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Birth control

Birth control or contraception methods are the one’s used to prevent conception and pregnancy to occur. There a number of methods that can be used according to choice or necessity. They are freely available and must be used to prevent unwanted pregnancy and abortions. They also help in enabling you to enjoy sexual life without risk, worry or inhibition.

Methods

  • Barrier methods
  • Hormonal methods
  • Intrauterine devices
  • Surgical methods
  • Natural methods

How to choose

  • Personal choice
  • Age
  • Health status
  • Presence or risk of disease
  • Individual suitability
  • Duration for which contraception is required

Barrier Methods

Condoms

Available for both men and women. They are made of thin sheath and work as barrier for sperm to enter female genital tract. They also help in protection against sexually transmitted diseases. Males wear condoms on penis before intercourse by simply rolling it over when in erect state. Precaution is that it should not be torn or slips after ejaculation when penis becomes relaxed. It should not be put in toilet but should be carefully thrown in bin. Female condom is worn inside vagina before intercourse. Condoms are about 98% reliable.

Hormonal methods

Pills

These are hormone based pills used by females. These can be single or combined hormone estrogen and progesterone. Taken daily for 21 days and then a break of 7 days.They stop the ovulation that is release of female egg. These are about 99% effective. These are not recommended if there is heart disease risk.

Injection

These are hormone based injections. Also prevent sperm reaching the egg. They work similar to pills but required less frequently. About 99% effective. Some side effects are mood swings, increase in weight, headache and thinning of bones.

Contraceptive patch

A patch which releases hormone is put on arm. One patch for a week, three such and then break of one week. Work like pills. Effectiveness is about 99%.

Contraceptive Implant

A tiny instrument put under skin of arm by medical professional. It releases hormones like patch. It protects for three years but is irreversible. About 99% effective.

Diaphragms and caps

Reusable, made of rubber or silicon these are inserted into vagina. They contain spermicide, an agent to kill sperm. They work as both barrier and by killing sperm cells. About 96% effective.

Emergency contraception

In case where other method has gone wrong like torn condom or after unprotected sex, one can use emergency contraception. There are two kinds. Pills to be used within 48 hours and Intra Uterine Device within five days of exposure.About 95 to 99 % effective.

Intrauterine Devices and system

Intra Uterine Devices IUDare tiny devices made of copper and plastic that is placed inside female genital tract. They work for years. They prevent sperm from travelling to cervix and also prevent implantation. About 99% effective.Can be removed when not required. When such devices are used with hormones they are called Intra Uterine System IUS. They prevent ovulation in addition to IUD action. They too are 99% effective.

Surgical method

This is the surgical method of contraception in which the pathway is obstructed through a simple surgery. It is vasectomy in males or tubal ligation in females. Although permanent but a reversal can be tried in cases. These are free from side effects and offer almost 100% protection.

Natural methods

These methods work on the understanding of menstrual cycle.

Calendar based abstinence – Regulating the timing of intercourse to prevent conception. Time when egg is present for fertilization is prevented. Abstinence can be long term method if that is ok for both to remain without sex.

Lactation – First six months after delivery if the mother is breast feeding the child, the conception does not occur.

Withdrawal – Also called coitus interruptus. During intercourse penis is withdrawn just before ejaculation. This is highly risky due to failure of withdrawal in time.

Body based method – In this symptoms of body like body temperature are used to determine most fertile period and that is avoided.

Dual protection

Combining two birth control methods is helpful in increasing effectiveness of methods. Adding barrier method can help in preventing sexually transmitted diseases. Sometimes they compliment each other like combination of natural and barrier method.

Real facts to dispel misconceptions

There are many misconcepts but must be removed. Here are the real facts:

  • Douching or washing of female genital tract after intercourse does not protect.
  • No menstruation like in young girls before her first period is no guarantee against conception.
  • Sex during less fertile phase can still cause pregnancy.
  • Conception can not be increased or decreased by altering sex positions.