Contraception is the deliberate prevention of conception or impregnation by any of various drugs, techniques, or devices; birth control. Therefore, contraceptives are the various drugs, techniques, or devices which are used to prevent pregnancy.
Aims of contraception
Every month a woman’s body begins the process that can potentially lead to pregnancy. An egg (ovum) matures, the mucus that is secreted by the cervix (a cylindrical-shaped organ at the lower end of the uterus) changes to be more inviting to sperm, and the lining of the uterus grows in preparation for receiving a fertilized egg. Any woman who wants to prevent pregnancy must use a reliable form of birth control. Birth control (contraception) is designed to interfere with the normal process and prevent the pregnancy that could result. There are different kinds of birth control that act at different points in the process, from ovulation through fertilization to implantation. Each method has its own side effects and risks. A woman can get pregnant if a man’s sperm reaches one of her eggs (ova). Contraception tries to stop this happening by:
- keeping the egg and sperm apart
- stopping egg production
- stopping the combined sperm and egg (fertilised egg) attaching to the lining of the womb
All forms of birth control have one feature in common. They are only effective if used faithfully. Birth control pills work only if taken every day; the diaphragm is effective only if used during every episode of sexual intercourse. The same is true for condoms and the cervical cap. Some methods are automatically working every day, no matter what. These methods include Depo Provera, Norplant, the IUD, and tubal sterilization.
There are many different ways to use birth control. They can be divided into several groups:
- By mouth (oral): Birth control pills must be taken by mouth every day.
- Injected: Depo Provera is a hormonal medication that is given by injection every three months.
- Implanted: Norplant is a long-acting hormonal form of birth control that is implanted under the skin of the upper arm.
- Vaginal: Spermicides and barrier methods work in the vagina.
- Intra-uterine: The IUD is inserted into the uterus.
- Surgical: Tubal sterilization is a form of surgery. A doctor must perform the procedure in a hospital or surgical clinic. Many women need general anesthesia.
The methods of birth control differ from each other regarding when they are used. Some methods of birth control must be used specifically at the time of sexual intercourse (condoms, diaphragm, cervical cap, spermicides). All other methods of birth control must be working all the time to provide protection (hormonal methods, IUDs, tubal sterilization).
Some methods of contraception are more reliable than others. Although there are many different types of birth control, they can be divided into a few groups based on how they work. These groups include:
- Hormonal methods: These use medications (hormones) to prevent ovulation. Hormonal methods include birth control pills ( oral contraceptives ), Depo Provera injections, and Norplant.
- Barrier methods: These methods work by preventing the sperm from getting to and fertilizing the egg. Barrier methods include male condom and female condom, diaphragm, and cervical cap. The condom is the only form of birth control that also protects against sexually transmitted diseases, including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS).
- Spermicides: These medications kill sperm on contact. Most spermicides contain nonoxynyl-9. Spermicides come in many different forms such as jelly, foam, tablets, and even a transparent film. All are placed in the vagina. Spermicides work best when they are used at the same time as a barrier method.
- Intrauterine devices (IUDs): These devices are inserted into the uterus, where they stay from one to ten years. An IUD prevents the fertilized egg from implanting in the lining of the uterus and may have other effects as well.
- Tubal ligation: This medical procedure is a permanent form of contraception for women. Each fallopian tube is either tied or burned closed. The sperm cannot reach the egg, and the egg cannot travel to the uterus.
- Vasectomy: This medical procedure is the male form of sterilization and should be considered permanent. In vasectomy, the vas defrens, the tiny tubes that carry the sperm into the semen, are cut and tied off.
Unfortunately, there is no perfect form of birth control. Only abstinence (not having sexual intercourse) protects against unwanted pregnancy with 100 percent reliability. The failure rates or the rate at which pregnancy occurs, for most forms of birth control, are quite low. However, some forms of birth control are more difficult or inconvenient to use than others. In actual practice, the birth control methods that are more difficult or inconvenient have much higher failure rates, because they are not used faithfully.
Methods of artificial contraception
Here are the different methods of artificial contraception:
- combined pill
- condoms (female)
- condoms (male)
- contraceptive implant
- contraceptive injection
- contraceptive patch
- intrauterine device (IUD)
- intrauterine system (IUS)
- natural family planning
- progestogen-only pill
- vaginal ring
These are 2 permanent methods of contraception:
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