FAMILY PLANNING – Birth Control or Contraception Methods
Birth Control or Contraception, deliberate prevention of pregnancy using any of several methods. Birth control prevents a female sex cell (egg) from being fertilized by a male sex cell (sperm) and implanting in the uterus. Inthe United States, about 64 percent of women aged 15 to 44 years practice some form of birth control. When no birth control is used, about 85 percent of sexually active couples experience a pregnancy within one year.There are a variety of birth control methods to choose from, although most options are for women. Selecting amethod is a personal decision that involves consideration of many factors, including convenience, reliability,side effects, and reversibility (whether the method is temporary or permanent). For instance, some people may prefer a birth control option that provides continuous protection against pregnancy, while others may prefer amethod that only prevents pregnancy during a single act of sexual intercourse. Some people might have pastillnesses or medical conditions that prevent them from using certain types of birth control methods. Somewomen may find that certain birth control methods cause uncomfortable side effects, such as irregular menstrual bleeding, weight gain, or mood changes. A person with multiple sexual partners may prefer a birth controlmethod that also offers protection from sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Another important considerationis whether a person ever plans to have children. Most birth control methods are reversible—they do not affect a person’s ability to reproduce once the method is halted. But surgical birth control methods cannot, in mostcases, be reversed; once a man or woman undergoes the surgery, he or she can no longer reproduce.In addition to choosing the type of method to prevent pregnancy, men and women are faced with a number of other reproductive choices. Experts use the broader term f
for the process of making decisionsabout when to have children and how many children to have, as well as strategies for achieving these goals.EFFECTIVENESS No birth control method, other than abstinence from sex, is 100 percent effective in preventing pregnancy. Somemethods are more effective than others, and scientists use two types of pregnancy rates when describingeffectiveness. Method effectiveness, or perfect use, is the percentage of pregnancies that occur when a particular method is used correctly and consistently with each act of sexual intercourse. User effectiveness, or typical use,is the percentage of pregnancies that result from average use of the method, which accounts for improper or inconsistent use. This article provides typical use statistics in its overview of birth control methods.TYPES OF BIRTH CONTROL METHODBirth control methods work in different ways to prevent pregnancy. Some methods prevent sperm from meetingeggs. Others affect a woman’s hormones, altering her reproductive cycle. Other birth control methods involve behaviors that alter sexual activity in ways that lessen the chance for pregnancy.
Barrier methods physically block sperm from entering the uterus to unite with an egg. Barrier methodsmust be used with each act of sexual intercourse. While they are easy to use, some people feel barrier methods are inconvenient because they interfere with sexual spontaneity. Barrier methods include maleand female condoms, the diaphragm, the cervical cap, and spermicides.
The male condom is a thin sheath made of latex, polyurethane, or less commonly, animal membrane,that fits over an erect penis. During ejaculation (when semen ejects from the penis), the condomcatches and holds sperm before it can travel into a woman’s uterus. After each act of sexualintercourse the condom is removed and thrown away. The condom is inexpensive, easy to use, anddoes not require a prescription. It has no known side effects, although those people who are sensitiveor allergic to latex should use polyurethane condoms.Male condoms made of latex or polyurethane also protect users against many STIs, including humanimmunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Withtypical use, male condoms are 86 percent effective in preventing pregnancy. Using a condom withother types of birth control, such as a spermicide (chemical that kills sperm) or withdrawal(removing the penis from the vagina just before ejaculation) greatly improves condom effectiveness.2.Female CondomThe female condom, available without a prescription, is an elongated polyurethane sac. A womaninserts the closed end of the sac into the vagina to cover the cervix (the opening of the uterus) and prevent sperm from entering the uterus. The open end of the sac remains outside the vagina for the penis to enter. Like the male condom, the female condom must be thrown away after use and a newone used for each act of intercourse. With typical use, the female condom is 79 percent effective in preventing pregnancy. It also reduces the risk of many STIs. Some people experience genitalirritation from the female condom.