male and female condoms (Femidoms)
are highly effective at preventing pregnancy, the transmission of HIV and most
sexually transmitted infections. However, they need to be used properly and
consistently in order for them to be effective. You can find out more about how
to use both male and female condoms in NAM’s factsheet on condoms at (see www.aidsmap.com/factsheets).
can also ask for help from your healthcare team or from a range of
community-based organisations; for example, you may be able to attend one of
the sexual health and relationship workshops run by the organisation Positively
UK to get more information and support around this topic.
HIV treatment centres and sexual health (GUM) clinics offer both male and
female condoms free of charge.
of the need for condoms to be used properly every time you have sex to prevent
pregnancy, women often want to use a back-up form of contraception as well.
anti-HIV drugs interfere with the way some hormonal contraceptives work, and
the contraceptive may not be as effective as usual. You can use the HIV & contraception tool to find out
if that’s the case with any anti-HIV drugs you take.
other medications, such as some antibiotics, can also affect hormonal
contraceptives and make them less effective. It is important to let your doctor
know about any other drug you are taking, including any contraceptives. Getting
advice on possible drug interactions from your HIV doctor or pharmacist is
hormonal contraceptives are less effective if you’re taking HIV treatment:
- the combined pill
- the progestogen-only pill, also known as the mini-pill
- patches – a small beige patch applied to the skin like a sticky plaster
that is changed once a week
- implants – a small flexible rod that is inserted under the skin on the
upper part of the arm, and works for up to three years
- vaginal rings – a small flexible ring that is inserted in the vagina for
three weeks of the month.
types of hormonal contraceptives are not affected by anti-HIV drugs. They are
the intrauterine device (IUD or coil), the Mirena
intrauterine system (IUS) and the Depo-Provera
IUD is a small, T-shaped contraceptive device made from plastic and copper that
fits inside the womb (uterus), sometimes called a coil. It releases copper into
the body, causing changes that prevent sperm from fertilising eggs. You will be
offered a sexual health screen, and any sexually transmitted infection (STI)
will be treated before the coil is fitted by a doctor or nurse. It can be
easily removed if it doesn't suit you.
Mirena IUS is a small plastic device also
fitted in the womb, which contains hormones that reduce the risk of heavy
periods (sometimes stopping them altogether). It is also used by women with
heavy, painful periods as an alternative to hysterectomy. It must be fitted by
a doctor or nurse, after a sexual health check and treatment of any STI. Once
it’s fitted, it works for five years.
most common type of contraceptive injection is called Depo-Provera; it contains the hormone progestogen and each
injection lasts for 12 weeks.
and caps are flexible rubber or silicone dome-shaped devices which are placed
in the vagina each time you have sex. They are not recommended for women with
HIV, as they should be used with a substance called a spermicide that can
irritate the vagina and increase the chances of passing on HIV to an
of these methods prevent the transmission of HIV or other STIs.
National Health Service (NHS) provides free access to contraception; that is,
you do not need to pay a prescription charge. Contraception is available from
general practitioners (GPs), and from sexual health or contraception clinics.
Details of local clinics are available on local NHS websites or at www.nhs.uk
or from the FPA (www.fpa.org.uk).