Contraception! Get it sorted with Students’ Health Service…

Congratulations and welcome to Bristol, a fantastic city to study in and with endless fun to be had…Fresher’s week, parties, music venues, new friends, new surroundings and, last but not least, a new university course to get to grips with!


So before you get stuck in, get all your contraceptive needs sorted with us! We pride ourselves on being friendly and approachable and it’s all confidential so just book an appointment and come and talk to us.


So what are your options?

There are many different contraceptive methods available and you should choose one that suits you. Long Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC) has become a very popular option, especially for young adults.

We can provide LARC for free here at the SHS, as well as all the other contraceptive methods available.


All LARC is over 99% effective and they do not depend on you remembering to take them or use them to be effective…








  • Small flexible rods inserted under the skin.
  • Releases the hormone progesterone
  • Stops ovulation & a fertilized egg implanting
  • Prevents sperm reaching an egg
  • Lasts for 3 years but can be removed earlier
  • When removed, fertility will return to normal.


It’s a simple procedure that we can do at SHS and takes very little time. It also does not hurt to have it inserted or removed as we numb your arm!


The coil


There are two types of coil

The Copper Coil (IUD)

  • Small plastic and copper device inserted into the uterus
  • Prevents sperm reaching an egg
  • May stop a fertilised egg implanting
  • Lasts 5–10 years (depending on type) but can be removed earlier
  • When removed, fertility returns to normal


Some women find their periods may be heavier or longer or more painful so it perhaps not the best choice for someone who already has problematic periods.

Mirena (IUS)

  • Small, T-shaped plastic device inserted into the uterus
  • Releases the hormone progesterone
  • Prevents sperm reaching an egg
  • Prevents fertilised egg implanting & may stop ovulation
  • Lasts for for 5 years but can be removed earlier
  • When removed fertility returns to normal.


Women usually find their periods usually become lighter, shorter and sometimes less painful and they may stop altogether after the first few months it has been inserted.  A great option for those struggling with painful and/or heavy periods as well as a great contraceptive!




  • Injection releases the hormone progesterone which works in same way as implant
  • Lasts for 12 weeks (Depo-Provera)
  • Periods may stop altogether or may become irregular.


Your periods and fertility may take time to return after you stop using the injection.




REMEMBER…Most methods of contraception DO NOT protect from STIs so use a condom if required!


We can provide these for FREE!


If you have had sex without contraception, or you think your method might have failed, please see us ASAP for emergency contraception.


If you think one of the above methods might be for you or you want to have a chat about other methods, please give our reception team a call, tell them what you want to discuss,  and they can book you in with the right health care professional. Or you can use our on line booking system.


See you all soon!!

Contraception; your options!

Dear students, and in particular those new to the university and Bristol.

Welcome! You have picked a great city and it’s an exciting time for you all. Parties, Fresher’s week, new friends, often your first time away from home and a new course to get stuck into.

First let me introduce myself. I am Dr Tim Percival; lead GP for contraception at the Students’ Health Service (SHS). I felt it was a good time to get the message out to you all regarding your choices, what we can offer and trying to correct some of the common misconceptions regarding contraception.

We have comprehensive facilities to manage the vast majority of all contraception and sexual health issues from:-

  • Choosing the right contraception and sorting subsequent problems
  • Diagnosis and treatment of sexually transmitted infections (STI’s)
  • Taking cervical smears (if over 25 years)
  • Providing condoms and pregnancy tests free of charge
  • Generally helping you with any symptoms and problems ‘down below’.

We pride ourselves on being approachable and friendly, and we take confidentiality very seriously. So please just come and talk to us!

It is commonly thought that the contraceptive pill and condoms are the ‘usual and only’ options.Condoms are good protection from STIs and are a relatively safe method of contraception but ONLY IF USED CONSISTENTLY AND CORRECTLY.

The pill is a very good option too, especially for those that like good control of their periods. It is a misconception that the pill makes everyone put on weight and become very ‘hormonal’…this is unusual. It is also not a problem to continue the pill long term if you’re fit and healthy.

Longer Acting Reversible Contraceptives (or LARC’s) are becoming very popular for good reason. They give you the benefit of highly reliable contraception that is not prone to ‘user failure’ i.e. ‘had a few heavy nights and forgot my pill’! They are also statistically better at preventing pregnancy. The options are:-

  • Contraceptive implant called nexplanon,
  • Contraceptive injection or depo
  • Intrauterine devices i.e. the copper or hormone coils.

Let’s take each of these in turn and try and dispel some common misconceptions!


  • Injected into inner upper arm where can’t be seen and releases hormone slowly
  • Lasts 3 years
  • Generally a simple insertion and removal with at most mild pain from small anaesthetic injection similar to vaccination
  • Very highly effective
  • Low risk hormonal side effects


  • Injected invisibly into upper buttock and hormone released slowly
  • Lasts 3 months
  • Mild pain from injection similar to vaccination
  • Very highly effective


  • 2 types 1) copper (IUD) and 2) Mirena (Hormone IUS).
  • Copper IUD lasts 10 years, has no hormones but can make periods slightly heavier so good for any of you with lighter periods
  • Mirena IUS lasts 5 years, has very small amounts of hormone that works locally in the womb to lighten periods so good for those with heavier periods
  • Both very highly effective
  • Can be fitted even if not had children!
  • Can be fitted at Students’ Health
  • Do not make you infertile in the long term (only when device in place!!)
  • Usually mild-moderate period like cramps during fitting. Usually not significant pain during insertion as commonly believed


Please remember that none of the above methods protect you against STIs so make sure you also use a condom unless:-

  • with a regular partner,
  • AND you have both had comprehensive STI screening
  • AND you are using an alternative contraceptive method e.g. pill/coil/implant etc.

 If you do have unprotected sex then please see us ASAP for emergency contraception. If we are not open chemists, A+E departments and sexual health clinics can also supply this for you. If you do get pregnant and don’t want to be please try not to panic and see us for advice on your options.

Hope this is helpful. Look forward to meeting some of you. EnjoyBristol!

Dr Tim Percival

GP Students’ Health Service