Pregnancy refers to the gestation period of female mammals, during which one or more young, known as fetuses, are borne in the uterus. In the case of human beings, this period normally lasts for nine months and is typically divided into three trimester periods. Each of the periods refers to different stages of prenatal development. Pregnancy contraceptives are widely used to prevent or lessen the chances of getting pregnant. In medical terminology, contraception refers to an intended nullification of the likelihood of fertilization or childbirth.
Pregnancy contraceptives vary a good deal, both medically and culturally. Since sex has long been considered taboo in many parts of the world, various pregnancy-contraceptive methods have been the subject of much debate. The male condom is one of the most commonly used pregnancy contraceptives. The use of a condom as a means to prevent seminal fluid from entering the vagina is perceived as a barrier method. A male condom is actually a latex or polyurethane covering that is placed over the penis. There are also female condoms used as pregnancy contraceptives.
Hormonal contraception is another popular and trusted way as far as birth control methods are concerned. In case of hormonal contraceptions, the most extensively used methods consist of synthetic estrogens and progestins. The combination of both is popularly referred to as oral contraceptive pills, or just pills, a contraceptive vaginal ring, and the patch.
Surveys are conducted from time to time by the world’s leading healthcare organizations to find out the most popular and secure contraceptive choices. Several factors such as age, overall health, frequency of coitus, number of sexual partners, and most crucially, future plans with regards to conception, need to be considered before jumping to any conclusions about birth control methods.
Various Pregnancy Contraceptives
Male condom is perhaps the most popular birth control method in the world. Although an alarming lack of awareness about regular use of condoms is quite obvious in many third-world countries, campaigns are held from time to time to increase people’s general awareness.
Unless otherwise specified, condoms typically refer to male condoms. A male condom is actually a thin sheath made of polyurethane or latex that is put on the erect penis to prevent the seminal fluid from entering the vagina. Male condoms provide a physical obstacle between the penis and the vagina and thus prevent the sperm from coming into contact with the body of the sexual partner. The use of condoms as a contraceptive choice during sexual intercourse falls under the category of barrier methods.
Apart from preventing potential chances of pregnancy, male condoms also foreclose the possibilities of sexually transmitted diseases and infections, such as HIV, gonorrhea, syphilis, etc.
Generally packed in a foil wrapper, male condoms are devices that are inexpensive, extremely effective, easy to use, and normally free from side effects. Surveys have revealed that regular condom users experience a meager 2% annual pregnancy rate, which is remarkably lower than that resulting from unprotected acts of sexuality.
Birth Control Pill
A birth control pill typically refers to the Combined Oral Contraceptive Pill (COCP) or the Pill. In addition to this, there is also the progestogen only pill constituting of just progestogen.
The COCP belongs to the category of medications administered to the body by mouth.
The Combined Oral Contraceptive Pill is a compound drug containing an estrogen and a progestin. If medically prescribed, the intake of the COCP before sexual intercourse can prevent or reduce the chances of fertility. First sanctioned in the USA in 1960, the use of the birth control pill is still among the most popular contraceptive methods.
Birth control pills were reported to be used by over 151 million women based on data from 1247 surveys for 195 countries or areas of the word conducted by United Nations in 2019. The effectiveness of a birth control pill is undisputed when it comes to earning the trust of women worldwide.
Data from the 2017–2019 National Survey of Family Growth show that 14 percent of women (approximately 12 million) ages 15 to 49 were using oral contraceptive pills.
Spermicide condoms are a type of pregnancy contraceptive that is widely used in many countries around the world. Functionally, it terminates sperm that enter the vagina during intercourse and prevents the viability of the fetus. However, the efficiency of spermicides alone to prevent or reduce the likelihood of pregnancy is a contentious one. It’s been seen that couples resorting to this method usually experience a higher failure rate as compared to those who use combined contraceptive methods incorporating condoms, diaphragms, sponges, and cervical caps.
A spermicide belongs to the category of contraceptive barrier methods. Spermicides are typically clear, lubricative, non-staining, and unflavored.
Nonoxynol-9 is the most common active component found in spermicides. Spermicide condoms having this ingredient are sold as jelly (gel), foams, and films.
Menfegol, which is only available in Europe, is a widely used spermicide condom in the form of a foaming tablet. Earlier, it was Octoxynol-9 that was extensively in use around the world before failing to get the approval of the FDA.
Formerly, it was believed that nonoxynol-9 reduced the threat of HIV infection in humans. But despite repeated tests, no conclusive proof has been established thus far to prove the authentication behind such a claim.
In some cases, spermicide condoms are used in the manufacturing of condoms as well. According to consumer survey reports brought out by the leading health organizations in the world, condoms lubricated with spermicidal gel do not provide any extra security as far as the prevention of pregnancy is concerned. In fact, using such condoms may result in urinary tract infections in women. The World Health Organization is also against promoting lubricated condoms.
Spermicides do have a number of side effects, many of which can be harmful for the overall health. The commonest side effects include itching and irritation, yeast infection, urinary tract infection and other bacterial infections.
Birth Control Implant
The birth control implant (AKA Nexplanon) is a thin, flexible implant that is around the size of a matchstick and releases a continuous, low dose of progestin. It measures 1.6 inches in length (4 centimeters) and is approximately 1/8 inch in diameter. Your body absorbs the hormone from the implant, which keeps you from getting pregnant. It is placed under the skin of the inner, non-dominant upper arm, and after that, you are safeguarded from becoming pregnant for up to five years. This kind of birth control is disposable. It is done during an outpatient office visit. The typical insertion takes a few minutes and is performed under a local anesthetic. Most people didn’t have insertion pain.
The hormones in the birth control implant work in two ways to prevent pregnancy:
- Sperm cannot cross your cervix to reach your egg because progestin thickens the mucus there. Pregnancy cannot occur when sperm and an egg cannot connect.
- Progestin can also prevent ovulation, which prevents the release of eggs from your ovaries, leaving no eggs for fertilization. You are unable to become pregnant if eggs are not released.
The most typical Nexplanon side effect is a disturbance in your regular menstrual cycle. According to research, one in ten women who were using Nexplanon discontinued it due to an undesirable shift in their bleeding pattern. Other typical adverse effects that led women to cease using the implant include mood fluctuations, weight gain, headaches, acne, and low mood. These symptoms are in addition to alterations in monthly bleeding patterns.
Your doctor can remove your implant, though, if you decide you want to get pregnant or just no longer want it. Immediately following the removal of the implant, you might get pregnant.
Nexplanon does not offer STD protection. Fortunately, using an internal or external condom every time you have sex reduces your risk of contracting or transmitting STDs. Therefore, the best approach to avoiding infections with your implant is to use condoms.
The birth control ring, often known as the vaginal ring or the ring, is a simple, effective birth control device that may be used whenever necessary. A thin, flexible ring worn inside your vagina continuously releases hormones into your body to prevent conception. There are numerous additional health benefits to wearing the ring. Birth control rings come in two varieties: Annovera and NuvaRing.
A NuvaRing might last up to five weeks. Depending on the ring schedule you select, you replace your old NuvaRing in your vagina around once a month. If you wish to, you can safely miss your period using NuvaRing. Learn more about NuvaRing’s use here.
A single Annovera ring is good for a year (13 cycles). The Annovera ring is placed in the vagina for 21 days (3 weeks), removed for 7 days, and then put back in the case for the next week. Put Annovera back in your vagina after 7 days without a ring. Learn more about using Annovera.
The ring prevents sperm from fusing with an egg (which is called fertilization).
The ring includes estrogen and progestin, much like the majority of birth control tablets do. These resemble the hormones that our bodies normally produce. The hormones are absorbed into your body through your vaginal lining, while the ring is worn inside your vagina.
The ring’s hormones prevent ovulation. Pregnancy cannot occur if there is no ovulation, since there is no egg present for the sperm to fertilize.
The hormones in the ring also cause your cervix’s mucus to thicken. Similar to a sticky security guard, this thicker cervical mucus prevents sperm from swimming to an egg by blocking their movement.
Sterilization deals with a surgical method applied to put a check on the rapid birth rate. The procedure of sterilization is directly linked up with pregnancy and its contraceptive methods.
Sterilizing a male or female refers to an operation carried out by skilled medical practitioners. The sterilization method is prevalent in many countries worldwide, and is considered to be among the leading techniques with regards to pregnancy contraceptives.
While sterilization happens to be a surgical procedure intended to render a male or female impotent, there are non-surgical methods too, practiced illegally in many parts of the developing or underdeveloped nations around the globe.
Some of the more widespread sterilization methods include tubal ligation, vasectomy, castration, and hysterectomy. Glean the details of each of these processes:
Tubal ligation: This process of sterility involves the removing or resizing of the Fallopian tubes. The Fallopian tubes actually let the sperm impregnate the ovum and carry the fertilized ovum to the uterus. The operation demands a great deal of expertise.
Vasectomy: In this sterilization method, the vasa deferens, which links up the testicles and the prostate, is truncated and closed. It is an extremely scientific way of leaving a male infertile since sperm are prevented from entering the seminal vesicles and prostrate. In medical terminology, this method is referred to as a deferentectomy.
Castration: Castration refers to the complete removal of the testicles from the male body. This procedure is primarily applied to animals rather than human beings. Special characteristics such as significantly reduced sexual need, rapid weight gain, physical flexibility, etc., are also attributed at the time of castration.
Hysterectomy: A hysterectomy is a female surgery that permanently removes the uterus. It might be complete (in the case of removing the fungus, body, and cervix), or it might as well be customized. This method is regarded as one of the most assured means of sterilization simply because the removal of the uterus leaves a woman unable to conceive for the rest of her life.
Female condoms serve as an effective measure to prevent unintended pregnancy. They are physical materials put on internally by the receptive partner during sexual intercourse. A female condom impedes the ejaculated semen from getting into the body of the receptor.
If compared to male condoms, female condoms have been introduced more recently and are yet to gain popularity. They also prevent the transmission of diseases and infections such as HIV, syphilis, and gonorrhea.
The first version of the female condom was made from a substance known as polyurethane. This version is formally known as the “FC Female Condom.” Relatively newer and more effective female condoms are made of nitrile polymer, or FC2. This version does not generate the rustling sound that reportedly turns off the users of the earlier FC Female Condom. The FC2 Female Condom® (Internal Condom) is a female-initiated birth control offering dual protection against STIs and unwanted pregnancy.
Female condoms are more expensive than their male counterparts. This brand is currently manufactured by the Female Health Company in the United States of America. Other brand names for this version include Ormelle Female Condoms, So Sexy Female Condoms, Uniq Lady Female Condoms, VA W.O.W Female Condoms, Pasante.
Natural latex, which is a crucial component in male condoms, is also used in the latest version of female condoms. This version does not make the crinkling sounds during sexual intercourse.
Depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA) or Depo-Provera happens to be one of the trusted pregnancy contraceptives in use. Containing only progestogen, this hormonal birth control pill is used in the form of quarterly injection.
The Depo-Provera Contraceptive Injection is actually the brand name for the 150 mg water suspension of medroxyprogesterone acetate applied to the intramuscular parts every 3 months. Depo-Provera is manufactured by Pfizer.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States of America approved Depo-Provera on December 17, 2004 as an oral contraceptive pill.
The mechanism of Depo-Provera and other progestogen-only contraceptives is based on the dose and activity of the progestogen. The high-dose ones like DMPA impede follicular development and prevent ovulation. The progestogen reduces the pulse frequency of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) secreted from the hypothalamus. Consequently, the secretion of luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) is also inhibited. This is the primary mechanism performed by Depo-Provera.
The secondary function is to prevent sperm penetration by initiating alterations in the cervical mucus.
The failure rate for Depo-Provera users is pretty minimal in the United States, with the average being a paltry 0.3%.
Depo-Provera has some distinctive benefits that set it apart from other contraceptive pills.
It is proven that this method can prevent pregnancy without posing any threat of major health hazards.
With estrogen not being a factor, the potential risk of pulmonary embolism (PE), deep vein thrombosis (DVT), or stroke is almost negligible.
Once you ensure proper follow-up medical inspections every 2 weeks, you won’t require further medical assistance.
The injection procedure makes sure that the receptor is undetected. It helps her avoid unnecessary social attention and harassment.
Threats of primary ovulation pain, dysmenorrhea, and functional ovarian cysts are cut short considerably.
IUD, or Intrauterine Device, refers to the most extensively used pregnancy contraceptives worldwide. This device is physically put inside the uterus to control childbirth. Approximately 159 million women worldwide resort to IUDs when it comes to pregnancy issues. This integrated method has outperformed sterilization mechanisms in China alone.
Using an IUD requires skilled medical assistance since the device has to be placed or removed by a specialist doctor only. It remains inside the uterus for the entire period when pregnancy is unsolicited. Typically, an IUD can perform the task for 5 to 10 years, depending on its quality.
Intrauterine contraceptive devices can be classified into two broad divisions: hormonal devices and copper-based devices. The hormonal devices function by releasing progesterone.
Two types of IUDs are found in the US market – the hormonal Mirena and the copper Paragard. Seven kinds of IUDs are available in the United Kingdom, where the term “IUD” only refers to copper-based devices.
Hormonal devices are regarded as part of a different contraceptive method over there and are termed the Intra-Uterine System, or IUS.
The non-hormonal IUDs generally look like a plastic T-shaped frame twined with pure electrolyte copper wirings. IUDs such as the Nova T 380 are fitted with a silver nub incorporated into the copper wiring. There are two arms spread opposite each other, supporting the IUD near the top of the uterus.
IUDs have gained tremendous popularity across the globe for their sound mechanism. The failure rate is remarkably low if compared to other forms of contraceptive measures.
The physical presence of this device in the uterus accentuates the release of prostaglandins and leukocytes. Both of these materials are uncongenial to eggs and sperm.
It should be noted, however, that IUDs do not provide any protection against sexually transmitted diseases or pelvic inflammatory disease.
Abstinence refers to a deliberate withdrawal from seeking or indulging in corporeal pleasures. It encompasses a total abstinence from sexual consummation, food, or alcohol. The practice of abstinence is a kind of self-denial for the sake of practical considerations or religious inhibitions.
Abstinence has many dimensions, ranging from fasting to choosing a life of renunciation. Since the process requires a conscious practice that is intentionally taken up to explore the spiritual dimensions of life, abstinence must not be confused with repression.
Sigmund Freud, the forefather of psychoanalysis, used the term “sublimation” with regards to the channeling of sexual desires and energies into other more socially as well as culturally acceptable activities.
Most religions in the world promulgate ascetic aspects of living. Abstinence might have its root there. It might also arise from a personal need for spiritual discipline. Traces of abstinence practices can be found both in Islamic and Christian religious rites.
Sexual abstinence refers to making rigorous efforts to abstain from both the outward expressions of sexual desire and the inward longing for the same. Premarital sex, for instance, is condemned in many religions. Many traditional Catholics value chastity and refrain from any kind of premarital sexual relationship.
Which Birth Control is Right for Me?
If you’re thinking about using birth control, it’s important to choose the right method that works for you. Here are some things to consider:
- Are you planning to get pregnant in the next year?
- How often do you have sex?
- Do you have more than one sexual partner?
- Do you want a method that allows you to start and stop whenever you want?
- How effective is the birth control method?
- Can you remember to take a pill every day?
- Would you prefer to have fewer periods or have your period every month?
- Have you had any side effects from birth control in the past?
- Do you have high blood pressure, smoke, or are you over the age of 35?
Answering these questions can help you figure out which birth control method might be best for you. You can also talk to your healthcare provider to learn more about your options and get advice on what might work best for your situation.
What are the Side Effects of Birth Control?
Birth control can have both positive and negative side effects on the body. The specific side effects depend on the type of birth control used and the individual’s body.
Hormonal Birth Control
Hormonal methods of birth control, such as the pill, patch, or ring, contain synthetic hormones that prevent pregnancy by stopping ovulation. The possible side effects of hormonal birth control can include:
- Weight gain
- Mood changes
- Breast tenderness
- Irregular bleeding or spotting
- Decreased libido
- Increased risk of blood clots and stroke, especially in women who smoke or have other risk factors
Barrier methods of birth control, such as condoms or diaphragms, physically block sperm from reaching the egg. The possible side effects of barrier methods can include:
- Allergic reactions to latex or other materials used in the method
- Reduced sensation during sex
- Increased risk of urinary tract infections in women who use diaphragms
Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptives (LARC)
LARC methods of birth control, such as intrauterine devices (IUDs) or implants, provide long-lasting contraception without requiring daily or weekly attention. The possible side effects of LARC methods can include:
- Pain or discomfort during insertion or removal of the device
- Irregular bleeding or spotting, especially during the first few months after insertion
- Expulsion of the device
- Increased risk of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) in the first few weeks after insertion, especially for women who have multiple sexual partners
Permanent methods of birth control, such as tubal ligation or vasectomy, permanently prevent pregnancy by blocking or severing the fallopian tubes or vas deferens. The possible side effects of permanent contraception can include:
- Pain or discomfort after the procedure
- In rare cases, failure of the procedure, leading to unintended pregnancy
In conclusion, there are a variety of pregnancy contraceptives available to individuals who wish to prevent pregnancy. From traditional methods like condoms and birth control pills to newer options like IUDs and hormonal implants, there are numerous options to choose from depending on personal preferences, medical history, and lifestyle factors. It is important to discuss contraceptive options with a healthcare provider to determine which method is best suited for each individual’s needs. By utilizing effective contraception, individuals can take control of their reproductive health and prevent unintended pregnancies.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Are The Different Types Of Contraceptives?
There are several types of contraceptives available such as hormonal contraceptives, barrier methods, intrauterine devices (IUDs), sterilization, and emergency contraceptives. Hormonal contraceptives include birth control pills, patches, injections, and vaginal rings. Barrier methods include condoms, diaphragms, and cervical caps.
How Effective Are Contraceptives?
The effectiveness of contraceptives varies depending on the method used. Hormonal contraceptives are highly effective when used correctly and consistently, with a failure rate of less than 1%. Barrier methods like condoms have a failure rate of 12% with typical use, but when used correctly and consistently, they can be highly effective. Intrauterine devices (IUDs) and sterilization are the most effective methods of contraception with a failure rate of less than 1%.
Are There Any Side Effects Of Using Contraceptives?
Some contraceptives can cause side effects like headaches, nausea, breast tenderness, irregular bleeding, and mood changes. Hormonal contraceptives may increase the risk of blood clots and some types of cancer. However, the risk is low and depends on the individual’s medical history.
Can Contraceptives Protect Against Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)?
Barrier methods like condoms are effective in preventing the transmission of STIs, including HIV. Hormonal contraceptives do not offer protection against STIs.
Do I Need A Prescription To Get Contraceptives?
Some types of contraceptives like condoms are available over-the-counter without a prescription. However, most hormonal contraceptives like birth control pills require a prescription from a healthcare provider. IUDs and sterilization procedures require a visit to a healthcare provider and are not available over-the-counter.