Contraception or Birth Control is a method for preventing pregnancy. The only foolproof method to prevent pregnancy is abstinence, that is, not have sex. If one is sexually active, then adopting birth control methods is the best way to avoid pregnancy.
However, each of these methods has its own set of pros and cons. The important factors that help in determining the most suitable birth control method include one’s lifestyle, personal preferences, health status, and more.
Birth control methods are of the following six types:
- Hormonal methods: These include birth control pills, shots, skin patch, vaginal rings, and implants.
- Intrauterine Devices (IUDs): When inserted into the uterus, IUDs help prevent pregnancy and are of two types – copper IUD and hormonal IUD.
- Barrier Methods: Condoms, diaphragms, and sponges, are the most common barrier methods for prevention of pregnancy as well as protection from STD (Sexually Transmitted Diseases).
- Natural Methods: Also known as Fertility Awareness, this method involves skipping sex or using a barrier method during the ‘fertile days’ of the woman. The common types of natural family planning include Calendar Rhythm Method, Measuring Basal Body Temperature, Mucus Inspection Method, Symptothermal Method, Withdrawal Method, and more. These types of natural family planning methods aid in preventing pregnancy.
- Permanent Birth Control: Also known as Sterilization, this method is apt for couples who do not want any children. By undergoing a Vasectomy, a man, and with a Tubal Ligation, a woman can adopt this permanent method of contraception.
- Emergency Contraception: This method is a backup method if a condom breaks or the couple has forgotten to use a birth control method.
Effectiveness of Birth Control Methods
The effectiveness of birth control methods depends on the stage of adoption of these methods. The common stages include:
- Prior to an Intercourse: Hormonal methods and IUDs are effective, Barrier methods are moderately effective, and Natural methods are less effective before an intercourse. These methods are apt for couples who wish to have children in the future.
- Post Intercourse: Emergency Contraception helps prevent pregnancy after an unprotected intercourse.
- Permanent Solutions: For those who already have children or are not planning to have them in the future can adopt Permanent Birth Control methods.
- Post Delivering a Baby: The best birth control methods for a woman who has just delivered a baby include IUDs, condoms, and Progestin-only Contraceptives (POP). These do not affect the quantity or quality of breast milk.
- Time Period between Two Children: After the birth of one child and before planning the second, a couple can adopt Natural methods like Withdrawal or Fertility Awareness in addition to Barrier methods.
- After an Abortion: Hormonal methods like Birth Control Pills, Contraceptive Patches, or Vaginal Rings are apt for women who have recently aborted but wish to have a child in the future.
- At the Time of Menopause: Low-dose Contraceptives are apt for women approaching menopause. These pills help to deal with menopausal symptoms, such as, hot flashes and vaginal dryness.
Relation between the Age of a Person and Choice of Birth Control Methods
Birth control methods are equally effective for people of all ages. However, medical practitioners do not recommend some methods for sexually active teenagers or women over 35 who smoke. For example, it is advisable for women above 35 who smoke to stop using birth control pills (except for the Progestin-only Pill) and instead adopt an IUD.
Health Factors That Limit the Choice of Birth Control Methods
It is best to consult a medical practitioner before adopting any of the birth control methods. Some of these methods may not suit people with certain health problems. For example, combined Hormonal methods are not suitable for chain smokers, people with High Blood Pressure, advanced Diabetes, Migraine, history of Stroke, Blood Clots, Liver Disease, Heart Ailments, and more.