The What, Why and How’s of Birth Control

What is Birth Control?

Birth Control is also known as contraception or fertility control. It is a method or device used to prevent pregnancy. Birth Control has been used since ancient times, but effective and safe methods of birth control only became available in the 20th century.

Birth Control has several different options. While abstinence, or refraining from intercourse, is the only way to prevent pregnancy with 100 percent certainty, there are both non-hormonal and hormonal methods of contraception.

Why Birth Control?

Your choice of a birth control method depends on a number of factors, including your health, how often you have sex, and whether or not you want children. The use of contraception can significantly lower your chances of becoming pregnant. Some types of birth control can even lower your risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection.

People choose to use contraception for many reasons. The main reasons include:

1. You may have decided that you don’t want to have children or maybe just not now.

2. You may choose to use contraception to help space the timing of the births of your children.

3. You may not have a stable partner to help in parenting a child.

4. You feel that, at this time in your life, you are not able to take on the financial responsibilities of having a baby.

5. You may be feeling like your family is complete, so you want to make sure that you don't become pregnant again.

6. You do not feel ready to be a parent or feel that you are too young.

7. For health-related reasons, it may not be safe for you to have a baby.

What are the types of birth control?

As birth control is a way for men and women to prevent pregnancy, there are control options for both. The options for women include hormonal methods and non-hormonal methods. The options for men include temporary and permanent methods.

Non-hormonal methods generally create a physical barrier between the sperm and the egg. There are also two permanent methods requiring surgery: sterilization, or tubal ligation, for women, and vasectomy for men.

Hormonal methods generally make it less likely that a woman will release an egg, that an embryo will form, or that an embryo will be implanted.

Female Birth Control methods-


1. Abstinence

Abstinence is the only birth control that is 100 percent effective and is also the best way to protect you against STDs.

2. Barrier Methods

They include the use of female condoms, spermicidal jelly, diaphragm or cervical cap.

The female condom is a thin tube of latex or other material that fits inside the vagina and blocks sperm. This method may prevent some STDs. It can be inserted up to eight hours in advance of intercourse.

Spermicidal jelly is used in the form of a round plastic sponge saturated with spermicide that fits in the vagina to block and kill sperm. It can be left in for multiple acts of intercourse in 24 hours.

A cervical cap is a soft, flexible covering that fits over the cervix to prevent sperm from entering the uterus. You need to fill it with spermicide before use. The cap is a possible option for you if you don’t want the hormonal effects of the pill, implant, shot, or patch. It can be left in for multiple acts of intercourse in 48 hours.

The diaphragm is a soft, flexible disk that blocks the cervix. You need to cover it with spermicide before use. The diaphragm is a possible option for you if you don’t want the hormonal effects of the pill, implant, shot, or patch. It can be left in for multiple acts of intercourse in 24 hours if you insert more spermicide every six hours.

Hormonal Methods:

1. Oral Contraceptive Pill

This pill uses estrogen and progestin to prevent ovaries from releasing eggs and helps prevent sperm from entering the uterus by thickening cervical mucus. Some women prefer the pill because they don’t like the idea of having a birth control method that has to be inserted or implanted. The pill can also reduce the severity of period symptoms.

2. Injections

An injection of the hormone progestin is given every 90 days in a doctor’s office. It prevents pregnancy by affecting ovulation and the uterine lining, and thickening cervical mucus. All you have to remember is your doctor’s appointment.

3. Implants

An implant is a plastic rod about half the size of a matchstick that’s placed under your skin, it releases the hormone progestin, which affects ovulation and makes cervical mucus thicker to block sperm. It is one of the most effective options available. It lasts up to three years but can be removed at any time.

4. Intrauterine Contraceptive Devices

Intrauterine devices (IUDs) are small T-shaped instruments that are placed in your uterus during a doctor visit and remain there for several years. There are two kinds of IUDs. The copper IUD prevents a fertilized egg from implanting in your uterus. The hormonal version is the second kind of IUD. It releases progestin, which affects ovulation and makes cervical mucus thicker to block sperm.

5. Emergency Contraception

Emergency contraception is a form of birth control that may be used by women within 120 hours (five days) of having unprotected sex. This may be necessary in the case of contraceptive failure (broken condom), rape, or any other situation where highly effective contraception was not available. It is most effective when taken soon after unprotected intercourse. A copper IUD is the most effective form of emergency contraception, and also provides ongoing birth control.

It also includes processes like Tubal ligation, a surgery to "tie the tubes" (fallopian tubes) of a woman. This causes permanent sterility by preventing transport of the egg (ovum) to the uterus. This also blocks the passage of sperm up the tube to the ovulating ovary where fertilization normally occurs.

Male Birth Control Options-

Temporary Methods:

1. Abstinence

Abstinence is the only birth control that is 100 percent effective and is also the best way to protect you against STDs.

2. Coitus Interruptus (Withdrawal methods)

These are not effective methods of birth control when used on their own. Out of every five women using these methods to prevent pregnancy, one will get pregnant by the end of the year.

3. Barrier Methods

The male condom, or "rubber," is a thin covering made of latex, plastic or animal membrane that is rolled over an erect penis. The covering prevents semen - the fluid that contains sperm, from entering a woman's vagina.

Permanent Methods:

4. Vasectomy

Vasectomy is an outpatient surgery in which the tubes that carry sperm are cut and sealed so no sperm are released during ejaculation. This method is one of the most effective methods of birth control. Although it is effective only after three months when a doctor has verified that no semen is passing into the ejaculate. While a vasectomy can be reversed, you should consider it a permanent birth control solution.

Benefits of Birth Control Methods

Hormonal birth control is a lifesaver for many women trying to prevent unwanted pregnancy. They balance the hormonal fluctuations that happen throughout your cycle. Of course, non-hormonal methods have their benefits too. But hormonal birth control, including the pill, IUDs, implants, and patches, offer a range of benefits beyond pregnancy prevention.

The benefits include:

1. It regulates the menstrual cycle

2. It makes periods less painful

3. It can banish hormonal acne

4. It reduces the risk of uterine cancer

5. It reduces the risk of ovarian cysts

6. It can relieve symptoms of PMS and PMDD

7. It helps to manage endometriosis

8. It can help with menstrual migraines

9. It gives the freedom to bleed on your own terms

10. It can reduce your risk of anaemia

Side-effects of Birth Control Methods

Hormonal birth control isn’t for everyone. If you smoke and are over the age of 435, it can increase your risk of blood clots and high blood pressure. In addition, some types of hormonal birth control, such as combination pills and the patch, can increase your risk of blood clots and high blood pressure, even in nonsmokers.

For some, hormonal birth control can also cause a range of physical and emotional symptoms, from joint pain to psychosis. When choosing a birth control option, make sure to tell your doctor about any side effects you’ve experienced with other methods you’ve tried.

Hormonal birth control also doesn’t protect against sexually transmitted infections. Unless you’re with a long-term partner and you’ve both been tested, make sure to use a condom or other protective barrier during sexual activity.

Advice from one of the best hospitals for gynaecology in Hyderabad

Gynaecologists in Zoi Hospitals, Somajiguda and Attapur say, “As you can see there are multiple birth control methods offered today and each one is very different. It is important that women explore their options and become knowledgeable about their choices before committing to a certain type.

Also, there is not a method that is absolutely 100% effective other than complete abstinence, which is not having sex. Most birth control methods do not protect against STD/HIV and hence it is important for patients to communicate any concerns or queries with their doctor.

Finally, every contraceptive method has its own pros and cons, so practice safely!”


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