Contraception, also known as birth control, refers to the medications, devices, or surgical methods that enable individuals to engage in sexual activity while preventing pregnancy. Some forms of contraception, but not all, can also stop the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
Before engaging in sexual activity with your partner, it is crucial to discuss contraception so you can pick a method suitable for you both. You and your spouse are mutually responsible for contraception because it impacts both of you. Our doctor can help you make this decision by explaining the advantages and efficacy of each type of contraception.
What are the different types of contraception?
There are numerous types of birth control, and each one functions differently:
- Female condom. A thin plastic pouch that is placed in the vagina and can be inserted up to eight hours before sexual activity to stop sperm from entering the uterus. Female condoms can prevent the mingling of bodily fluids during sexual intercourse.
- Contraceptive sponge. This method involves inserting a little sponge into the vagina to cover the cervix (the opening of the uterus). The sponge also contains spermicide to kill sperm. The sponge can last up to 24 hours while in use, and it needs to be left in the vagina for at least 6 hours after intercourse before being taken out and thrown away.
- Spermicide. Spermicide is a material that can kill sperm cells and is available as a film, foam, gel, cream, or suppository. It is inserted into the vagina close to the uterus no later than an hour before having sex. Spermicide can be used on its own or in combination with a cervical cap or diaphragm.
- Diaphragm and cervical cap. In this method, the cervix is covered with a cervical cap or a diaphragm to prevent sperm from entering the uterus. You may inject the device with spermicide to kill sperm before sexual contact. Diaphragms and cervical caps come in various sizes, so it is crucial to consult your doctor to determine which one is ideal for you.
- Oral contraceptives are pills that women take everyday to avoid getting pregnant. Oral contraceptives that contain both estrogen and progestin are referred to as the pill or combined oral contraceptives. The tablet contains a mix of hormones that prevents the ovaries from monthly egg release. Additionally, they change the mucous near the uterus opening, which makes it more difficult for sperm to pass through. Another medication women take daily to avoid becoming pregnant is the progestogen-only pill, also known as the mini-pill, which only has the progestin hormone.
- Contraceptive patch. For this method to work efficiently, you should apply a new patch on your skin once per week for three weeks. You do not need to wear the patch throughout the fourth week, during which you will have your period.
- Vaginal ring. The vaginal ring is a thin, flexible ring placed inside the vagina to release hormones. The ring should be worn for three weeks, removed the week before your period, and replaced with a new one.
Long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs):
- Intrauterine device (IUD). In this method, the doctor inserts a tiny, T-shaped device into the uterus to prevent pregnancy. Depending on the IUD used, copper or hormonal IUD, it can remain in place for 3 to 10 years.
- Tubal ligation. This procedure prevents pregnancy by closing the fallopian tubes and preventing the union of sperm and eggs for fertilization.
Other methods for preventing pregnancy:
- Methods based on awareness of fertility. This method entails keeping tabs on your menstrual cycle and abstaining from intercourse or employing barrier techniques on the days when she is most likely to become pregnant. Compared to other methods, this one can have higher pregnancy rates.
What is an emergency contraceptive method?
Normal birth control methods do not include emergency contraception. However, if a condom breaks or after unprotected sexual activity, it can be used to prevent pregnancy. A woman uses emergency contraception after having sex to lower her risk of becoming pregnant.
There are two emergency contraceptive methods:
- An emergency contraceptive pill (ECP), also known as the “morning-after pill”, is a hormonal pill that prevents ovulation and should be taken as soon as possible following unprotected sexual activity. Women may use emergency contraceptives for up to five days following unprotected sex, but the earlier the tablets are taken, the more effective they will be.
- Copper IUD. Within five days of unprotected sex, a copper IUD can be implanted as an additional emergency contraceptive method. A copper IUD can decrease the likelihood of a fertilized egg implanting in the uterus by affecting sperm motility, which lowers the likelihood of fertilization. Additionally, the IUD can offer long-term contraception.
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If you want to learn more about the available contraception methods, make an appointment today by calling toll-free 8006686 or clicking the live chat icon at the bottom of the screen.