Sexual intercourse can meet two ends - pleasure and procreation. While it could be a combination of both for many couples, others might not want to have children. The reasons could be many, but medicine has a way to achieve that as well.
Contraception is the process through which pregnancy is prevented through employment for several medical interventions. Pregnancy or conception happens when the man’s sperm meets the woman’s eggs and fertilises it, after which the fertilised egg attaches itself to the lining of the uterus.
Now, to achieve contraception, there are several methods that are used. These can be categorized into
These are the most popular methods of contraception. Oral pills contain two hormones - estrogen and progestin that prevent conception. Usually, the doctor would recommend this pill to be taken once a day, preferably at the same time. Some women might be unable to take estrogen. For them, there is another pill that contains progestin. The duration of consumption remains the same, which is one pill a day.
While the hormones that prevent pregnancy are largely estrogen and progestin, the methods of administering them differ. While pills are an oral method to introduce the hormones to the woman’s body, there are other methods too. These include injection of progestin on the arms or buttocks, usually every three months; or an implant under the skin that keeps releasing progestin through a rod inserted in the arm; or patches that do the same thing.
Intrauterine devices are more invasive methods of contraception. These devices are inserted through the vagina and remain there, some of them releasing estrogen and progestin into the woman’s reproductive system. One of the most popular intrauterine devices is the Copper T. Shaped like a T, the doctor generally places it in the uterus through the vagina. This is supposed to be one of the most effective types of contraception. A slight variation in it is the levonorgestrel intrauterine device, also known as the LNG IUD. The difference between this and the Copper T is the fact that it releases the birth control hormones. Copper T can be left in the woman’s uterus up to a maximum of ten years. There is another device called the ring, which is inserted into the vagina and can stay there for three weeks. It should be removed just before women are expecting their periods. Once done, a new ring needs to be inserted. These rings also release birth control hormones.
These methods are quite convenient. One of the most widely used external contraception is the male condom that goes on to the penis and prevents the sperm from entering the vagina and consequently the female reproductive system. Another, slightly less known method is the female condom, that’s inserted into the woman’s vagina. It essentially does the same thing as the male condom, but the difference being the fact that it’s the woman who uses it. There are two more methods that fall under this category but are slightly different. These are called the barrier methods - one being the cervical cup, which is very similar to the female condom, and the sponge that also goes into the woman’s vagina. Both of them contain what is known as spermicides, a potion that kills all sperms in the vagina.
Surgical contraception can be done for both males and females. For women, it’s typically called tying the tubes, where the woman’s fallopian tubes are tied off so that the sperm and the egg do not come into contact. It’s a minor surgery and patients are allowed to go back home in a short time and is known to be effective immediately. For men, the procedure is called vasectomy, in which the surgery will ensure that the man does not ejaculate sperm after intercourse. While all other methods of contraception are reversible, surgical methods are permanent.
The above mentioned contraceptive methods are all planned and need to be taken only after a discussion with doctors, except for condoms. However, in case of an emergency, there are two methods that are generally suggested - emergency Copper T and contraception pills.
One thing that needs to be kept in mind before engaging in contraceptive methods is the fact that you need to talk to your doctor about your health and your reproductive goals. In case you haven’t made up your mind about starting a family, your doctor will suggest reversible methods. It also depends on your age and other health factors. Whatever it is, be open with your doctor and you will be able to make an informed choice.