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Birth Control

Birth control, also known as contraception, is designed to prevent pregnancy. Decide when to start using birth control and choose a method that will work best for you. Birth control methods may work in several different ways. Planning, provision, and use of birth control are called family planning. Birth control methods have been used since ancient times, but only effective and safe birth control methods became available in the 20th century.

What is the need for Birth Control or Contraception?

To have sex or not is a personal decision that entirely depends upon an individual's choice. Sex is healthy and enjoyable while it is also associated with many risks. Protection needs to be used whenever you are sexually active to prevent pregnancy and the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Sex is the toughest decision in teens' lives because if they decide to have sex, they must also be ready to take the adverse effects.

Contraception not only prevents unwanted pregnancy but also protects from severe STDs.

What should you know about contraception?

You should be aware of the following:

  • Options of the contraception available
  • Which method may be best suitable for you
  • Is your partner involved with this method
  • Where do I need to go to get the method
  • What is the cost of the method
  • How to use condoms
  • How to use a combination of contraception methods to avoid pregnancy as well as STDs

The birth control methods work by:

  • Preventing sperm from getting to the eggs (condoms and IUDs)
  • Preventing the woman's ovaries from releasing eggs that could be fertilized (Birth control pills)
  • Sterilization (vasectomy or tubectomy) - prevents the male from being able to pregnant a woman or prevent a woman from getting pregnant

Methods of Birth Control:

There are many methods of birth control that a woman can use. A talk with the doctor will help you to decide which method of contraception can be best for you:

1. Hormonal methods of contraception

        A. Birth control pill or oral contraceptive: Also called "the pill," it contains estrogen and progestin hormones and is available in different hormone dosages. These are the hormones that cause inhibition of your body's natural hormones to prevent pregnancy in a few days. Hormonal contraceptives work by stopping the body from ovulating. They also make the cervical mucus thick, making it difficult for the sperm to enter the vagina. Contraceptive pills also prevent you from conceiving by changing the uterus lining, so it is unlikely the fertilized egg will be implanted. Common birth control is Yasmin, Yaz, Ovral G, Loette, Femilon, and Dronis.

How does it work?

It contains progestin and estrogen hormones and stops the ovary from releasing an egg. A pill is taken once a day, and it comes in 28 days pack. It works by changing the uterus lining and making it difficult for the egg to attach to the uterus wall. It also thickens the cervical mucus and makes it difficult for the sperm to travel up to the uterus.

Advantages

  • 92–99% effective
  • It can be taken by healthy, non-smoking women of any age
  • Regulates periods
  • Allows for unplanned sex

Disadvantages

  • No protection from STIs, including HIV
  • Smokers over the age of 35 years and those with high BP can't take it
  • Some side effects like headaches, breast tenderness, bleeding between periods.

     B. Transdermal patch

How does it work?

A patch is 4 cm square of polyester containing the female hormones estrogen and progestin. It stops ovulation and thickens the cervical mucus.

Advantages

92–99.7%effective

  • Shorter and less painful menstrual periods
  • Can wear the same patch for seven days in a row
  • Swallowing not there hence avoids stomach problems

Disadvantages

  • No protection against STIs, including HIV
  • Little chances of a pass being loose and falling off
  • Possibilities of skin infection

     C. Contraceptive ring

How does it work?

It is inserted into the vagina and releases female hormones estrogen and progestin. It stops ovulation and makes it difficult for the egg to attach to the uterus wall.

Advantages

  • 92-99% effective
  • Fewer side effects
  • Allows unplanned sex
  • No need to remove before or after intercourse

Disadvantages

  • No protection against STIs, including HIV
  • May slip out

     D. Injection

It contains only the female hormone progestin that prevents ovulation. It must be administered every 12 weeks.

Advantages

  • Each injection last 12weeks
  • Only you are aware of it, and nobody else does
  • Reversible

Disadvantages

  • No protection against STIs, including HIV
  • Side effects like headaches, weight changes, menstrual pain etc.

2. Barrier methods of contraception

        A. Condoms: They are called barrier methods of birth against HIV and other   STDs. This method is 100% effective because it puts a barrier on pregnancy and STDs by preventing the sperm from reaching the ova to fertilize it. Male condoms are inexpensive and easy to get without a prescription. Female condoms cost more than male condoms and can be difficult to use properly. Female condoms cost more than male condoms and can be difficult to use properly. Condoms can only be used once.

        B. Diaphragm: Also called cervical caps block the sperms from entering the cervix and reaching the egg. Before sexual intercourse, use them with Spermicides.

        C. Sponge: It is made out of polyurethane foam and contains the spermicide nonoxynol-9. They are very good barriers and can be used for more than one act in 24 hours.

        D. Spermicides: They are the chemicals that kill sperm or make the sperm unable to move towards the egg. They are available in different forms and are 71-82% effective.

        E. IUD: It is a small plastic T-shaped device placed inside the uterus by a doctor. It contains progesterone hormone; it prevents ovulation and thickens the mucus, preventing sperm from entering the egg. It is a 98% effective technique. It can remain inserted for one year.

        F. Other methods: Other methods like abstinence or avoiding sex, sterilization, and withdrawal can also prevent pregnancy and STDs. The sterilization method is 99% effective, while withdrawal is not a safe birth control option.

How to take birth control pills?

You have three ways to get on the first cycle of contraceptives:

First-day start - Take the first tablet during the first 24 hours of your menstrual cycle. Pregnancy protection kicks in immediately, so you don’t need a backup contraceptive method.

Sunday start - Wait until the first Sunday after your menses begins to take your first pill. This option is another contraceptive measure for only seven days of the first cycle.  

Today start - Begin taking the pill today. If you have had unprotected sex since your last period, take a pregnancy test before you begin the oral contraceptive. If your pregnancy test is negative, start the pill today. Use another contraceptive method such as condoms or spermicide for the first seven days of the first cycle of use.

Are birth control pills safe?

The birth control pills are safe for most women; they take them without problems. Oral contraceptives have been around for over 50 years, and millions of women have used them safely. But all medicines have some risks and side effects. Your health care specialist will help you figure out if the pill is safe for you.

When to take birth control pills?

It is always best to take the birth control pill simultaneously every day. You can take them anytime during the day, but taking them before breakfast or dinner will make them easier to remember. Ask your health care specialist when you should start taking the oral contraceptive. If your cycle is still on, the day you have been told to start your pill pack, start n any way. You will get your next period about 25 days after starting the pill pack.   

How effective are birth control pills?

Birth control pills are a type of oral contraception that is 99% effective at preventing pregnancy; when taken correctly means taking them without missing even a day or two. Oral contraception contains hormones that regulate menstruation, lower the risk of ovarian and uterine cancers, treat endometriosis, and improve eth appearance of acne.

Can I use regular birth control pills as emergency contraception?

Certain birth control brands can be used as regular pills. However, the option is less effective and may cause side effects than dedicated emergency contraception pills. Emergency contraception pills are packaged and labelled for use as emergency contraception. It is always best to consult your health care specialist if you wish to use your regular birth control pills as emergency contraception.

Do birth control pills cause infertility?

The answer is no. Studies found that long-term use of oral contraceptives did not affect their ability to have children in the future. Research studies have also shown. There is no impact on future infertility with another form of hormonal contraceptives. Whether you choose an intrauterine device (IUD), vaginal ring, or birth control pills, these methods should not affect your ability to conceive later in life. Still, consulting a doctor is best to opt for the pills option.

When do you get your period on birth control pills?

Generally, most women get their periods three days after finishing the pill pack. If you use a 28-pill pack, you will get your period during the week you take the reminder (hormone-free) tablets if you use a 21-day pill pack. If using a 21-day pack, you will get your menstrual cycle start the week you do not take any tablets. Note that the 21-day pack of birth control pills has no reminder pills. In this case, you can use a reminder on the phone or a calendar to help you stay on track.

How many birth control pills to take to prevent pregnancy?

Different birth control pills that work differently in preventing pregnancy are available. So how many birth control pills to take usually depends on your brand. For example, I-pill, an emergency contraceptive pill, combines three medicines specially made to prevent pregnancy. Other birth control pills come in a pack of 21 or 28 that must be taken regularly without missing any pills. Consult your doctor to find the best option for yourself.

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