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Although it is difficult most times to decide the best birth control for a couple, the best method is the one that fits with the couple’s goals, values, likes and dislikes, in addition to their daily lifestyles. This is because there is no single birth control method except abstinence that is 100% effective so a couple might consider options like; how would they couple up with unwanted pregnancy, their feelings and beliefs about being pregnant, abortion, adoption (Regina, 1991).
Therefore when looking for information about a given method, it is very important to know that effectiveness is listed in two different ways; “perfect use” and “typical use”. The first relates to a couple that uses the method correctly every time the couple has sexual intercourse and the latter is for an average couple who actually do not use the method every time or when they use it, it is used incorrectly.
However, in general all birth control methods are safe, but it is of utmost importance to be concerned about the major health risks for any man and woman trying to choose any method, as this will affect their ability to have children in the future and the associated multiple side effects. Therefore to protect a couple’s health;
- in whatever method you are interested in, read all patient information provided and understand it well
- Most of the information in the method may not be updated, it is therefore important to talk to a health care provider in order to get the most current information about the risks and benefits of the particular method, this includes even any information you have heard or read that worries you (St. Legislatures,1998).
A couple should also consider the cost of the method they choose. If they are expensive, coverage can be provided by insurance companies although most of them pay for surgical sterilization. Currently the following birth control methods are commonly used; Birth control pills (Depo proveda), male and female condoms, Abstinence, Tubal ligation, Vasectomy. IUD, Patch and Ring.
Even though some birth control methods do work better than others, the most effective way to prevent pregnancy is abstinence, however, it is not after sometimes of practicing abstinence when you find some couples become pregnant, this is because they normally have sex anyway without the use of protection after some time. It is therefore of fundamental for those who don’t plan to have sex to be informed about birth control, for they need to use birth control properly and every time to prevent pregnancy.
Of the above mentioned, Birth control pills, male and female condoms are the most commonly used birth control methods, Birth control methods has advantages like; decreased menstrual pain and bleeding, there is reduced risk of ovarian and uterine cancer, there is reduced acne, increased milk supply for breastfeeding women and lastly the use of this method leads to prevention of ovarian cysts; while in the use of both male and female condoms, they mainly prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
A birth control pill contains hormones that change the way the body works and prevents pregnancy. (Hormones are chemical substances that control the functioning of the body’s organs); in this case, the hormones in the pill control the ovaries and the uterus. Birth control pills are “combination pills” that is to say; they contain a combination of estrogen and progesterone hormones, and these are hormones that prevent ovulation, that is, the release of an egg during the monthly cycle.
This helps to prevent pregnancy because a woman cannot get pregnant because she will not ovulate (Torantola &Gruskin 1998). The pill also works by thickening the mucus around the cervix and this makes it difficult for sperm to enter the cervix to reach any eggs that may have been released. At times the hormones affect the lining of the uterus, making it difficult for an egg to attach to the wall of the uterus.
Most of these pills come in a combination of either 21 days or pack or a 28-day pack. For a 21 day and 28-day pack it means that you take the pill for 21 days and 28 days respectively and once you stop taking the pills ovulation will occur and you might get pregnant.
There is also another kind of pill that changes the number of monthly periods known as the mini-pill or the low-dose progesterone pill. It is different from the other pills because it only contains one hormone; progesterone, which works by changing the cervical mucus and the lining of the uterus although at times it affects ovulation, but it is slightly less effective at preventing pregnancy.
The Birth control pill does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases, and it therefore requires to be accompanied by condoms or abstinence the decision not to have sex. Although effective and safe birth control method, it has a few side effects like irregular menstrual bleeding, nausea, weight pain, headaches, dizziness and breast tenderness, mood changes; blood clots, but this rare for younger women below 35 years who do not smoke.
This method is used by women only.
Condoms are generally considered a barrier method of contraception. A male condom is made of a thin latex rubber sheath worn on the penis while a female condom is a polyurethane sheath that has a flexible ring on both ends. When using it, one end is closed and is inserted into the vagina, while the other ring sits outside the opening of the vagina, but a male condom is far more widely used and is sometimes known as “rubber” or “prophylactic”.
The main function of the condom is to prevent the semen, the fluid that contains sperm from entering the vagina. A male condom is placed on an erect guy’s penis, unrolled all the way to the base of the penis while holding the tip of the condom to leave some extra rubber; this helps to create space for semen after ejaculation and helps to prevent any breakage during the intercourse ( Torantola &Gruskin 1998). After ejaculation, he should hold the condom at the base of the penis and pull out of the vagina while still erect to prevent the condom from slipping off and therefore enable the sperm to enter the vagina.
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A female condom is inserted into the vagina using the closed-end ring while the other ring creates the open end of the condom. The sheath lines the walls of the vagina creating a barrier between the sperm and the cervix. It is important to note that male and female condoms cannot be used at the same time because they can get stuck together and cause the other to slip during intercourse, and thereby making it ineffective.
However most male condoms are made of latex, and those made of lambskin offer less protection against some STDs, and HIV, therefore the use of latex condoms is recommended or polyurethane for those allergic to latex (Torantola & Gruskin,1998). When properly used latex condoms are effective against most STDs. Although most men and women have no problems using these condoms they have a few side effects which occur occasionally; allergy to latex condoms, irritation of the penis or the vagina from spermicides or lubricants that condoms are treated with.
Regina, V. (1991). In the encyclopedia of health: The reproductive system.
ST. Legislatures (1998). In the article “Should Health Insurers Cover Contraception Costs”.
Torantola, D. and Gruskin S. (1998). Health and Human Rights.UNAIDS practice collection. Geneva.