The Birth Control Methods
Birth control refers to different methods of preventing pregnancy. This involves using medicine, devices, surgery, and incorporating certain sexual practices. Birth control gives couples the freedom to decide when they want to conceive. There are a variety of birth control methods to choose from.
They include condoms, pills, IUDs, and permanent methods like tubal ligations and vasectomies. Certain methods of birth control tend to be more reliable than others. How well each method works will depend on the type and how one’s using it.
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Types of Birth Control
Birth control methods are either temporary or permanent. These are broadly classified into:
- Diaphragms: The diaphragm resembles a shallow cup. It is inserted into the vagina with spermicide before sex. It works by killing or blocking sperm. Diaphragms come in different sizes and you need to see a doctor for proper fitting.
- Condoms: These can be either male or female condoms. Latex condoms are the most common. When used correctly, condoms not only prevent pregnancy but can protect you from STDs like HIV.
- Cervical Caps: Cervical caps are thimble-shaped cups. They work like diaphragms by killing or blocking sperm.
- Spermicides: Spermicides come in different forms. These include gels, foam, film, cream, tablet, or suppository. They work by killing sperm to prevent fertilization. They are placed inside the vagina about an hour before sex. After intercourse, they should be left in place for about six to eight hours.
Hormonal Birth Control Methods
- Birth Control Pills: There are two types of birth control pills. These include the combination pill and the progestin-only pill. The combination pill is the most common and contains both estrogen and progestin. Progestin-only pills contain only the hormone progestin. Both pills are taken at the same time every day.
- Hormonal Patches: This is a skin patch worn on the upper body, buttocks, or lower abdomen. The patch releases estrogen and progestin into the body. A new patch should be used every week for three weeks but not the fourth week to allow for menstrual periods.
- Implants: The implant is a thin rod inserted under the skin on the upper arm. The rod releases progestin into the bloodstream and lasts 3 to 5 years.
- Vaginal Ring: This ring is placed inside the vagina to release estrogen and progestin. Like a patch, the ring should be worn for three weeks.
- Birth Control Injections: This is a shot of progestin that a woman gets every three months.
Natural Birth Control Methods
- Ovulation Test Kits: During ovulation, your basal body temperature increases. Ovulation test kits will show this. During that time, you can either abstain from sex or use barrier birth control methods.
- Cervical Mucus Examination: Tracking the consistency of cervical mucus helps track ovulation.
- Tracking Menstrual Cycles: If you have a regular cycle, you have seven to nine days when you’ll be at your most fertile. During this period, abstain from sex if you don’t want to get pregnant. You can also use birth control methods like condoms.
- Tubal Ligation: This is where the fallopian tubes are tied or closed. This ensures that the sperm and egg never meet. Tubal ligation starts working immediately.
- Vasectomy: Vasectomy is a surgical procedure performed on men. Unlike tubal ligation, a vasectomy doesn’t work immediately. The patient should make appointments with their doctor for the next twelve weeks. This is to ensure that the sperm count drops to zero.
Other Birth Control Options
- Intrauterine Devices: This can be either a levonorgestrel intrauterine system (LNG IUD) or a Copper T intrauterine device (IUD). The device is placed inside the uterus and can last for up to 10 years.
- Emergency Contraception Pills: These are pills taken when you’ve already had sex. It can be taken as long as five days after sex. It is, however, more effective when taken within the first 72 hours.
Common Side Effects of Birth Control
The side effects of a birth control method will depend on the type of birth control used.
Hormonal Birth Control Side Effects
- Nausea, headaches, weight gain, vomiting, acne, and skin discoloration
- Spotting or bleeding between periods and changes in menstrual flow
- Mood swings, breast tenderness, and swelling
- Serious complications like strokes, blood clots, and heart attacks can occur sometimes.
Barrier Method Birth Control Side Effects
- Increased urinary tract infection risk when using spermicides, cervical cap, or diaphragm
- Toxic shock syndrome risk if a cervical cap or diaphragm is left in the body for more than 24 hours
- Allergic reactions to chemicals used in spermicide products
Side Effects of Intrauterine Devices
- Worsening of menstrual cramps or menstrual bleeding in some cases
- Uterine perforation or puncture if the device isn’t fitted well
- The hormones in the IUD may also cause headaches, acne, breast tenderness, and nausea
- Can you still get pregnant when on birth control? Unfortunately, there is no birth control method that is 100% effective. Most birth control methods should prevent pregnancy when used correctly.
- After how long does it take for birth control to start working? Some birth control methods work immediately, like condoms, diaphragms, and tubal ligation. Others, like hormonal birth control, depend on where you are in your monthly cycle.
- Do hormonal birth control methods cause infertility? Pills, implants, or patches only affect your fertility when using them.
Healthier Me Today is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment, always consult with your healthcare professional. Stay healthy!