Unfortunately, many young couples (and not only them) know almost nothing about contraception. Canadian Health and Care Mall decided to figure out what it is – modern methods of birth control.
So, what is contraception, how is it carried out and what kinds of birth control exist?
The word «contraception» has Latin roots, and in literal translation means «against conception». Nowadays, contraception is referred to undesirable at the moment pregnancy prevention; for this purpose, lots of various means and methods are used: mechanical and physical, chemical and some others. In addition, there is a division on «male» and «female» birth control.
Let’s talk about each of these contraception methods in details.
Interrupted Sexual Intercourse
The easiest but quite effective way to prevent conception – exclude sperm penetration into the vagina. It can be achieved in different ways, first by practicing so-called interrupted sexual intercourse, when ejaculation occurs after sexual intercourse or does not occur at all. However, this type of birth control is the most inefficient one of existing today, and it is recommended only in combination with any other method.
Barrier methods of contraception have the same action principle (preventing sperm contact with women genitals). The barrier means include:
- vaginal diaphragm;
- cervical cap;
- male condom;
- female condom.
The vaginal diaphragm is usually made of thin latex, and on the periphery, it has rubber ring, which function is to provide tightness to inside vagina walls. Diaphragm efficiency is about 18 pregnancies per 100 women using this method for one year.
The cervical cap is chosen so that it sticks tight to the cervix. It is very difficult to choose it without help, so it’s better to consult an experienced gynecologist on this question. This birth control method effectiveness is approximately equal to the diaphragm.
A female condom is usually made of polyurethane. Unlike male one, it has two hard rings required for tight fixation in the vagina.
A male condom is known to everybody. This is perhaps the primary means of contraception for casual relationships, young couples not planning to have children yet, but already thinking about conception. The condom is reliable enough: if it is properly stored and used, the birth control effect can be up to 97% (although, in practice, it is usually much less – on average 12 pregnancies per 100 women using this method).
Another birth control method usually used as an extra one is a local administration of medicaments having a toxic effect on sperm (spermicides). Spermicides are available as:
- foams, creams or gels;
- vaginal suppositories;
- pills and membranes;
- sponge – spongy substance soaked with, for example, nonoxynol.
As it already was mentioned, spermicides are much more effective when used in combination with condom or diaphragm.
Rhythmic contraception methods involve the accurate timing of ovulation periods and determination of the so-called «safe periods». It includes a calendar method, rectal (basal) temperature measuring and evaluation of cervical mucus viscosity. Let’s briefly consider calendar method essence: the egg is viable for about a day, sperm cell – for about 2 days. Ovulation occurs 14-16 days before the next menstrual cycle. So, subtract 18 days (16 days + 2 days of sperm viability) from the shortest cycle (their duration is necessary to evaluate not less than for 6 months). From the longest cycle subtract 13 days (14 days minus one day of egg viability). The first number signifies the beginning of the period (cycle day) when it is possible to get pregnant, and the second – its ending. During this period there is increased pregnancy risk at unprotected sexual intercourse. Despite the apparent simplicity, this method has its disadvantages: low reliability and long abstinence period.
Perhaps the most common means of birth control for women – oral hormonal medications or oral contraceptives (OCs). In fact, they are steroid hormones that cause protection against pregnancy by suppressing ovulation, cervical mucus changes (increasing its viscosity), egg inability to attach to the endometrium. Oral contraceptives may contain both estrogen and gestogens. Since we are talking about modern birth control methods, it should be noted that monocomponent preparations are now hardly used. Combined contraceptives contain both estrogens and gestogens (progestagens). There are monophasic preparations that contain equal doses of them, and there are two- and threephasic. They contain the necessary concentration of necessary hormones for each cycle phase.
Effective contraception can be achieved by hypodermic implantation of preparations containing hormones, gradually forming in the body. Nowadays biodegradable (destroying in the body) covers for hormonal preparations, implanted into the body, are being developed. Their destruction rate in the body is small and constant, and thus active substance for a long time penetrates into the bloodstream at equal doses.
Intrauterine Device (Coil)
It is pointless to advise married women already having children such birth control methods like condoms, vaginal suppositories or oral contraceptives, because they are expensive, and must be applied constantly and continuously. These women, of course, prefer intrauterine contraception.
It is believed that action mechanism of intrauterine contraceptives is not completely clarified yet. However, there are suggestions that IUD makes it impossible for sperm cells or ovum to move through fallopian tubes. This method of birth control is extremely reliable and efficient: on average only one out of 100 women per one year get pregnant in spite of IUD. But even this small «failure» percentage is usually caused by incorrect insertion or accidental removal of the contraceptive.
The most radical of all modern birth control methods is sterilization. This operation can be carried out at both men and women. It requires the following conditions:
- majority age;
- the absence of mental disorders;
- the absence of contraindications (pregnancy, inflammatory processes in the small pelvis, genital infections).
All methods have their right to exist, but they should be used wisely, together with gynecologist supervision, taking into consideration all indications and contraindications. Canadian Health and Care Mall offers a convenient service for birth control online. The most important criteria for selecting birth control type are reliability, safety, efficiency and applying possibility in the situation that is most suitable for this method. For example, in case frequent sex with multiple partners the most suitable is barrier contraception method – ordinary condom. Young married nulliparous women, who have only one sexual partner, oral contraceptives are recommended, middle-aged women, already having children – IUD.