Contraception not only covers aspects of safe sex and prevents incidence of sexually transmitted diseases but majorly plays a role in controlling unintended pregnancies thus furthering family planning decisions.
By Dr Mukesh Gupta,
It is estimated that 15·6 million abortions occurred in India in 2015 which is a major cause of concern for women’s health. Contraception or birth control is important for all sexually active individuals so that informed decisions and choices can be made about their sexual and reproductive health. Contraception not only covers aspects of safe sex and prevents incidence of sexually transmitted diseases but majorly plays a role in controlling unintended pregnancies thus furthering family planning decisions.
Today on World Contraception Day, let’s throw light on various available birth control methods that can prove effective in planned parenthood and can help you find the best method that is suitable for you and your partner.
Intrauterine devices also known as IUDs are a safe and effective method of preventing unintended pregnancies. The widely known and used IUD is the multiload or Copper T, a small device with a fine copper wire wrapped around a plastic frame. It’s placed inside the uterus to prevent unplanned pregnancies. Copper acts as a spermicide thus preventing the sperm from reaching and fertilizing eggs.
IUDs are a reliable, long-term contraceptive that does not affect fertility once removed. It is hassle-free and involves a one-time cost only. It is a simple OPD procedure, wherein your doctor is required to insert the IUD while it can also be removed smoothly before planning a pregnancy. The best part is it is hormone-free and can last up to 5 to 10 years. Copper T is a good spacing method for family planning and is more than 99.9% effective.
The hormone containing IUD – IUHD is also an option for contraception, especially in women who suffer from heavy bleeding or dysmenorrhea/ painful menses.
A contraceptive implant is a medical device that is placed under the skin in the upper arm where in the hormone progesterone is released into your bloodstream in a timely manner to hinder ovulation. It also thickens the cervical mucus, which makes it difficult for the sperm to move through the cervix.
It can be inserted and removed using a local anaesthetic and feels like you are taking an injection. It is a simple procedure that only takes a few minutes. It is a safe and reliable method of contraception that can last for around 3 years once implanted.
Condoms are an age-old method of contraception, which forms a barrier between the male and female reproductive organs and thus prevents sperm from entering the vagina. This reduces chances of fertilization and conception does not occur.
Male and female condoms are easily available over the counter and are very cost-effective, however one should note that chances of pregnancy are reduced but it is not a 100 percent fool proof method. There are no side effects and can also protect against sexually transmitted diseases. Other barrier methods include diaphragm, cervical cap, spermicidal foam and sponges.
A very popular method of birth control is the contraceptive pill or the combined pill which functions by making it difficult for the sperm to penetrate the female reproductive system. It also thins the lining of the uterus thus reducing the chances of implantation of the foetus.
Common contraceptive pills may contain female hormones, estrogen or/and progesterone, that must be taken for a duration of 21 days or as advised by your doctor, following which withdrawal bleeding occurs. They could have side-effects such as nausea, bloating, mood swings, headaches, breast tenderness. It is important to note that the pill must be taken every day without skipping to ensure its effectiveness.
Depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA) injection is a reversible contraceptive method which suppresses ovulation, thickens cervical mucus or causes thinning of the lining of the uterus. It can be administered as an intramuscular or a subcutaneous shot. It is a hormonal medication of the progesterone family that forms a long-lasting depot, which is slowly released over a period of several months.
While it is a simple injection, it must be noted that it must be taken every twelve weeks to prevent pregnancy. IUDs and implants are more convenient as compared to the contraceptive injection.
The choice of birth control is every individual right however it is important to consult your healthcare practitioner as factors such as an individual’s health status, duration of contraception and options that best suit your body comes into play. This will ensure effective family planning that is safe, convenient and cost effective.
(The author is an Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Le Nest Hospital, Malad, Mumbai. The article is for informational purposes only. Please consult medical experts and health professionals before starting any therapy, medication and/or remedy. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the Financial Express Online.)