- Birth control measures prevent unwanted pregnancies
- It is available for men and women
- There are different types: barrier, hormonal, permanent, IUDs and behavioral
- Most of them are effective if used properly
Birth Control or Contraception is any method that prevents unintended or unplanned pregnancy. Some methods also prevent infection of sexually transmitted diseases. Based on its characteristics, contraception methods have been divided into five.
- Barrier methods
It includes devices that prevent the sperm from entering the uterus. Male condoms, female condoms, diaphragms, cervical caps and other similar devices are some examples of barrier method contraceptives.
They are pills or devices that act upon the natural hormones in the body in a way to prevent pregnancy. It is mostly for women.
- Intrauterine devices
They are T-shaped devices that are inserted into the uterus thus preventing the pregnancy. They are long acting reversible birth controls and most effective too.
It is a surgical form of preventing the chances of pregnancy. Though attributed as permanent, with the advanced health care facilities, there are people who want to reverse their ability of reproduction.
- Natural methods
They are harmless intervention methods that monitor the menstrual cycle and prevent the chances of pregnancy by having intercourse accordingly.
Birth control plays an important role in family planning, and hence the availability of contraceptive methods has been a major concern for international health organizations. As per statistics, around 60 percent of those who are married and able to have children use birth control methods globally.
The most common contraceptive methods are:
- Oral pills
It is usually taken every day. The hormones in the pill stop ovulation. Thus, fertilization will not take place. The hormones also make the cervical mucus thick, and it becomes difficult for the sperm to reach the egg.
As per data, oral pills are 91 percent effective in preventing pregnancy.
- Birth control ring
It is another option of contraception that releases hormones preventing fertilization. The hormones released by the rings will be absorbed by the vagina and stops the process of ovulation. The birth control rings are generally inserted into the vagina and need to be replaced after a certain period.
They are soft latex pouches that are available for both men and women. For men, the latex pouch can be worn on the penis while for women it can be inserted into the vagina. It collects the semen in it and prevents the sperm meeting the egg.
The most important things about condoms are it prevents infection of sexually transmitted diseases. Hence, it is widely used in both Western, African and Asian countries. It is also less expensive and available.
As per the data, condoms are 82 percent effective. If used correctly as per the instructions like the proper wearing of it, it will be 100 percent effective.
Intrauterine devices (IUDs) are t-shaped devices inserted inside your uterus preventing the sperms reaching the eggs. They are of two types: Copper IUDs and hormonal IUDs. These devices are 99 percent effective in preventing pregnancy.
Copper IUDs: the copper acts as a spermicide inside the uterus. Thus the sperm won’t meet the egg and fertilization did not happen.
Hormonal IUDs: these IUDs once inserted release progesterone hormone which creates an atmosphere against sperms. The cervical mucus becomes thick, and so sperm doesn’t reach an egg.
- Withdrawal or interrupted coitus
It is the practice of ending intercourse before ejaculation. Hence the semen would not enter the vagina. If the pulling out did not happen timely, it may lead to pregnancy.
It is the surgical process for permanent prevention of pregnancy. The fallopian tubes are blocked or closed permanently so that the sperm won’t reach the egg. But the ovulation takes place, and the woman even after surgery gets the regular menstrual cycle. The process is also called as Tubal Ligation.
Though it is said to be permanent, a major surgical procedure can reverse the condition, but may not be effective always. Sterilization also decreases your chance of ovarian cancer, according to expert opinion.
Despite the effective advantages of these birth controls, there are some myths propagating around about its side effects.
Some of the myths are:
- Contraception leads to weight gain
Be it oral pills or IUDs; some people think it can cause weight gain. But studies have rejected it substantiating that contraception alone cannot increase your weight. Many other factors like lifestyle influence weight gain.
- Loss of fertility
Some believe that using contraception for long may affect your fertility. It is again another wrong data. Using contraception for longer years make you aged. As you get older your chances of getting pregnant or your fertility may come down.
- No need of contraception if you are breastfeeding
Though breastfeeding decreases your hormonal action that supports a pregnancy, it does not prevent. Hence contraception is needed to do the job.
Effective birth control measures help you stay out of unwanted pregnancy. Considering the uncontrolled population figures and increasing poverty, family planning plays a major role in a nation’s development. As per WHO guidelines, any of the birth control methods should be made available to the public at a lower cost as part of family planning policies.
Provisions are available in government hospitals and local health care centers to insert IUD contraception and also to remove it. After consultation with the gynecologist, women these days choose sterilization if they are sure not to have children anymore in the future. Being a largely populated country, birth control methods are important in India and even the poorest people in the society should be made aware of the birth control methods and their benefits.