The plethora of birth control options available can help couples plan or delay pregnancies. However, each has its own pros and cons, and few of them entail taking help from a doctor like inserting the diaphragm, tying of the fallopian tubes and IUD.
What is it that makes some couples yearn for the pitter patter of little feet, while others are not so keen on starting a family? It may be that career becomes a priority or a couple is constantly having to shift base and this type of relocation without supportive in-laws or help from other sources could be a deterrent. Whatever may be the reason here are a few contraceptive options:
Also called natural family planning, abstinence means avoiding sex when the woman is most fertile. The most reliable way to do this is to look for changes in cervical mucus and body temperature. It’s best to get training from a health care professional. No drugs or devices are used, and the technique is inexpensive. However, couples have to limit spontaneous sex and 25% of typical users get pregnant.
Spermicide jelly contains a chemical that kills sperm. It is placed inside the vagina before sex. Frequent use can cause tissue irritation, increasing the risk of infections and STDs. It is mostly used along with other birth control methods.
The latex condom is the classic barrier method which prevents sperm from entering the woman’s body, protecting against pregnancy and most STDs. It cannot be reused.
The female condom is a thin plastic pouch that can be put in the vagina up to 8 hours before sex. It is somewhat less effective than the male condom.
The diaphragm is a rubber dome that is placed over the cervix before sex. It is used with a spermicide jelly usually. 16% of average users get pregnant, including those who don’t use the device correctly every time. It is inexpensive but can only be inserted by a doctor.
A cervical cap is similar to a diaphragm, but smaller. The FemCap slips into place over the cervix, blocking entry into the uterus. It is used with spermicide. The failure rate for the cervical cap is 15% -30%.
Birth Control Sponge
The birth control sponge is made of foam. It contains spermicide and is placed against the cervix up to 24 hours before sex. The sponge is nearly as effective as the cervical cap, with a failure rate of 16% for women who have never had children and 32% for those who have. But unlike the diaphragm or cervical cap, it can be inserted by the woman and no fitting by a doctor is required. It requires no prescription and has immediate effects. However, it does not protect against STDs and canot be used during periods.
Birth Control Pill
The most common type of birth control pill uses a combination of the hormones estrogen and progestin to prevent ovulation. When taken on schedule, the pill is highly effective. Chance of pregnancy is only 8%, including those who miss doses. Like all hormonal contraceptives, the pill requires a prescription. These can cause disurbance in menstrual cycle and cramps in abdomen, and there is no protection against STDs.
Birth Control Patch
Women who have trouble remembering a daily pill may want to consider the birth control patch. It is worn on the skin and changed only once a week for three weeks with a fourth week that is patch-free. The patch releases the same hormones as the birth control pill and is equally effective. It may cause skin irritation or other side effects similar to birth control pills and doesn’t protect against STDs.
The ring releases the same hormones as the pill and patch and is just as effective. But it only needs to be replaced once a month. Users have lighter, more regular periods. It needs to be replaced only once per month.
Birth Control Shot
The birth control shot is a hormonal injection that protects against pregnancy for 3 months. And it has a failure rate of only 3%. It may cause spotting and other side effects and doesn’t protect against STDs.
Birth Control Implant
The birth control implant (Nexplanon) is a matchstick-sized rod that is placed under the skin of the upper arm. It releases the same hormone that's in the birth control shot, but the implant protects against pregnancy for 3 years. The failure rate is less than 1%.
IUD stands for intrauterine device, a T-shaped piece of plastic that is placed inside the uterus by a doctor. It works for as long as 10 years. Mirena, a hormonal IUD, must be replaced after 5 years and can lighten periods and ease cramps. They make it more difficult for sperm to fertilize the egg. Fewer than eight in 1,000 women get pregnant with the use of IUDs but there are chances of slippingout and may cause side effects.
This is a permanent birth control method. The traditional method for women is called tubal ligation or "having your tubes tied." A surgeon closes off the fallopian tubes by cutting, tying or sealing them, preventing eggs from making their journey out of the ovaries.
Over the years, these contraceptive methods have greatly improved to bring comfort and relief to families who are not ready for a child.