Sexual health is about looking after yourself and others. This means enjoying the sexual activity you want, safely, without causing you or anyone else any suffering, either physical or mental. It is not just about using contraception or avoiding infections.


Contraception stops you getting pregnant.

For up to date advice from the Faculty of Sexual & Reproductive Healthcare(FSRH) about contraception during the covid 19 crisis click on this link



There are many methods to choose from – used yearly, weekly, daily or each time you have sex

  • Combined pill
  • Progestogen-only pill
  • Contraceptive patch and ring
  • Male condoms
  • Female condoms
  • Diaphragms and caps
  • Natural family planning


Long-term methods – don’t depend on you remembering to take or use them daily or when you have sex. Long term contraception can last for months or years. For more information click on this link LARC

  • Injection
  • Implant
  • IUD (Intrauterine device)
  • IUS (Intrauterine system)

Permanent methods

  • Male sterilisation (vasectomy)
  • Female sterilisation

You can download Health Scotland ‘s information leaflet on longer-lasting contraception :

Longer Lasting Contraception, LARC leaflet – LARC


If you have had sex without using contraception, or if your contraception failed, you or your partner can use emergency contraception. There are different types of emergency contraception – pills or intrauterine contraceptive device (IUD).

Emergency contraception can be very effective especially if you have an IUD fitted or if the emergency contraceptive pill is taken soon after sex, preferably within 24 hours.  The emergency contraceptive pill needs to be taken within 72 hours, however the Sexual Health Department, Pharmacies and some GPs can prescribe a pill that can be taken up to 120 hours (5 days) after unprotected sex.

Copper IUD’s (Coils) provide the most effective emergency contraception.  They can be used up to five days after unprotected sex (and sometimes even longer).  Contact the Sexual Health Clinic (01294 323226) or your GP for advice.

Women can get emergency contraception pills free from:- most pharmacies – your GP- any young person’s clinic –  sexual health clinics – Ayr hospital accident and emergency department – out of hours emergency GP service (Ayrshire Doctors On Call) phone first by contacting NHS24 (Dial 111).

If you have had unprotected sex you are also at risk of sexually transmitted infections, if you are worried about infections you can get checked out at your local Sexual Health Clinic.


Hormones are chemical messengers that the body makes. Hormonal  contraceptives use synthetic versions of hormones. The hormones in contraceptives send messages which switch off your fertility until you stop using them. There are two types of hormone used in contraceptives, oestrogens & progestogens. There are several types of progestogen used in contraceptives.

Which types of contraception contain hormones?

Those containing both hormones, oestrogen and a progestogen

  • Combined pill
  • Contraceptive patch
  • Contraceptive ring

The others which contain only one hormone – progestogen

  • Progestogen only pill
  • Injection
  • Implant
  • IUS (Intrauterine system)

Which sorts of contraception don’t contain any hormones?

  • Male condoms
  • Female condoms
  • Diaphragms and caps
  • Natural family planning
  • Lactational Amenorrhoea (Breastfeeding)
  • Intrauterine devices
  • Sterilisation


You can discuss the different methods of contraception and which one might suit you best at a Sexual Health Clinic or with your GP or practice nurse.

Here are some questions you could consider

How important is it for you that you don’t get pregnant?

If its very important, a long term method such as an IUD might be a good choice as they have a very low failure rate and don’t rely on you doing anything about them!

Do you need protection from sexually transmitted infections?

If you are having sex the best protection against infection is to use a condom. If you don’t want a baby or an infection, use a reliable method of contraception PLUS a condom.

Would you remember to take the pill regularly?

Some women, for example, shift workers, sometimes find it hard to take the pill at the same time every day, so a ‘fit and forget’ method like the implant, IUD/IUS or injection may be better.