Nowadays there is a huge range of different contraceptives on offer to patients, and emergency ones if you run the risk.
Female patients have the most choice, with a number of different contraceptive methods available, ranging from the popular contraceptive pill to the intrauterine device (commonly known as the coil).
Female contraceptives offer protection against unwanted pregnancies but they do not protect against sexually transmitted infections; it is important to use condoms to provide this protection.
Women can also use the emergency contraceptive if they have unprotected sex or something goes wrong with the contraceptive they are taking; this comes in the form of a pill which is available from GP surgeries, chemists and some supermarket pharmacies; the pill is free from family planning clinics and GP surgeries but it costs around £26 from chemists.
For men, condoms are the most popular form of contraception; they protect against unwanted pregnancies as well as sexually transmitted infections.
Men who have had children in the past and are sure they do not want any more in the future may wish to have a vasectomy; this is a simple and quick procedure which will prevent the man from being able to have children in the future.
The vasectomy is considered a permanent measure, but it can be reversed. Some men that decide they want to have children further down the line choose to have a vasectomy reversal; the success rate is considerably higher if this operation is carried out within 10 years of the initial vasectomy but success is not guaranteed and the procedure usually has to be carried out privately as it is not widely available on the NHS.