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What you need to know about contraception in Australia

We help you find the right contraception for you

Two young international students laughing in a hallway together
Two young international students laughing in a hallway together

There’s a lot to think about when deciding what kind of contraception to use. The pill, IUDs, condoms, implants… you have numerous choices available, and it can be overwhelming making a decision. This article will help you navigate your contraception choices in Australia. 

First off, know that all international students can access contraception in Australia. It’s important to consider your health and circumstances, and even consult a medical professional, before deciding the type of contraception for you. 

To get you started, here’s what you need to know about contraception in Australia. 

What to consider when deciding on contraception 

How effective it is at preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections

While contraceptives work to prevent pregnancy, it’s important to remember that no method of contraception is 100% effective. Plus, hormonal contraceptives do not work to prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs).  

So, if you’re using hormonal contraception, you may want to consider additional barrier protection, like condoms (which also help to prevent pregnancy!) to protect against STIs like chlamydia, gonorrhoea or HIV. 

How easy it is to use 

Some methods rely on consistent daily use to be effective (such as the pill) or require regular visits to the doctor (like contraceptive injections) and have higher margins of error. Others, like IUDs, work for 5-10 years once fitted and typically don’t need any maintenance. 

What side effects or additional benefits it may have 

Make sure you’re aware of the side effects of different contraception methods. Some side effects from contraception are normal – especially if you’re trialling a new contraceptive. For example, mood changes, nausea or headaches. But if you experience severe side effects, you need to talk to your doctor. And if you aren’t satisfied with their response, or you feel like your concerns aren’t being taken seriously, book an appointment with a different doctor. 

There may be some further benefits to different contraceptives too. As well as preventing pregnancy, some contraceptives may also assist with reducing acne or helping to regulate your period. 

Easy access and reducing the cost

The cost of contraceptives varies in Australia, depending on the method you choose.  

If you have never taken the contraceptive pill, you will need to visit a GP for an exam and get a prescription. Your first visit to a GP to receive an initial script for contraceptive prescription will be covered by your Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) with nib, up to the MBS rate. To avoid having to pay more out of pocket, look through the nib First Choice Network of GPs and choose a practice that’s located near you. 

However, if you are currently using or have previously used the contraceptive pill, you can order contraceptive prescription from using your nib App and have it delivered straight to your door. Best of all, nib pays the cost of the consultation fee and delivery for OSHC members, you just pay for the cost of the contraceptive pills.  

Here’s how it works:  

 4 easy steps to get your contraceptive pill with

  1. 1

    Enter your nib membership number

  1. 1

    Answer a few questions about your health

  1. 1

    The medical team review your health profile 

  1. 1

    Delivered fast in discreet packaging

Most importantly, what contraception you use is entirely your choice! Not your friends’, partner’s, family members’, or doctor’s choice – YOURS. 

Two international students hugging and laughing together

What are my choices of contraception in Australia? 

There are many choices of contraception in Australia – this contraception matchmaker quiz can help you find out what options to consider.  

Here are just a few of your options: 

Intrauterine device (IUD)  

An IUD is a small plastic or copper device that is inserted into your uterus by a medical professional. Depending on whether you choose a hormonal or copper IUD, they are more than 99% effective, fully reversible, and can last anywhere from 5-10 years

It costs around $200 for a hormonal IUD and up to $250 for a copper one. However, the insertion by a doctor can cost over $300 out of pocket – but the price varies between clinics. Your OSHC with nib can help cover the cost of both the IUD itself and insertion.  

Contraceptive implant (Implanon) 

The Implanon is a small device inserted under the skin on your arm. Like the hormonal IUD, it releases progesterone into the bloodstream to prevent pregnancy.  

The device itself costs around $40, but the insertion appointment is an additional cost. It is very effective (99%) and lasts for three years, but is known to change a person’s usual bleeding pattern. 

The pill 

The contraceptive pill is a small hormonal pill taken daily. The pill is 99% effective if you take it at the same time every day. However, if you aren’t using it perfectly, it's effectiveness will drop.  

Depending on the type of pill, it costs anywhere between $10 and $30 for three months’ supply, plus the cost of the doctor’s appointment to obtain the prescription.  

Once you’ve got an assessment and prescription from a GP, you can subscribe to online services, such as Youly. They’ll discreetly and quickly deliver all of your repeat prescriptions to your door, so you’ll never run out.  

Vaginal ring (NuvaRing) 

The NuvaRing is a self-inserted device that uses the same hormones as the contraceptive pill to prevent pregnancy. It’s about about 99% effective if inserted correctly. However, it only lasts for three weeks, so you need to make sure you remove and replace it on time.  

If you’ve already had a doctor prescribe you the NuvaRing, you can order your repeats online so you never miss a replacement.  


Condoms are a thin latex or polyurethane barrier, worn on a penis to provide protection against both pregnancy and STIs. They’re cheap, easily accessible and, if used correctly, are 98% effective at preventing pregnancy.  

You can purchase them at the supermarket or pharmacy, but many sexual health clinics offer free condoms.  

Sometimes condoms can break or fall off if not used correctly, which reduces their effectiveness.  

Can I access the morning after pill in Australia? 

The emergency contraceptive pill is legal and accessible in Australia. It is used after unprotected sex to prevent pregnancy. It is safe to use and up to 85% effective at preventing pregnancy. You must take it within 72 hours (three days) after unprotected sex – but it is more effective the sooner you take it.  

You can purchase the emergency contraceptive pill from pharmacies without a prescription, from Youly and from local sexual health services. 

Just know that the morning after pill isn’t an ongoing form of contraception. 

How do I access contraception in Australia? 

General practitioner (GP) 

It’s important to discuss your contraceptive choices with a doctor. That way they can monitor how your body responds to your chosen contraception, and help you stay on top of STI and cervical screenings, as well as your general wellbeing.  


If you are currently taking or have previously used the contraceptive pill, you can considering a pharmaceutical delivery service like for repeat scripts on your contraception prescription, it’s fast and convenient. For international students on nib OSHC, nib pays the cost of the consultation fee and delivery, you just pay for the cost of the contraceptive pills.  

Local sexual health services 

All states and territories in Australia offer low-cost sexual health services, counselling and a wealth of online resources that can help you make informed contraceptive choices.  

On-campus health services 

Check with your university or educational institution to find out what services they provide. Many offer free or low-cost on-campus healthcare, which covers sexual and reproductive health. 

Remember to reach out to the nib team if you have questions about accessing contraception with your OSHC as an international student in Australia.  

The tips throughout this article serve as broad information and should not replace any advice you have been given by your medical practitioner.