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Contraceptive Methods
26 Sep. 2014

familyplanWe live in a time when medicine and technology works wonders. Every year, new devices, technologies, and drugs are being invented to enhance virtually all aspects of our lives. However, in the honor of the World Contraception Day (September 26), we should acknowledge and perhaps even learn why this practice is so important to society and humanity as a whole.

Contraception, or birth control as it’s also called, refers to the practice of preventing unwanted pregnancies. For a number of reasons, contraceptives have been in great demand throughout history, and are as important as ever today. However, the contraceptives around today are significantly different from the rudimentary and sometimes barbaric ones used centuries ago. There are numerous contraceptive options available nowadays, and this article will highlight their pros and cons.

In the western world, the most popular type of birth control is barrier contraceptives. While there are many items that may act as a barrier during sex, preventing direct contact between partners, the only ones used to prevent pregnancy are condoms. The condom is an age-old device, usually made out of latex, whose function is to trap sperm and prevent it from entering the womb. Though condoms are traditionally used by men, female condoms also exist today. These models have the same principle of use but are inserted into the vagina rather than attached to a penis. pillsIf used correctly, condoms have an efficiency rate of up to 98%. The risk of pregnancy still exists, however, due to the risk of a condom breaking, slipping off, or being defective.

The second most popular type of birth control used today is the hormonal contraceptive. Hormonal contraceptives include vaginal rings, patches, injections, implants, but are most commonly taken in the form of pills. Regardless of their form, female hormonal contraceptives are made to inhibit ovulation and fertilization. If a woman chooses hormonal pills, she has two types to choose from: progestin-only pills and combined oral contraception pills. The former contains synthetic forms of progestin, lacks estrogen, and is associated with a decreased risk of blood clotting, while the latter contains estrogen and is sometimes more harmful to the body.

IUD’s or intrauterine devices are another highly-popular type of contraceptive. These are devices that are inserted into the uterus, preventing sperm from entering the fallopian tubes and thereby stopping fertilization. Their success rate is above 99%.

Another form of contraception that should be mentioned is sterilization. In men, this refers to a surgical procedure called a vasectomy, and the equivalent for women is known as tubal ligation.These methods also have a very small (>1%) fail rate.

Though much less efficient than the practices mentioned previously, behavioral methods, abstinence, fertility awareness methods, and the withdrawal method are also practiced by a portion of society.

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