HEALTH & WELLNESS
Top 5 Contraceptive Methods You Should Consider
Fortunately, there are plenty of birth control options available today. However, each has its benefits and drawbacks. Furthermore, many people seem to be unclear about how each form of contraceptive works and why that should matter to them.
To clear up the confusion, we’re going to break down the major types of contraceptives, their effectiveness and other things to consider when selecting your ideal birth control method.
Natural Birth Control
It is possible to plan pregnancy and avoid sexual infections by implementing a few simple strategies. All it requires is a little discipline.
Plan when you have sex around you or your partner’s ovulation cycle. Referred to as the Family Awareness Method (FAM), this strategy focuses on having sex only when the woman is not ovulating and immediately after an egg is released. Remember that an egg can survive anywhere between 12 to 24 hours so you should refrain from having sex several days before or after ovulating.
To use this method most effectively and safely, consult your physician to determine exactly when ovulation will occur.
The advantage of using this method is that it is inexpensive. Further, there’s no need to use any devices, creams or medication, and the fact that this method requires a great deal of communication between partners will only increase a relationship’s intimacy.
While this method can be useful, they can be notoriously unreliable. Just because you track when you normally ovulate and time when you have sex around that cycle, there is no guarantee that pregnancy will not occur.
Technically, it is possible to avoid insemination by withdrawing the penis before ejaculation – commonly referred to as pulling out. However, this doesn’t guarantee that sperm will not enter the woman’s uterus since semen can be emitted in pre-ejaculate.
One of the most common forms of birth control, hormonal birth control is divided into two types: hormonal shots and orally administered pills.
The former requires regular injections from a physician, which will alter the body’s hormones and prevent ovulation. Typically, a woman will have to get a shot about once every three months and it must be administered regularly.
While entirely safe, taking hormonal shots, like oral contraceptives, may come with a few side effects. Although the body will adjust, side effects include headaches, nausea, soreness in the breasts, changes in body hair and change in appetite.
Moving on, the oral pill, while it needs to be taken daily, is a much more manageable form of birth control. Furthermore, unlike the shot, pills can be taken without a physician’s assistance and refilled at a pharmacy.
In addition to pills and shots, other forms of hormonal birth control include the use of a patch which regularly releases estrogen and progestin to prevent pregnancy.
While all methods of hormonal birth control are highly effective at preventing pregnancy, they do not protect you from contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
If you suspect that the method of birth control you used didn’t work or if you forgot to take birth control, emergency contraceptives are an additional option you can use. It’s important to understand that emergency contraceptives are only effective within a few days of having sex. This is because this form of birth control shuts down ovulation to prevent pregnancy and refreshes the uterine lining, and doesn’t terminate a developing zygote.
Commonly called IUDs, intrauterine devices are small, t-shaped instruments which come in two varieties: hormonal and copper. The first prevents sperm from entering the uterus by releasing localized hormones in the reproductive system and thickens the uterine lining. The copper-based IUD, called ParaGard, releases copper ions which thickens uterine mucus and eviscerates sperm, thus preventing fertilization.
Either type of IUD does come with some side effects, such as some cramping and nausea, but are otherwise generally safe.
Using IUDs does require a specialist physician to insert and remove. However, once an IUD is inserted, there’s no need to worry about birth control for anywhere between three to six years if you have a hormonal IUD. If your IUD is copper-based, your IUD won’t need to be changed for twelve years.
This method of contraception is perhaps the most common and with good reason. Applying barriers such as a condom are highly effective at preventing pregnancy, don’t greatly interfere with sexual activity, and are easy to afford.
Unlike other forms of contraceptives, condoms not only prevent pregnancy, but is the best method to protect yourself from STIs. It is important to understand that latex condoms prevent both STI transmission and pregnancy when used correctly, while sheepskin condoms, for example, only prevent pregnancy.
Besides condoms, other types of barriers include spermicide, cervical caps and diaphragms, though they are only effective at preventing pregnancy.