Definition of Birth Control

The involvement of certain devices, drugs, or surgical procedures in males and females to prevent conception is known as Birth Control.

Birth control measures are taken by various devices and procedures that help in preventing conception. Among the several methods, only a few are reliable, and the effectiveness depends upon the usage of the methods and their reliability.

Birth Control Methods

Birth control techniques are opted for, when someone had an unexpected pregnancy or any other issue which makes them delay the pregnancy.

Some of the most used methods for birth control are as follows. 

  • Natural Birth Control: This method includes total and continuous abstinence and the rhythm method. This method follows no intercourse or protected intercourse when the fertility rate of women is high. Every woman has 9 days in a month where the fertility rate is high, and the chances of conceiving are also high. This period can be determined as 5 days before ovulation and continues for 3 days after ovulation.

  • Barrier Method: In this method, the barrier is placed between the male and female sex cells. This prevents the sperms from reaching the ovary which results in no fertilization. Both men and women can use this method to prevent fertilization leading to pregnancy. Products like a Contraceptive sponge, Diaphragm, Cervical shield, or Cervical cap are used by women in this method. Men use condoms as a barrier to prevent sperm from reaching the ovary.

  • Hormonal Method: In this method, the hormonal balance in a woman’s body is used to prevent fertilization. Contraceptive pills, estrogen, and progestin-releasing patches or vaginal rings are followed here.

  • Intrauterine Devices (IUD): These are small T-shaped devices that are planted in the uterus. There are two types of IUDs:

  1. Copper IUD– A small amount of copper is released in the uterus which prevents sperms from reaching the ovary.

  2. Hormonal IUD– Progestin is released into the body which prevents the formulation of egg.

  • Surgical Methods: Surgical operation is performed to prevent fertilization. In women, the process is known as Tubal Ligation and for men, it is called Vasectomy.

In tube ligation, A fallopian tube is cut or sealed to prevent the eggs from reaching the uterus. In Vasectomy, cutting and sealing of vas deferens is performed to prevent sperms from entering the ejaculation stream.

Devices for Birth Control

  • Male Condom: Condom is made of Polyurethane or Latex. This creates a barrier for the sperm and avoids it entering into the ovary. This is placed over the penis before sexual intercourse. This should be mainly used to avoid any Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs).

It is proven to be 82% effective and studies show that women get pregnant despite men using condoms.

  • Female Condom: This is also made of Polyurethane and is also called Femidom. It has a flexible ring at each end. One ring is used to place the condom in the right position and the other remains outside the body. This is not available widely like male condoms.

  • Sponge: A contraceptive sponge is placed in the female genitals and the depression present on the sponge enables it to hold in place over the cervix. Foam is placed in the genitals, which is a spermicide that cleans male sperm, and the sponge acts as a barrier to stop sperm from reaching the egg.

  • Diaphragm: A dome-shaped device which is of rubber material and that is inserted into the female genitals and is placed over the cervix. This fits into a woman’s pubic bone and has a firm but flexible ring which helps to press against the vaginal walls.

  • Cervical cap: A thimble-shaped, latex rubber barrier device that fits over the cervix and blocks sperm from entering the uterus. 

  • Injections: A contraceptive Injection, or “the shot” is a progestin-only, long-acting, reversible, birth control drug which is known as Depo-Povera or the Depo shot or DMPA. This is injected every 3 months by a doctor, and it prevents pregnancy by stopping the woman from releasing an egg.

  • Pharmaceutical devices: These are the pills that can be used to prevent pregnancy.

1. Contraceptive Pill: A pill is taken on a daily basis which contains two hormones, estrogen, and Progestin. These stop the release of egg or ovulation and also make the uterus lining thinner.

2. Contraceptive Patch: This is a transdermal patch applied to the skin which releases synthetic estrogen and progestin hormones. This patch is worn every week for 3 weeks continuously. It is placed on the lower abdomen or Buttocks. It is later removed for the menstrual period.

3. Vaginal Ring: This a flexible, plastic ring that releases a low dose of progestin and estrogen over 3 weeks. This prevents ovulation and thickens the cervical mucus which hinders the movement of sperm. This is inserted into the woman for 3 weeks and removed later for the menstrual period.

4. The Implant: It is a rod with a core of progestin, and it releases slowly. This is inserted under the skin of a woman’s upper arm.

5. Emergency “Morning-after” Contraception: These are pills which prevent pregnancy after intercourse as it prevents ovulation, fertilization, or implantation of an embryo.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Which Contraception Has the Least Side Effects?

Ans: Any form of contraception has its own side effects. Among the contraceptive methods available to avoid unplanned pregnancy, the Intrauterine Device (IUD) has the least noticeable side effects. Hence, this is highly used by women of all ages. This is a tiny device that is inserted into the uterus by a doctor and is meant as a long-term form of birth control that can be removed out at any time.

2. Does a Birth Control Pill Kill a Fertilized Egg?

Ans: The birth control pill prevents the pregnancy in three ways: (a) The pill thickens the cervical mucus to make a difficult pathway for the sperm to reach the egg; (b) This suppresses the ovulation by mimicking the pregnancy-level hormones in the body and prevents the release of eggs from the ovaries; (c) The pill makes the lining of uterus inhospitable for any fertilized egg reaching it.

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