Donate to Brook

Got a question?

Got a question?

The Ask Brook 24/7 tool has the answers about your sexual health & relationships


Contraception refers to the methods used to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

There are many methods of contraception to choose from and different types suit different people. All contraception is free on the NHS so you won't have to pay anything. You can get contraception from a range of places including Brook services, other young people’s services, GP surgeries, GUM or sexual health clinics and family planning services.

Contraception falls into two categories:

Methods that protect you from pregnancy and STIs

Also known as barrier methods, they prevent pregnancy by capturing sperm and therefore prevent it from ever reaching an egg. They also have the very important added benefit of preventing the transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The two types of barrier methods are:

Methods that only protect you from pregnancy

Hormonal methods: These methods prevent pregnancy by releasing hormones, similar to those produced in women’s ovaries, into the bloodstream. These hormones interrupt the process that might lead to an egg becoming fertilised by sperm. Types include: 

Non-hormonal methods: these methods prevent pregnancy by preventing the sperm and egg from meeting. Types include:

There is also a type of contraception that can be used after unprotected sex, to protect you from pregnancy. This is known as emergency contraception and you can read more about it  here. Remember that if you have unprotected sex, this always puts you at risk of sexually transmitted infections. You can read more about the types, symptoms and treatment of STIs, here.

If you can't find the information you're looking for here, you can get in touch with Ask Brook by text or web chat. Ask Brook is confidential. That means we won't tell anyone you contacted us unless we think you're in really serious danger.