World Contraception Day: Understanding Birth Control Options

October 4, 2020
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As the world mark 2020 contraception day, the use of contraceptive methods continued to grow by the day. In this report, HENRY TYOHEMBA takes a look at some of the modern birth control options.

Contraception methods have come a long way since the first birth control pill was invented almost 61 years ago. Today, the pill is available in multiple formulations, along with numerous other types of contraception that can be implanted, injected or otherwise.

World Contraception Day which is observed on September 26 every year is a day meant to raise awareness about the several contraceptive methods available and enable young people to make informed choices on their sexual and reproductive health.

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Today, there are multiple methods of contraception like barrier methods, hormonal methods, sterilisation, awareness methods and the morning after pill to name a few. On the occasion of World Contraception Day, we are going to talk about the several birth control options available and how you can make the right choice for yourself.

The following birth control options help by preventing sperm from reaching the egg, inactivating or damaging the sperm, preventing an egg from being released each month, altering the lining of uterus so that the fertilised egg does not get attached to it, and thickening the cervical mucous so that sperm does not easily pass through it.

Injections

First introduced in 1990, this injectable form of progesterone is given by a physician. A single injection is effective for three months and is likely more effective than oral contraceptives since the woman doesn’t have to take a pill or do anything else other than stay current on injections.

Implants

Implantable progesterone is effective for three years. The implant is slightly larger than a quarter and is implanted by a physician, usually on the underside of the upper arm. It has about the same effectiveness and side effects as an injectable contraception.

Skin patches

Skin patches release hormones through the skin. Women can place the small patches themselves almost anywhere on their body; the patch and location are changed weekly. After three weeks, women skip a week to have their menstrual period. The patch can be worn during exercise and swimming.

Vaginal ring

This small, flexible ring contains estrogen and is inserted by the patient into the vagina, where the hormones are slowly absorbed through the vaginal walls. After 21 days, the ring is removed for a week to allow menstruation. A new ring is then inserted.

Intrauterine devices (IUD)

Available with and without hormones, the IUD is inserted into the vagina and is highly effective. Progesterone-containing IUDs constantly release a low level of hormone and tend to result in lighter menstrual periods. Hormone-free IUDs are made of copper and create a sterile inflammation of the uterine lining, which may cause heavier periods.

Hormone-free contraceptives

In addition to the non-hormonal IUD described above, there are other methods of hormone-free contraception.

Condoms

Condoms not only help prevent pregnancy, they can also help prevent sexually transmitted diseases. However, their effectiveness depends greatly on the user; they must be used correctly and consistently, and they can break or fall off. Unlike the other methods, condoms do not affect a woman’s fertility.

Natural birth control

Women whose menstrual periods are very regular may know when they are most likely to get pregnant and avoid sex during that time. “Now there’s an app for that,” says Dr. Dunn. “I encourage my patients to track their periods using any one of a number of smartphone apps. Some actually notify patients when they’re at the peak of their fertility

Barrier methods: Female and male condoms come under this category. They also include cervical cap, diaphragm and contraceptive sponge.

Sterlisation: This is the permanent method of birth control. Vasectomy for men and tubal ligation for women are permanent birth control options.

These birth control options are effective only if you use them consistently and effectively. IUDs, sterilsation and contraceptive implants require no effort on your part. They definitely have lower pregnancy rates. Emergency contraceptives, awareness methods and barrier methods are said to have higher pregnancy rates.

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