Love, Sex & Contraception

Couple holding hands in front of sunsetSex is another issue that needs discussion. It is not unusual for new mothers to go off sex. Soreness and bruising as a result of the birth, as well as dryness because of hormonal changes, tiredness, not feeling like sex (sometimes as a result of being occupied with the baby) and tender breasts (especially if they are breastfeeding) are all common.

It is also not unusual for new fathers to go off sex. Many fathers may be put off having been at the birth. Others are concerned about hurting their partner.

Tiredness, of course, and even having the baby sleeping I n the same room, may put off many fathers. The best advice is to wait until you are both ready, especially if you want to have penetrative sex.

Remember, If you don't feel ready for penetrative sex you can still have fun! It Is still really Important for you and your partner to express your feelings and talk to each other about how you feel.




The implant is a small flexible rod that is put under the skin of the upper arm. The implant works for up to three years and be put in 3 to 4 weeks after giving birth. It can be used whether you are breastfeeding or bottle feeding.


Contraceptive injections contain a progestegon hormone which is similar to the natural progesterone that women produce in their ovaries. Depo-Provera protects you from pregnancy for 12 weeks. It is a very effective hormonal method of contraception.
If you are breastfeeding, you should wait till 6 weeks after giving birth to have your first injection.

If you are bottle feeding you can have the injection within 5 days of giving birth.


An IUD is a small plastic and copper device that is put into your uterus (womb). It has one or two soft threads on the end. These thin threads hang through the opening at the entrance of your uterus (cervix) into the top of your vagina.

There are different types and sizes of IUD to suit different women. An IUD can stay in for 5–10 years, depending on type. It should only be fitted by a trained doctor or nurse. An IUD is sometimes called a ‘coil’.

An IUS is a small T-shaped plastic device which releases a progestogen hormone. This is similar to the natural progesterone that women produce in their ovaries.

A trained doctor or nurse will put the IUS into your uterus. The IUS has two soft threads at one end which hang through the opening at the entrance of your uterus – cervix – into the top of your vagina.

It works for up to five years

progestogen Only Pill

The progestogen only pill can be started any time after birth and can be used if you’re breastfeeding or not.

The progestogen only pill, is a pill you take every day without a break.

Progesterone only methods of contraception do not affect breast milk production or the growth of your baby.

The Combined Pill

The combined pill which contains two hormones – oestrogen and progestogen. These are similar to the natural hormones women produce in their ovaries.

If you are breastfeeding it is not recommended that you take the combined pill as it can interfere with the flow of milk but it is ok to take the progestogen only pill

Contraceptive patch

The contraceptive patch is a small, thin, beige coloured patch, nearly 5cm x 5cm in size. You stick it on your skin and it releases two hormones – oestrogen and progestogen. These are similar to the natural hormones that women produce in their ovaries and like those used in the combined pill again you will not be able to use this type of contraception if you breastfeed.


Male and female condoms are barrier methods of contraception. They stop sperm meeting an egg.

A male condom fits over a man's erect penis and is made of very thin latex (rubber) or polyurethane (plastic).

A female condom is made of very thin polyurethane. It is put in the vagina and loosely lines it.

Diaphragms and caps

Diaphragms and caps are barrier methods of contraception. They fit inside your vagina and cover your cervix (entrance to the uterus – womb).

They come in different shapes and sizes. Vaginal diaphragms are circular domes made of thin, soft latex (rubber) or silicone with a flexible rim. Cervical caps are smaller and are made of latex or silicone.

To be effective, diaphragms and caps need to be used with a spermicide. Spermicides are chemicals that kill sperm.

Emergency contraception

If you have had unprotected sex, that is, sex without using contraception, or think your contraception might have failed, you can use emergency contraception.

There are two different types of emergency contraception:

  • The emergency contraceptive pill, Levonelle
  • The emergency intrauterine 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. You don’t need to use emergency contraception for the first 21 days after giving birth.

You can take the emergency contraceptive pill up to 120 hours after you have had unprotected sex but it is more effective the sooner it is taken.

Each method has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it is good to think about which one is right for you.

Top Tips

  • Have you used a particular type before and did it suit you?

  • Are you likely to forget to take it? - If so, the proestrogen pill is probably not your best choice.

  • How do you feel about having periods?

  • Do you need to be protected against sexually transmitted infection (STI)? - If so, always use a condom as well as other contraception.

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