Learn about what Contraceptives are

What are contraceptives?

Contraception is a tool to protect you from falling pregnant when you are sexually active. There are different kinds of contraceptive methods that men and women can use to prevent pregnancy.

Remember! All contraceptives protect you from pregnancy but only one can protect you from all sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including HIV. This is why it is a good idea to always use two contraceptives – known as dual protection – a condom and another contraceptive method.

To be safest and healthiest, dual protection is the way to go!

In South Africa, if you are at least 12 years and older, you have the right to access contraceptives for free at your local public clinic or hospital without your parents’ permission. The clinic nurses and doctors can will help you choose the best method for you. You can also learn more about the method that’s right for you down below.

There are two categories of contraceptive methods:

Short-acting contraception

These types of contraception methods work best when they are used in short time intervals from single use (e.g. the condom), daily intake (e.g. the pill) to up to 3 months (e.g. the injection). These contraceptives need to be used or taken regularly or each time you have sex and all of these methods can be used over many years. They are reversible, meaning that once you stop using them, the contraceptive effect wears off quickly and women can become pregnant.

Long-acting reversible contraception (LARCs)

Long-acting reversible contraception is a term used to describe contraceptives which protect against pregnancy for a long period of time. They are the most effective contraceptives because they do not depend on you remembering to take or use them to be effective.


Both the hormonal implant and the intrauterine methods are available for long-acting protection, and are highly effective in keeping you pregnancy free for up to 3, 5 or 10 years. They are reversible, meaning that once you stop using them the contraceptive effect wears off quickly and women can become pregnant.

Explore all the methods under these categories and make sure you discuss anything that interests you with your partner and healthcare provider.

Want to find out more about long-acting reversible contraceptives? Watch this AMAZE.org video!

Do you want to know which contraceptive method may work best for you? Take this quiz!

Find out which contraceptive options are available to you and how they each work here

Learn how the morning-after pill works in this article

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