Pregnancy and parenthood are indeed the best phases of a couple’s lives but only when they are ready for it. Unwanted pregnancies can be disheartening especially if the couple had to abort the baby. Killing a foetus is a crime and abortion should always be prevented. Contraception or birth control methods are meant to prevent unwanted pregnancies. This is best as a couple can plan pregnancy when they are completely ready for it. In this section, you would get all the information related to contraception, different contraception methods, their risks, pros & cons and related articles. Scroll down for more information.

What is Contraception?

Contraception is a process that aims to prevent pregnancy by preventing egg fertilization. As you may know, a woman gets pregnant when her egg and male sperm fertilize together. The fertilized egg then grows into a baby. Contraception is taken to prevent conception or preventing the woman from conceiving the fertilized egg. Contraception can either stop the formation or the egg or prevent the egg from meeting the sperm or preventing fertilization of the egg. There are various methods of contraception depending upon the need for birth control, procedure, effectiveness and longevity. One can select from various options that are reliable. If you are looking for long-term contraception, it is best to consult your doctor before choosing any. Know the pros, cons and usage guidelines to not face any issue in the future.

Reversible Methods of Birth Control

Here are some reversible methods of contraception that can be withdrawn at any time when you wish to conceive.

Intrauterine Contraception

In this method, an IUD device or intrauterine device is inserted into the uterus of the woman to prevent pregnancy. There are two types of Intrauterine Contraception:

Levonorgestrel intrauterine system (LNG IUD)- In this method, a T-shaped contraception device is inserted into the uterus. The LNG IUD has progestin that gets released in order to prevent conception. This device can be implanted for 3 to 6 years as per the desire of the couple.

Copper T intrauterine device (IUD)- This is a popular method in India. This is also placed inside the woman’s uterus and can be implanted for as long as 10 years.

Hormonal Methods

Implant- This is a thin rod that is implanted inside the upper arm of the female. This rod contains progestin which is slowly released in the body every day. This implant can last for 3 years with less failure rate.

Injection or Shot- In this method, the woman receives a progestin hormone injection to prevent pregnancy. This hormone shot needs to be given every three months until the time the woman is ready for pregnancy.

Oral contraception- These are popular hormone pills. These contain a combination of progestin and estrogen hormones. This pill needs to be taken every day. However, one should take these combined oral contraceptives only after consulting a doctor as some women may experience health risks after their intake.

Progestin-only pill- This is also an oral contraceptive pill that only has progestin hormone, unlike combined oral contraceptive pill. Many women cannot take estrogen orally and so, doctors prescribe them. There are chances that this pill may fail and so, it is not considered a reliable birth control method considering the side effects associated with it.

Birth control patch- These are topical patches that are worn on the skin. Most commonly, these are placed on buttocks, hands, back and lower abdomen. These patches have both estrogen and progestin hormones that are released into the blood slowly. There is a pattern that needs to be followed with these birth control patches. You are supposed to wear a new patch once a week continuously for three weeks and then go without wearing one for the next week. If you don’t go one week without the patch, you won’t get your periods. One needs to be very vigilant when using this patch.

Hormonal contraceptive ring- This is another contraception method that is meant to be placed inside the vagina. It slowly releases estrogen and progestin hormone. This ring is also needed to be worn for three weeks and then remove for the next one week to get your periods. The following week, wear a fresh ring and then follow the pattern.

Barrier Methods

These are contraceptive methods to barricade fertilization by preventing the sperm from entering the body of the woman.

  • Diaphragm- This is also known as a cervical cap that is placed inside the vagina to block sperm from entering the vagina by blocking the cervix. Diaphragm is shallow cup-shaped whereas the cervical cup has a thimble shape. These need to be inserted into the vagina before sexual intercourse. This is inserted along with spermicide to kill sperm. This method doesn’t guarantee full protection. Also, it comes in different sizes and one must but the right size that fits perfectly.
  • Contraceptive Sponge- This sponge also contains sperm-killing compound and requires to be placed inside the vagina covering the cervix. The capacity of this sponge is 24 hours. You can insert it hours before the intimate session but it needs to be inserted for at least 6 hours after the session. The failure rate for this sponge is higher in the barrier methods category.
  • Male condom- This is a protection that men wear which prevents the sperm from entering the partner’s body. Apart from inhibiting sperm entry, a condom is also effective in preventing sexually-transmitted diseases including HIV. There are different types of condoms but all of them can only be worn once.
  • Female condom- These aren’t as common as male condoms but these are also effective in preventing the sperm. Unlike male condoms that should be worn right before intercourse, female condoms can be inserted 6-8 hours before the session. These also prevent STDs.
  • Spermicides- These are tablets, creams, gels, foams, etc. that are meant to kill sperm. These are inserted in the vagina max one hour before the session and must be kept for at least 6 to 8 hours for optimal protection. These can be used along with other barrier methods.

Lactational Amenorrhea Method

This method is particularly for breastfeeding mothers who have recently become mothers. However, not all mothers can use the LAM method. There are three conditions that need to be fulfilled:

  • The mother shouldn’t be getting periods after delivery
  • Using this method within six months after delivery
  • Fully breastfeeding the baby

This is a temporary birth control method and the woman needs to consider other birth control methods if any of these conditions are not fulfilled.

Emergency Contraception

This is for women who had unprotected sex but don’t want to get pregnant. This is an emergency method that should be performed within 72 hours of sexual intercourse. Also, this should be considered if you aren’t following any other contraception method. The most common emergency contraception is an emergency pill. Some pills are meant to be taken within several hours of unprotected sex while some work for 5 days. Ask your doctor or chemist for the right pill.

Permanent Methods of Birth Control

If a couple no longer wants to become parents ever, permanent contraceptive methods are used.

Female Sterilization

This is also called tubal ligation where the fallopian tubes of a woman are so closely tied that fertilization cannot take place. This is a surgical procedure that should be performed by an experienced doctor. This procedure is meant to inhibit the meeting of egg and sperm to avoid fertilization.

Male Sterilization

The other term for this is Vasectomy which is a surgical procedure that is done to prevent the release of sperm from the male reproductive organ. The ejaculation doesn’t have sperm in it and so, sperm won’t enter the vagina to cause fertilization. This procedure is also performed by an experienced doctor. It may take 3-4 months to bring the sperm count to bring to zero. Until then, other birth control methods must be used to prevent pregnancy.