Contraception, or the use of contraceptives, is a practice that aims at controlling the chances of getting pregnant with the use of hormonal or mechanical barriers. It is, simply put, prevention of unwanted and unplanned pregnancy.
Using contraception is not a new concept. Pregnancy and the birthing process takes its toll on women. Using contraceptives is a way of gaining control over this biological function of pregnancy, while still enjoying a healthy sexual relationship with one’s partner.
Why use contraceptives?
- Contraceptives give couples the time to plan for a pregnancy.
- It gives freedom of choice to women.
- Children can disrupt the lives of their parents when they are not planned. Using contraceptives makes sure that the couple’s lives are not derailed due to a pregnancy.
Popular Methods Of Contraception
Barrier methods: These are designed to stop the entry of sperm into the woman and consequently, prevent fertilisation. The male condoms are the most popular barrier methods. The male condom is usually made out of latex (or lambskin, for people with latex allergies) and is stretched over the penis, covering it snugly. When ejaculation occurs, the condom captures the sperm.
They also serve the added function of preventing the transmission of some sexually transmissible infections (STIs).
Another barrier method is the female diaphragm, which is a soft silicone cone that fits over the entrance to the uterus and prevents the sperm cells from entering.
Hormonal methods: Hormonal methods of contraception manipulate the major female reproductive hormones (oestrogen and progesterone) to prevent fertilisation, change the environment of the uterus to be unfavourable to the growth and implantation of an egg, and prevent menstrual cycles and ovulation. These include different types of pills, injection, hormonal intrauterine device (IUD) and implants. They are up to 85-97% effective in preventing pregnancy, but they cannot prevent STIs.
Permanent methods: These are surgical procedures that can prevent pregnancy altogether, with a success rate of up to 100%.
For women, tubal ligation is cutting and tying of the tubes. They can also get a tubal occlusion, which is an insertion of a coil into each of the fallopian tubes.
Men can get a vasectomy, in which the tubes that carry sperm are cut and tied off, preventing the delivery of sperm cells during intercourse.
Natural methods: These depend on a careful monitoring of the woman’s menstrual cycle to determine on which days she’s fertile and at risk of falling pregnant, and avoiding sexual activity on those days. Temperature changes, vaginal fluid consistency and even weight can be used as markers. Couples that choose this method can also combine it with another like the barrier method. Natural contraception is not a very reliable method to use.
Before choosing a method of contraception, it is important to consult a GP or Obstetrician/Gynaecologist who can help you choose the method that would be best for you. The method chosen will depend on your health, the possible side-effects, your budget and lifestyle. Some methods like the pill require daily dedication, while others only have to be renewed every few years. All these have to be considered before choosing one.
Be armed with all the information you need before making a choice of contraception.
You can make an appointment with Dr Kenny on 07 3188 5000.
This article is written to be informative and does not substitute seeking a professional consultation from a medical professional.