Contraception is prevention of pregnancy by any method.
How Pregnancy Occurs
Each month, approximately 2 weeks after a woman bleeds (menstrual period), the ovary releases an egg (called ovulation). The egg travels to the fallopian tube, which connects to the uterus. If sex occurs near the time of ovulation and the man ejaculates (climaxes), sperm are released into the vagina. Sperm travel through the opening of the uterus (cervix) into the uterus and then into fallopian tubes. If a sperm fertilizes the egg, pregnancy occurs.
How Pregnancy Can Be Prevented
Pregnancy can be prevented in three ways: stop ovulation, stop sperm from getting to eggs in the fallopian tube, and change the uterine lining (endometrium) so it won’t support pregnancy.
Birth control pills, the most common method, contain hormones similar to ovarian hormones and stop ovulation. Pills plus smoking, high blood pressure, obesity, or family history of clotting disorders may lead to increased chance of stroke, heart attack, or blood clots.
Implants are capsules containing a certain hormone that are surgically placed under the skin on the arm.
A contraceptive containing only the hormone progesterone is injected every 3 months and stops ovulation.
Condoms, diaphragms, and cervical caps are barriers that stop sperm from getting to the egg. All should be used with a spermicide (chemical that kills sperm).
A condom is a thin rubber or animal membrane covering that is put on the penis. A rubber, dome-shaped diaphragm is put in the vagina over the cervix. A cervical cap (small rubber cap) fits right on the cervix. It works like the diaphragm but is smaller.
Intrauterine Devices (IUDs)
IUDs are small devices inserted into the uterus by a doctor. They change the uterus or fallopian tube so pregnancy cannot occur. The Copper T is a small T-shaped plastic IUD with wrapping of copper. Another IUD produces progesterone.
Permanent Surgical Methods
The two methods are tubal ligation (tying the tubes) in a woman and vasectomy in a man. A tubal ligation is done by special (laparoscopic) surgery. Very small cuts are made and fallopian tubes are sealed or closed. In vasectomy, which is minor surgery, tubes called vas deferens in the scrotum are tied off.
Abstinence (Rhythm) Method
Not having sex around the time of ovulation prevents pregnancy. This method works only if the woman has regular cycles. It is not recommended for young women whose cycles are still changing.
How Do You Choose a Contraception?
Some couples may use more than one form of birth control. Things to think about when choosing a method include how each is used, age, health, frequency of sex, and partner’s feelings about methods.
On Deciding About Contraception:
1. Think about protection from sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) when choosing a method. Certain methods prevent both pregnancy and STDs.
2. Try a new method if you don’t like your current one.
3. Talk with your partner to figure out the best method.
4. Talk with your doctor about the benefits and risks of your chosen methods.
5. Don’t assume that your partner is taking care of it.