Contraception (family planning) | Western Cape Government

Contraception (family planning)


Different forms of contraceptives
When it comes to choosing a method of contraception, understanding the pros and cons of each method is important.

While you may have many options to choose from, you should choose a method that best suits your health.

Here are the answers to some of the questions you may have.

Why should I use contraceptives?
Contraceptives can help you prevent unwanted pregnancies, and the use of condoms also helps prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

What services does the Western Cape Government offer me?
We have reproductive clinics across the province that provide access to free counselling and contraceptives.

Who can use these services?
Women, men and teenagers who want to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

Do I need permission to use contraceptives?
You have the right to use contraceptives without permission from your parents and partner. A mentally disabled individual however, will only receive surgery after a board of healthcare professionals have approved it.

Methods of contraception: the pros and cons

Male and female condoms


Condoms are the only single method that offers dual protection. Condoms are free of charge at clinics and are affordable at some pharmacies and shops.


  • Condoms can protect you against STIs.
  • It prevents unwanted pregnancies.
  • Condoms are free and easily accessible. 


  • Condoms can break.
  • You may have an allergic reaction to latex condoms.
  • You need to find the right size as a bigger size can slip off.

Hormone patches

This contraceptive is a sticker with 3 layers. It thickens your cervical mucus and prevents sperm from entering your womb. You can apply it to your lower and upper body, but not around your breasts.


  • It can prevent menstrual cramps.
  • It helps prevent acne.
  • It's easy to use.


  • It doesn't protect against STIs.
  • If your patch is exposed to a lot of light, it may not be as effective.
  • You may get blood clots, but there's very little chance of that happening.

Oral contraception for women (the pill)

These pills come in a packet of 28 and you should take them once daily at the same time. There are 2 main types: combined oral contraceptive (COC) pills and progestogen-only contraceptive (POP) pills.


  • The pill can offer relief from painful menstrual cramps.
  • It can reduce acne.
  • It's also free of charge at most clinics.


  • It doesn't protect against STIs.
  • You may experience migraines and gain weight.
  • It also increases your risk of suffering a stroke.

Contraceptive injection for women

There are 2 types: Nur-Isterate, which is given every 2 months (eight weeks) and Depo Provera or Petogen (DMPA) which is given every 3 months (12 weeks).


  • You don’t need to remember to take it every day.
  • It's effective in preventing pregnancy.
  • It gives protection against womb cancer.


  • You may have an irregular menstrual cycle.
  • Fertility may only return a few weeks after you stop the injection.
  • You can gain weight.

Intrauterine device (IUD)

An IUD is a small device that is put into a women's uterus (womb) by a specially trained health worker.


  • The UID can prevent pregnancy for at least five years.
  • The device can be removed at any time.
  • It can reduce menstrual bleeding.


  • It can increase pain when you’re menstruating.
  • You may experience painful headaches and backaches.
  • It doesn't protect against STIs.

Emergency contraception

You can use this to prevent pregnancy after unprotected and unconsenual sex. If you suspect that the contraception used during sexual intercourse didn't work properly, you should also use it. Copper IUDs are also used for emergency contraception.


  • It’s available at most pharmacies.
  • You don’t need a prescription.
  • It's highly effective.


  • You may experience nausea, headaches and fatigue after using the pill.
  • It doesn't protect against STIs.
  • You have have abdominal pain after using it. 

Subdermal implants

A subdermal implant is a small plastic rod (matchstick size) that's placed under the skin of the upper arm by a trained healthcare provider. 


  • A single rod implant is used for 3 years and a 2 rod implant for 5 years.
  • You can use it while breastfeeding.
  • It's highly effective.


  • You may experience nausea, headaches, dizziness, breast tenderness and mood changes.
  • It doesn't protect against STIs.
  • You may have an irregular menstrual cycle. 

Male and female sterilisation

This is a permanent contraceptive method for both women and men. Before you receive this treatment, a health care worker should provide counselling.


  • It's a short and simple procedure.
  • It's free at some health care facilities.
  • It protects against pregnancy


  • It doesn't prevent STIs.
  • The process can be reversed, but it doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to fall pregnant again.
  • You may experience some pain but should see your doctor for treatment.

Useful contacts

Before you choose a method of contraception, ensure that you get advice from a health care professional. You can access contraceptives and counselling at our health care clinics or contact these private institutions:

Planned Parenthood Association (PPSA) Western Cape:
Tel: 021 448 7312

Association for Voluntary Sterilisation of SA (AVSSA):
SMS/Whatsapp: 072 180 3130
Tel: 0861 000 332

Marie Stopes:
Tel:  021 681 1547
Call centre: 0800 11 77 85

Provided At: These facility categories:
Provided by:
Government Body: (Western Cape Government)

There is no charge at primary healthcare facilities and ambulance services are free of charge for clients who undergo sterilisation.

The content on this page was last updated on 19 October 2020