An Overview of Birth Control Methods
Birth control or contraception comprises any method, device, or drug used to prevent pregnancy. There is a range of birth control methods that one can choose from. The type of birth control method that you use is determined by your health, your need to prevent sexually transmitted infections, and to have children now and in the future.
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What Are The Different Forms of Birth Control?
There are different types of birth control, with some being more effective than others. Before you choose a method, it’s important that you talk to your partner and consult with your healthcare provider. Remember, birth control methods are only effective if you use them properly. What are the options available to you?
Female and Male Sterilization
Tubal ligation (sterilization) for women and vasectomy for men are highly effective, permanent, and safe methods of contraception. There are no medical conditions that restrict your eligibility for sterilization, with the exception of hypersensitivity to the materials used for sterilization. It’s important to note sterilization doesn’t protect you from sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
- Tubal Sterilization: Otherwise known as tubal ligation is a permanent method of birth control. During this procedure, your fallopian tubes are either tied, blocked, or cut to avert pregnancy permanently. It doesn’t affect your menstrual cycle but inhibits eggs from moving from the ovary through the fallopian tubes and blocks sperms from moving up the fallopian tubes to the egg. Though this procedure can be performed at any time, in quite a number of instances, it’s done after childbirth or in combination with other surgeries such as the C-section. It’s important to note that this is a permanent procedure, and a reversal isn’t always possible.
- Vasectomy: This is a permanent method of male birth control that stops the supply of sperm to your semen. It’s conducted by cutting and sealing the tubes that transport sperm. This is a low-risk procedure that can be performed in an outpatient facility under local anesthesia. If you’re certain you don’t want to father a child in the future, vasectomy is a safe and effective birth control method for you. Although it’s possible to get a vasectomy reversal, you should consider it as a permanent form of male birth control.
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Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptives (LARC)
These are methods of birth control that provide effective contraception to women for extended durations without requiring user action. They include subdermal contraceptive implants, intrauterine devices (IUDs), and injections. They are the most effective yet reversible methods of contraception since their efficacy isn’t dependent on patient compliance.
a) Intrauterine Devices (IUDs)
These are small devices that are implanted into your uterus to interrupt the process of insemination. The copper and hormonal IUDs are the two major types available:
- Nonhormonal or Copper IUDs: These don’t use hormones, but instead, the copper damages the sperm hence preventing it from getting to the egg. It also induces an immune response that halts the development of healthy eggs and destroys eggs that develop.
- Hormonal IUDs: These produce progestin, a synthetic version of progesterone. Progestin thickens the cervix mucus, inhibiting sperm from reaching the egg.
They are an excellent birth control method for most women. However, they aren’t the best choice for women who are at a high risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). IUDs are suitable for women who can’t use contraceptives containing estrogen. However, they can’t be used by women with uterine distortions, pelvic infections, endometrial or cervical cancer, and vaginal bleeding
b) Contraceptive Implant
This is a hormonal birth control method in the form of a plastic rod that is inserted under your skin on your upper arm. It slowly releases etonogestrel, a progestin hormone into your body. It prevents pregnancy by inhibiting the release of eggs from the ovaries. It also prevents sperm from entering the uterus by thickening cervical mucus. It’s important to seek medical attention if you experience symptoms such as menstrual bleeding, breast pain, headaches, and nausea.
c) Contraceptive Injection
This is a contraceptive shot that either consists of the hormone progestin alone or progestin plus an estrogen. It stops your ovaries from releasing eggs and thickens cervical mucus. It’s administered as a monthly or three-month shot. However, once injected it’s not reversible.
Short-Acting Hormonal Methods
Short-acting hormonal methods need to be used regularly and correctly to be effective. They are considered less effective than long-acting contraception methods since it’s easy to forget to take pills to change rings or patches. These include;
- Combined oral contraception pill
- Progesterone only pill
- Contraceptive ring
- Contraception patch
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Barrier Contraception Methods
Barrier methods of contraception place a barrier between the man’s sperm and a woman’s egg. Some also protect against STIs. These include male and female condoms, diaphragms, sponge, and cervical caps.
It’s imperative that you remember that the best birth control method for you should be one that you are comfortable using, is safe, and that you can use it correctly and consistently. However, it’s also critical that you talk to our consultants for a professional evaluation. Make an appointment with us today.