By Dr. Meenakshi Varma, Gynaecology
Contraception (also called birth control) can help you prevent pregnancy until you are ready to bring a baby into your life. Picking a contraceptive method that fits your life is extremely important. Some types of birth control can also protect you and your partner from sexually transmitted diseases.
There are a number of birth control methods and each type has its own pros and cons. You need to ask yourself a few questions before choosing a contraceptive method.
1. Do you want to have children someday? If yes, how soon?
2. Do you have any health conditions?
3. How frequently do you have sex?
4. How many sex partners do you have?
5. Does the birth control method that you have chosen protect you against HIV and STD?
6. What is the longevity of the birth control method?
7. Are there any side effects?
After you’re done figuring out the answers to these questions, you can decide which birth control method is apt for you.
Here are some of the most common methods of birth control:
An IUD is a small, T- shaped piece of plastic containing copper or a hormone called levonorgestrel, which is put inside a woman’s uterus. There are 2 kinds of IUD – Copper IUD and Hormonal IUD.
An IUD is very effective in preventing pregnancy. When you decide to finally get pregnant, it can be easily removed by a doctor.
This method prevents a woman’s ovaries from releasing an egg each month. Hormonal methods include:
Hormonal IUD – can last up to 5 years
Implant – can last for 3 years
Shot – given by a doctor every 3 months
Patch – Worn on skin and replaced each month
Ring – Put in the vagina and replaced each month
And, birth control pills that can be taken every day
This method works by preventing the sperm and the egg from coming in contact with each other. The various devices used to this include male condoms, female condoms, and cervical caps. Male condoms are also effective in preventing HIV and reducing the risk of STDs.
Natural Family Planning
This method works by learning when a woman is likely to get pregnant. It is an option for women who have regular periods. It is not an effective method for preventing pregnancies.
It may so happen that people may miss out their birth control method or it may fail. In such cases, there are 2 options for emergency contraception:
Copper IUD – a doctor puts this inside a woman’s uterus within 5 days of unprotected sex
Emergency Contraception Pills – This needs to be taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex
However, none of these methods can stop a pregnancy that has already taken place.
This is a permanent and irreversible method of birth control for people who don’t want to have children anymore.
In men, it can be done by cutting or blocking the tubes that carry sperm to the outside of penis. This is called a vasectomy.
In women, it can be done by cutting or blocking the tubes that carry eggs from the uterus. This is called tubal sterilization.