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Contraception Services

Family planning and contraceptive method differs from person to person. Contraception services to prevent an unplanned pregnancy may include copper IUD, combined pill, injection, patch, condoms for him and her, female sterilization and vasectomy.


Marie Stopes South Africa is the country’s largest non-profit provider of sexual and reproductive healthcare services. As part of the 38 country-strong Marie Stopes International Global Partnership, we have access to a latest innovations and expertise in the field of sexual and reproductive health.

In South Africa, we operate 14 centres across 6 provinces which offer:

  • Safe abortion care
  • A range of long and short acting contraceptives
  • Emergency contraception
  • Pap smears / cervical cancer screening
  • Women’s wellness exams
  • HIV counselling and testing
  • Screening and management of STIs
  • Pregnancy tests and scans

The fees we charge are cross-subsidised across our network, meaning centres are able to offer prices that best suit the communities they serve. Any surplus we generate is reinvested back into our core work. This ensures we continue to grow our reach and make women’s health matter.


Each contraceptive method works slightly differently but they all create one or more of the following effects to prevent pregnancy:

  1. Alters uterine lining. Prevents the lining of the womb (endometrium) from getting prepped to receive an egg.
  2. Changes cervical fluid. Thickens mucus in the cervix to prevent sperm from getting through.
  3. Stops ovulation. Prevents an egg from being released, makes body think that it has already happened.

Short acting methods

Combined pill  
  • Packet contains pills for one month
  • Can reduce PMS symptoms (cramps, headaches etc)
  • Doesn’t affect periods

Progestogen-only pill

  • Packet contains pills for one month
  • Suits those who can’t take oestrogen due to medical condition or breastfeeding

Injection (Intra-uterine system)

  • Two to three months depending on injection
  • Lighter or no periods


  • Packet contains patches for one month
  • Doesn’t affect periods
  • Needs to be changed weekly

Long acting methods

Copper IUD (Intra-uterine device) a.k.a “loop”

  • Lasts 5 to 10 years
  • Non-hormonal
  • One visit to clinic for fitting and yearly check ups

Hormonal IUS (Intra-uterine system)

  • Lasts 5 years
  • Low dose, slow release of hormone
  • Lighter/no periods 
  • One visit to clinic for fitting and  yearly check ups


Barrier methods for dual protection

Male condoms

  • New condom everytime you have sex
  • Easy to access (sold in packs of 3, 12 and 24 or free at Marie Stopes centre or local clinic)
  • No mess
  • Protect against STIs and HIV

Female condoms

  • New condom everytime you have sex
  • Female-controlled
  • Sold in packs of 3 or free
  • Can be inserted up to 8 hours before sex
  • Only needed when sexually active
  • No mess, can remain in vagina when penis becomes flaccid

Tubal ligation/female sterilisation

  • Permanent for women
  • Suits those who have completed their families or do not want children


  • Permanent for men
  • Quick 10-minute procedure, less invasive than female sterilisation
  • No effect on sexual pleasure or performance

Emergency Contraception

Emergency contraceptive tablets a.k.a.“morning after pill”

  • Can be used within 5 days of unprotected sex
  • Provides a back-up plan to avoid an unplanned pregnancy after unprotected sex

Copper IUD

  • Can be fitted within 5 days of unprotected sex
  • Fitted in emergency but can stay in place for up to 10 years as a long-acting contraceptive method



  • Follow the packet instructions, check expiry date and check to make sure it stays on during sex.
  • Only condoms protect against HIV and STIs.
  • Use a condom with another contraceptive method for dual protection.


Whether you are starting to use contraception for the first time, or looking into a new method it’s a good idea to make time for a full consultation.

Schedule time with a nurse or doctor who can talk with you about your options.

Remember, no method of contraception is 100% effective.

Note that some methods are not advisable for women with certain health concerns, so it is important to be open and honest about your full medical history.

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