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Your Ultimate Guide to Birth Control


Source: Science Photo Gallery / Getty Images

With so many birth control or contraceptive methods available, how do you choose which to use? Keep reading as we take you through the various types of birth controls for you to decide which suits you best!


What is Birth Control or Contraception?

As the name implies, the purpose of birth control is to prevent unintended pregnancies. There can be multiple different reasons why women or their partners do not want to introduce a child into their lives. Having access to safe birth control methods is the cornerstone of women’s sexual and reproductive health.


Which Method of Birth Control Suits You Best?

The choice of birth control is a complex decision but we will do our best to simplify it for your understanding. The pros and cons of the available methods have to be assessed and compared to find the birth control option that suits you best.


Factors that you should consider when choosing a birth control method includes:¹

  • Efficacy

  • Cost

  • Privacy

  • Convenience

  • Effective duration of the drug or medical device

  • Type and frequency of the side effects

  • Protection against sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs)

  • Duration to restoring fertility after stopping birth control method


It can be overwhelming when it comes to choosing the right type of birth control. However, you can always talk to a healthcare professional about it.


What types of Birth Control Methods are there?

The types of birth control can be categorized into 2 main categories:

  • Hormonal Birth Control

  • Non-hormonal Birth Control


It goes without saying that abstinence from vaginal sexual intercourse is 100% effective in preventing pregnancies because the sperm has to meet the egg for fertilization to occur. However, if abstinence is not an option, below are the various birth control methods that you can choose from.


Hormonal Birth Control

Hormonal Birth Control refers to methods that contain either estrogen and progestin (COC) or progestin alone (POC). The hormonal birth control method is generally a reliable way to prevent unwanted pregnancy for most people. They include:


  • Birth Control Implants

Single-rod progestin implants inserted into the arm by a healthcare provider lasting for at least 3 years

  • Intrauterine Devices

T-shaped devices containing hormones or copper that can last for years after insertion into the female uterus

  • Injectable Birth Control

Intramuscular injections into the buttock or upper arm done once every 3 months

  • Birth Control Pills

Pills that contain female hormones that are taken every day except for scheduled periods

  • Vaginal Rings

Flexible plastic vaginal rings containing estrogen and progestin that are replaced every 4 weeks

  • Skin Patches

Patches that contain female hormones that has to be changed every week

Hormonal birth control may cause side effects such as mood changes, nausea, breast tenderness and irregular bleeding.¹ They may also increase or decrease serum levels of other medications which can potentially cause adverse effects.¹


Hence, it is essential that you declare your medical history to your healthcare professional when seeking advice for birth control.


Non-Hormonal Birth Control

Non-hormonal birth control works by physically or chemically stopping contact between the sperm and the female egg. Non-hormonal birth control can be divided into 3 major categories which are namely 1) barrier, 2) natural, and 3) surgical methods.


1. Barrier Methods

Barrier methods of birth control work to prevent unwanted pregnancy by keeping the sperm from reaching the egg and are used before sex occurs. The types of barrier methods include:²

  • Male Condoms

Thin latex or non-latex sheaths placed over the erect penis

  • Female Condoms

Long plastic pouches worn inside the vagina

  • Diaphragms & Cervical Caps

Flexible silicone cups inserted through the vagina and placed over the cervix

  • Sponges

Soft, disk-shaped devices that contain spermicide which is inserted through the vagina

  • Spermicide

Chemicals which kill sperm that works better when used with another barrier method


Source: Science Photo Gallery / Getty Images | Spermicides may cause local irritation and have been linked to an increased risk of vaginal infections.

2. Natural Methods

Some women or their sexual partners are unable or choose not to use other birth control methods due to cultural or religious reasons. Thus, they may consider using natural methods of birth control which include:

  • Fertility-awareness method or natural family planning³

Prevents pregnancy by keeping track of the female body’s physiological changes. It involves identifying fertile days of the period cycle and avoiding sexual intercourse or using barrier methods on those days. Fertile days can be determined by calculating the length of a woman’s period cycle and also through monitoring physical manifestations such as cervical secretions and basal body temperature.

  • Withdrawal method or coitus interruptus

Method of pulling out the penis from the vagina before ejaculation to prevent the sperm from entering the vagina. This birth control method can be unreliable as it requires self-control and the pre-ejaculation fluid may sometimes contain sperm.


3. Surgical Methods

Surgical methods for birth control, also known as sterilization, are procedures which render the man or the woman permanently infertile. Hence, the couple should receive careful counselling to ensure they fully understand and are willing to accept the non-reversible nature of this procedure. There are 2 different types of surgical methods:

  • Tubal ligation³

This procedure is done in women and prevents pregnancy by surgically cutting, blocking or sealing the fallopian tubes. It is very effective and can even be performed right after the delivery of a baby.

  • Vasectomy³

Simple outpatient procedure for men done under local anaesthetic where the vas deferens are cut or tied so that the sperms will not be released during ejaculation. It is very effective and will not affect men’s sex drive or ability to have an erection.


Summary

  • There are many different methods for birth control which can be broadly categorized into non-hormonal and hormonal birth control.

  • Multiple factors should be carefully considered before selecting a birth control method.

  • It is important for women or their sexual partners to understand the consequence of the chosen birth control method.


This health article is brought to you by Miraco Nutripharm. With clinically proven women’s probiotic Pro-Uro™ as our key product, we believe in sharing about common health topics relevant to women. Look out for second part of this article to learn more about Non-Hormonal Birth Control Methods.


References

  1. Kaunitz AM. Patient education: Hormonal methods of birth control (Beyond the Basics). In: UpToDate, Post TW (Ed), UpToDate, Waltham, MA, 2021.

  2. UpToDate. Patient education: Barrier methods of birth control (The Basics). In: UpToDate, Post TW (Ed), UpToDate, Waltham, MA, 2021.

  3. Kaunitz AM. Patient education: Birth control; which method is right for me? (Beyond the Basics). In: UpToDate, Post TW (Ed), UpToDate, Waltham, MA, 2021.


Disclaimer: The article content is intended for informational or educational purposes only, and does not substitute professional medical advice or consultations with healthcare professionals. The disclaimer also provides that no warranties are given in relation to the medical information supplied in the article, and that no liability will accrue to Miraco Nutripharm Pte Ltd or any affiliated authors in the event that a user suffers loss as a result of reliance upon the information.

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