What Is Contraception?
Contraception is the process of preventing a woman from becoming pregnant when she has sex. It is also the use of a device or procedures to prevent conception as a result of sexual activity.
There are myths about contraception that conception can happen at any time in a month but research has shown that conception can only happen at fertile periods which varies in women. The number of days and period all vary in women depending on one’s hormonal levels and menstrual cycles as well.
What is Birth Control, it’s types and functions?
Birth control types are generally methods that help prevent sperm from meeting an egg (ovum). Its primary function is to prevent pregnancy and also to control the number of births (children) one intends having. There are various methods to birth control.
There are basically three types of birth control. They are:
· Hormonal Birth Control
· Natural Birth Control
· Barrier Birth Control
1. Hormonal Birth Control Methods:
These methods use hormones to prevent ovulation in a woman.
Birth Control Methods include:
· Birth Control Pills
· Hormonal Patches
· Birth Control Implants
· Vaginal Ring
Amongst all hormonal birth control methods, oral contraceptive pills are the most used.
Side Effects of Birth Control Pills (Oral Contraceptives)
· Weight Gain
· Skin Discoloration
· Mood swings
· Breast swelling or tenderness
Other severe complications include:
· Heart attacks
· Blood clots
Barrier Control Method:
This method prevents fertilization of the egg by a sperm cell by either killing sperm cells or through a physical block. They may be used in combination with other barrier methods for greater effectiveness.
Barrier control methods include:
· Cervical caps
· Spermicides (they kill sperm cells)
Side effects of Barrier Methods of Birth Control:
· If using a diaphragm and spermicide, there could be increased risk of developing UTIs(Urinary Tract Infections)
· Allergies to chemicals used in spermicide creams or other products. They could cause irritation of the vagina or penis.
· Leaving a diaphragm or cervical cap in for too long (more than 24 hours) increases risk of toxic shock syndrome.
Advantage of Barrier Methods:
They (barrier methods like condom) have the possibility of decreasing the risk of STIs (Sexually Transmitted Diseases)
Natural Birth Control Methods
This method involves keeping track of a woman’s menstrual cycle to determine her next ovulation period and avoid sexual Intercourse (or using barrier methods) during that period.
They include the use of:
· Ovulation test kits
· Cervical Mucus Examination
· Tracking Menstrual Cycles (Rhythm methods)
There are various ways used in detecting ovulation:
· Basal body temperature (Ovulation causes a slight increase in body temperature)
· Home Ovulation test kits
· Checking and Recording the consistency of Vaginal discharge
This method tends to be the least successful as they require accuracy and consistency in order to check, record, track and understand the results.
Surgical Sterilization Birth Control Method:
This is a permanent birth control method that is available for both men and women. A small coil known as Sterilization implant is inserted into the fallopian tubes. It is also a modern way of permanent birth control also available for women which prevents surgical procedures associated with tubal ligation.
· Vasectomy (for men)
· Tubal Ligation (for women)
· Risks of Surgical Sterilization:
· Infection or Bleeding
· Complications from anesthetic agents
· Swelling and Pain
For men after Vasectomy, it is usually advised they use a barrier method or other birth control methods for 10- 12 weeks or 15-20 ejaculation.
Emergency Contraception Birth Control Method:
It is a medication or device used to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex has happened. It should be taken within 72 hours after Intercourse. They are otherwise referred to as “morning after pills”.
Side effects of Emergency Contraception:
· Breast tenderness
· Lower Abdominal Pain
Intrauterine Devices (IUDs):
They are implantable devices that create unpleasant environment in the lining tissues of the uterus.
Side effects of IUDs depend on the type of IUDs used. They include:
· Puncture or Perforation of the uterus
· IUDs that contain hormones may cause headaches, acne, breast tenderness
· Copper- containing IUDs could worsen menstrual bleeding and cramps
Can you get pregnant whilst using any Birth Control Method?
There isn’t any kind of birth control method that is 100% effective so getting pregnant whilst using any of the birth control methods is very much possible and as well easy. However, many of the birth control methods if used as prescribed or correctly can prevent the risk of being pregnant even after sexual intercourse. The only method that is almost a 100% effective is the Oral Contraceptive Pill which is 99% effective when used correctly. One needs to have a basic knowledge and understanding of the birth control method, how they function and how to use them properly before putting them to use, that way it can only be effective.
Generally, birth control can either be permanent (irreversible) or temporary (reversible). The pros and cons of various birth control methods should be weighed alongside the ease of use, risk factors, effectiveness, financial costs and side effects of each method.