The only 100% surefire way to not become pregnant if you're a fertile young woman is abstinence, but I'm sure you all know that. The second option is to use contraceptives; and this is sometimes difficult in a culturally conservative country like ours, especially if you're unmarried. Luckily, there are contraceptives that you can easily get off the counter at pharmacies, or organizations who are more than willing to help you out by providing medical support and services. The pull out method and the rhythm method are both unreliable.
Tl;dr, there are quite a few long term and short term methods to avoid pregnancy, even for as long as 10 years without any chemical alterations. Here they are.
One of the more obvious options, condoms are about 98% effective in preventing pregnancy. It's also one of the only ways to prevent Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STIs), and doesn't involve hormonal changes; basically, the condom and the IUD are the only things which doesn't have a role in controlling your hormones.
You can get a pack of condoms (3 a packet) for as little as Rs. 50 or as much as Rs. 230, depending on the brand. Preethi's on the lower rung of the price list, whilst Durex is one of the more expensive ones. You can order these online (sites have been hyperlinked), or get them at any pharmacy.
Oral Contraceptive Pills (OCP)
One of the more popular OCPs here is Mithuri (manufactured by Bayer Schering Pharma, Germany), and is easily accessible from any pharmacy at just Rs. 100. It contains low doses of Estrogen and Progestine, which are basically female hormones. The packet lasts a month, and also helps to regulate your periods and reduce cramps and pains. There are 28 pills, of which 21 are the hormone ones and the rest are placebo pills: you get your periods as soon as you stop taking the hormones and start on the placebo. Given that you're supposed to take this daily at approximately the same time, the placebo pills are in place to help you maintain and not break the habit. Keep in mind that there are quite a few oral contraceptives available, and you should consult a doctor to help you find the one that best suits your body.
Emergency Contraceptive Pills
As the name implies, this is for emergencies and should be taken within 72 hours of unprotected sexual intercourse – for example if the condom breaks. Gynos strongly recommend not making this a habit, and this could cause painful cramps and premature spotting or periods. There are six brands available and recommended in Sri Lanka, including Emcom, Madonna, Pill72, Postinor 1, Postinor 2, and Pregnon.
Postinor 1, Postinor 2 and Pill72 have been vetted and approved by regulatory authorities such as the World Health Organization, the US Food and Drug Administration, and European Medicines Authority.
You can find Postinor 1 and Postinor 2 for Rs. 150 and Rs. 120 respectively, at any of your local pharmacies or at the FPA.
Remember though, it's more effective the sooner you take it as opposed to later, as its effectiveness decreases closer to the 72 hour deadline and you can still end up becoming pregnant.
The Intrauterine Device (IUD) is a T-shaped copper and plastic contraption that's inserted into your uterus by a professional medical personnel. It prevents sperm from reaching the egg, and the copper also acts as spermicide. The device can last for up to 10 years, and can be removed (again, by a doctor only) any time before that. It doesn't disrupt your ability to conceive, and a woman can get pregnant immediately after removal.
While many doctors here say it's only inserted in women who have already given birth, the Family Planning Association (FPA) does it for anyone regardless of their marital or parental status.
The price of a Copper T IUD is just Rs. 400.
Giving you protection for upto 5 years, two tiny incisions are made in your upper arm to insert a couple of thin plastic rods under your skin. Depending on the brand you get, it either releases etonogestrel or levonorgestrel. The FPA has Jadelle (just Rs. 2,500). This can be removed at any desired time, and you can conceive directly after its removal as well. It boasts of over 99% effectiveness.
To be administered once in every three months, the injection is more than 99% effective and is great if you don't want to worry about the hassle of remembering your pills every day. On the downside, it's not reversible, so if you have any side-effects (moodswings, tender breasts, irregular bleeding) you'll have to live with it until its effects wear out. It also can take as long as one year for you to become fertile again, so this isn't your best option if you want to conceive as soon as you stop contraceptives.
You can get Depo-Provera for Rs. 255.
If you want advice on contraceptives or family planning methods, you can visit or call up the Family Planning Association (FPA), who are more than willing to offer help, support, and reproductive medical necessities for a nominal fee with no questions asked. Everything we've mentioned above — including check-ups and services — can be obtained at their head office at Buller's Lane, Colombo 07. If you have any questions, drop a comment or buzz them up for professional help at 0112 555455. They're open from 8 AM to 4:30 PM.
The FPA also has service delivery points in the Batticaloa, Mankulam, Ampara, Kogalla, Nuwaraeliya and Maradana areas.
For more comprehensive advice on sex, sexual health, contraception, and STIs, check out our article.