Contraception, is a well-known form of birth control, it is a measure taken in order to prevent unwanted pregnancies, temporarily or permanently.The ideal and most used contraceptives are widely acceptable, inexpensive, simple to use, safe, highly effective and require minimal maintenance or supervision.
Birth control is not purely a woman’s responsibility; men too have means to prevent pregnancies.
When it comes to birth control, women usually stick to the pill or the partner uses a condom during intercourse; there are however alternatives to prevent pregnancies. Dr Sushma Tomar, Consultant Obstetrics and Gynecology, Fortis Hospital Kalyan, breaks down the types of contraceptives available for both, men and women.
Temporary barrier methods
- Condoms made of latex or polyurethane are the most widely used contraceptives that help prevent pregnancies and sexually transmit diseases.
- Condoms are easily available in drug stores and are even found in public restrooms. They are cheap and have no side effects.
- They are also easy to carry, simple to use and dispose-off. They are effective in avoidance of any cross infection between the partners.
- Condoms are only meant to be used once, after sexual intercourse, they must be disposed.
- The disadvantages are that they might tear or slip off during contact or inadequate sexual pleasure may be achieved; there is a 4 per cent failure rate.
Females can opt for:
- Diaphragm, an intra-vaginal device, which is dome shaped cup made of silicone. It is introduced into the cervix and acts as a barrier for up to 3 hours before and is to be kept at least 6 hours after last contact.
- The disadvantages include onset of allergic reactions and possible transmission of sexually transmitted diseases.
- These require prior pelvic examination by a doctor to determine the size and fitting, which changes after childbirth.
Beyond Birth Control Pills prevent pregnancies in 95 per cent of cases and come close to providing 99 per cent protection if you take one pill every day as prescribed by your physician.
However, these do not provide any protection against Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI’s) and are to be consumed only by prescription.
- Skin patches (small, thin, adhesive patches) release a steady stream of estrogen and progesterone into your system, these hormones help in preventing pregnancy. These patches are easy to use and are usually required to be replaced every week.
- Vaginal rings (a flexible, lightweight device that is inserted into the vagina). These contain estrogen and progestin which retain the eggs in the ovaries and thicken the cervical mucus to preventing sperms from entering the uterus.
- Hormone patches cause estrogen and progesterone to be releases through the skin to prevent pregnancy. They are safe, inexpensive and easy to use.
- It is recommended to use a single patch a week for up to 3 weeks and the fourth/ last week is concluded without using a patch.
- During the fourth week, your menstrual cycle begins.
- The patch can be worn on the buttocks, lower abdomen or your upper arm.
Long term barrier methods:
- Intrauterine Device (IUD) which is prescribed and inserted by doctors, are of two types – hormonal or copper-based.
- These can remain inside the vagina for up to five or ten years respectively, they however do not provide any protection against Sexually Transmitted Infections.
- Sterilisation is an option for both men and women; for males the technique is called vasectomy and consists in tying off and cutting the tubes that carry sperm.
- Your physician will offer you a choice between surgical and non-surgical types of sterilisation.
The author is an obstetrician and gynaecologist at Fortis Hospital, Kalyan