long-active reversible contraception (LARC)
Contraceptive injections last from 8-13 weeks depending on the type of injection. The injections contain progestogen which, as with the POP, thickens the mucus of the cervix stopping the sperm reaching an egg. They may provide a beneficial option for women who forget to take the pill each day.
The Intra Uterine Device (IUD), also referred to as the coil, is a small T-shaped plastic and copper device that is inserted into a woman’s uterus by a trained doctor or nurse. The device prevents any sperm or eggs from surviving within the womb or fallopian tubes. This option is only available as a contraceptive in private practice clinics in Gibraltar.
Contraception services are free and confidential, including for people under 16 years old. This means the doctor or nurse will not inform parents or anyone else; providing they believe the young person is mature enough to understand the information they are given, and there are no threats to their safety and welfare.
There are lots of contraceptive methods to choose from, and it is best to use a method that suits you. If the first method you try does not suit quite right do not be afraid to try another.
The Family Planning Association provides a lot of information regarding methods of contraception, and the ‘My Contraception Tool’ can be useful in suggesting types of contraception that may suit you and your lifestyle.
Remember, condoms are the only contraceptive method that protect against STIs and pregnancy. If you’ve been exposed to the risk of pregnancy, you may also be at risk of catching an STI. It is important to get screened as soon as possible, see: Emergency Action and Advice.
Condom, no condom? is an interactive video on YouTube where you decide what happens next in the story; click a button at the end of each section to continue the story and see the consequences of your choices.
Watch Condom, no condom? here.