More women in Worcestershire are turning away from the pill and condoms in favour of longer-lasting contraception, figures show.

NHS data shows that women who get their contraception from local sexual health clinics are increasingly choosing these more invasive, but longer-lasting methods.

In 2017-18, contraceptives like the implant, the coil or the injection were the method of choice for 36% of women visiting local clinics.

That's a slight increase compared to 2014-15, when 35% of women chose these methods.

Despite this, contraceptives like condoms and the pill were still the preferred pick for women - with 64% choosing the short-term method.

NHS guidelines say that well-organised people with regular routines are well-suited to short-term contraceptives - using condoms every time you have sex, or taking the pill every day.

The guidelines say the pill is more than 99% effective at preventing pregnancy if it's taken according to instructions.

Women wanting a more permanent method can get an intrauterine device - more commonly known as the coil - which can last for up to 10 years.

But having the device fitted can be uncomfortable, and it may initially cause unpleasant side effects like cramping and longer, heavier periods.

The implant, which is put into the upper arm, lasts three years and is very easy to remove. A contraceptive injection covers a shorter period - lasting for 8 to 13 weeks.

In Worcestershire, 11% of women said they were using the coil as their main method of contraception, while 11% opted for the implant and 14% for the injection.

On the short-term side, 59% of women said they were taking the pill, and 4% said that they used condoms as the main method.

All methods of contraception have advantages and disadvantages, says sexual health charity the Family Planning Association, and there are lots of factors that influence contraceptive choice.

"The combined pill is still a popular choice, and has a range of advantages such as making periods lighter, and reducing PMS symptoms," said FPA deputy chief executive Bekki Burbidge.

"But you have to remember to take it at around the same time each day, and it can be easy to miss one," she added. "If it's not always used according to instructions then it's only around 91% effective.

"In contrast, long-acting reversible methods are over 99% effective and also really convenient.

"Once you have one fitted you don't need to think about or remember to use contraception, which gives them a great advantage."

Ms Burbidge said that ultimately, there is no universal approach to deciding what contraceptive is best to use.

She said: "It all depends on your lifestyle and preferences, and what's best for you is likely to change over time."

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidelines suggest that increased uptake of long-acting reversible contraceptives could reduce costs for the NHS, as well as being the most effective way to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

NICE, Public Health England and the Government all recommend that women should be encouraged to consider longer-acting methods.

The NHS figures may not paint a full picture of the choices women make, since it is limited to women who visit specialist services for contraceptive advice.

In Worcestershire, 8,010 women went to sexual health clinics to get their contraception, rather than going to their GP or opting for over-the-counter methods.

Sexual health clinics are maintained by local councils, rather than the NHS, and many councils have reduced or plan to reduce funding for these services.

RCN's public health lead nurse Helen Donovan said that a more "integrated service" would provide women with advice and information on the best contraceptive for them, and support them through the process.

"This may not be available in all clinics," she said. "The question is whether women are being offered the most appropriate contraception for their needs, and given the right support and relationship guidance counselling alongside that."

In England there has been an increase in the uptake of long-acting contraceptives over the last four years, with 41% choosing these methods compared with 37% in 2014-15.

In the West Midlands, this figure also increased - from 34% in 2014-15 to 40% in 2017-18.