August 27, 2009

Methods of Contraception – Birth Control

Posted in Category : Sexual Health

Birth control is basically a term used to describe measures that stop a woman from getting pregnant. This is where contraceptives come into play. A contraceptive works by preventing the male sperm from fertilizing the female egg. Contraceptives fall into 2 broad categories, namely; the barrier method- this involves physically preventing the sperm from entering the uterus and fertilizing the female egg, and the second being the hormonal method- this alters the hormonal cycle in a woman in order to prevent fertilization.

Barrier contraceptive methods include the male condom. This method of contraception is the only one that men can use and is basically just a simple rubber tube worn over the penis. The female condom, in appearance, is very similar to the male condom, only slightly bigger and is to be inserted in the vagina. Spermicides too come under the barrier method as they contain a chemical agent which kills the sperm and also prevents it from entering the cervix. These come in various forms such as gels, foam and foaming tablets. This option however is not very effective in preventing a pregnancy when used on its own. The spermicide and male condom when used together can prove be an excellent combination, to prevent pregnancy as well as reduce the possibility of contracting STD’s

Contraception Hormonal

The hormonal methods of contraception can also be categorized into 2 slots, one being the injectable hormonal contraceptive and the other being the very commonly used contraceptive pill. The pill is an oral contraceptive that contains chemicals known as hormones. The combined pill is one type of pill that contains 2 hormones, estrogen and Progestogen. This pill stops the egg from being released every month, without stopping the periods. The other type of pill contains only 1 hormone, Progestogen. When this pill is taken the mucous lining in the vagina is altered to make it thicker. When this is done, the sperm is unable to get through and thus cannot fertilize the egg. Another type of pill, known as the emergency contraceptive pill can be taken up to 72 hours after having unprotected sex. However, this pill is meant for single use emergency situations and is not recommended on a regular basis. Again, oral contraceptives can prevent a woman from getting pregnant, but cannot provide protection from contracting STD’s. With the injectable hormonal contraceptive, the woman has to take an injection once in 12 weeks. This injection consists of the Progestogen hormone and thus works in the same way as the second pill (Progestogen only pill) discussed above.