Birth Control: Choosing a method that is right for you

What kind of method of birth control is right for me?

The type of method of birth control you choose depends on your needs. Some people only need to prevent pregnancy. Other people may also want to protect themselves or their partners from diseases that can be transmitted by having sex. Sexually transmitted diseases including AIDS, chlamydia, herpes, genital warts, gonorrhea and syphilis. Talk to your family doctor about the pros and cons of each option for birth control.

Is saying "no" really an option?

Yes, the risk of becoming pregnant or contracting an STD may outweigh the pleasure you get from sex. This is the only way to ensure you will not get pregnant, you will not get someone pregnant or you will not get an STD is to not have sex at all.

What are barrier methods?

Barrier methods include the diaphragm, cervical cap and condoms. These methods prevent pregnancy by blocking sperm from reaching the uterus. Methods must be used whenever you have sex.

What about the diaphragm and cervical cap?

These are also good choices. A woman should visit your doctor to make that fit a diaphragm or cervical cap. Diaphragm in some women may increase the risk of urinary infection.

Are condoms a good choice?

Yes. Condoms are inexpensive and are easy to get. Condoms are a good option, especially if you or your partner are having sex with other people, or if any of you have had sex with someone else before.

Condoms offer the best protection against STDs. Use condoms with a spermicide may offer better protection against pregnancy, but may not be appropriate for everyone. For example, spermicides containing nonoxynol-9 can cause genital irritation and increase the risk of acquiring an STD.

Female condoms are not as effective as male condoms, but can be a good option when the man will not use a male condom.

What about the pill?

Birth control pills work mostly by preventing ovulation ie release of an egg by the ovaries. Most pills contain two hormones estrogen and progestin. Birth control pills may cause side effects such as nausea, headaches, breast swelling, water retention, weight gain and depression. For the pill to work, you have to take it every day. Women taking the pill should not smoke.

The pill may reduce cramping and shorten the number of days of bleeding during the menstrual period. The pill may also help pre-menstrual syndrome.

What about the patch?

The Food and Drug Administration recently approved the use of a hormonal patch for birth control. The patch uses estrogen and progestin to prevent pregnancy. This applies to one of four places: the buttocks, abdomen, upper torso or outer side of the arm. The side effects of this are similar to those of the pill.

What about an IUD?

"IUD" stands for intrauterine device. It is made of flexible plastic. The IUD is inserted by a doctor in the woman's uterus. It is not known exactly how IUDs prevent pregnancy. It appears that it prevents sperm from reaching contact with the egg or prevent the egg from attaching to the uterus.

Some IUDs used previously been associated with serious health problems. Today IUDs are safer, but still have some risks. Most doctors prefer to use IUDs for women who have had a child. Side effects of IUDs include heavier bleeding and stronger cramps during the period.

What about being sterilized?

Sterilization is when a man or a woman undergoes an operation to prevent pregnancy permanently. If you are sure you do not want children or do not want more children, sterilization is a good choice.

Tubal ligation, also known as "tubes tied" is to close the fallopian tubes of women in order that the eggs do not reach the uterus. The fallopian tubes are the tubes through which eggs travel to reach the uterus.

Men are sterilized with a vasectomy. The sperm ducts (vas deferens) of men are closed off so sperm can not get through.

What is natural family planning?

The natural family planning methods require that the couple knows the time during the woman's cycle in which she can get pregnant, usually four days before and two days after ovulation, and the use of other birth control or not having intercourse during those days. There are several ways to track ovulation in women. All require a lot of planning and commitment.

And the method of withdrawal is effective?

No. When a man tries to pull out before ejaculating, it usually leaves behind a small amount of fluid from the penis during sex. This fluid has enough sperm count to produce a pregnancy.

 

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