Contraception is the use of hormones, devices or surgery to prevent pregnancy . The major aim of using contraception is to enable users to choose if and when to have a baby. Contraception as a concept is as old as human existence. Studies have shown that various forms of human attempts to control pregnancy were in use even in the early centuries. By early 1850 B.C., contraceptive techniques such as the use of vaginal pessary of crocodile dung and fermented dough were common. These substances created a hostile environment for the sperm.
This forms the origin of today’s voluntary control of fertility. Today, the use of contraception is necessitated by rapid population growth faced by most countries across the globe. Effective contraception also enhances the ability by most women to realize their individual goals in life. Experts have thus invented methods of contraception from which a couple may choose. The choice is however guided by factors such as efficacy, safety, costs, non-contraceptive benefits among other personal considerations (Jutte 119).
Types of Contraceptives
According to various studies, condom is the most commonly used type of contraception. This is majorly because of its effectiveness in the prevention of pregnancy (Shoupe and Kjos 147). Even those who use other methods of contraception normally complement them with condoms. Condoms work by preventing the sperm from reaching an egg thus ensuring that no fertilization takes place. The method is normally used during vaginal, anal or oral sex (Collier 13).
Combined contraceptive pill which is normally referred to simply as pill is another form of contraception. It contains estrogen and progesterone hormones. However, due to various complains of complications resulting from the effect of estrogen hormone by most mothers, progesterone-only pill has been developed as an alternative. The pill does not contain any estrogen and is normally for women whose ages exceed 35 years. It is also less dangerous for those who smoke (Cutrer and Glahn 85).
Contraceptive implant and injection is another form of contraception. The methods are common among many women because of their effectiveness and lack of oegestrone (Speroff and Darney 183). They are 99% effective in preventing pregnancy. The contraceptive injection is normally given every 12 weeks while the implant lasts for 3 years (Shoupe and Kjos 117). On the other hand, contraceptive patch is a form of hormonal contraceptive that is worn by a woman during sexual intercourse to prevent conception (Shoupe and Kjos 75). However, the method is not suitable for women who cannot take estrogen–containing contraception. Other barrier methods include diaphragm and capswhich are fit into the vagina to prevent sperms from passing through the cervix.
In a case where a woman has had unprotected sex, the most appropriate method would be an emergency contraception. It greatly reduces the chances of pregnancy among women who have had unprotected sex. It is also the best alternative in cases where the initially used method of contraception has failed (Shoupe and Kjos 195). It includes both the emergency contraceptive pill and the copper intrauterine device commonly known as a coil. Intra-uterine Device (IUD) is appealing majorly because it can take a long period of time, even to 10 years (Collier 81). IUD is closely similar to Intra-uterine System (IUS). However, the IUS works by releasing progesterone hormone instead of copper as in the case of IUD.
Some methods of conception are permanent. These include vasectomy and sterilization. Vasectomy, also known as male sterilization, is a permanent method of preventing men from being able to release sperms. This is the same case with female sterilization which also permanently prevents a woman from being able to conceive (Cutrer and Glahn 143). Sterilization involves cutting or blocking the fallopian tubes thereby preventing the egg from reaching the sperm.
The advancement in the medical field has made it possible for female sterilization to be reversed. This involves removing the blocked part of the fallopian tube and rejoining the ends. However, studies have shown that just between 50 to 60% of such cases leads to the possibility of pregnancy. Apart from the method that was used during the operation, success of reversal process also depends on the age of the woman. It is usually easier to reverse the initially clipped fallopian tubes than those which had been tied (Collier 121).
Effectiveness of the Contraception
According to various studies, there is no contraceptive method that is 100% effective. The effectiveness of any contraception depends on the method used, an individual’s age, the frequency of the individual’s involvement in sexual intercourse and whether or not the contraceptives are used correctly. For example, missing pills makes the process ineffective. However, most of the contraceptives are 99% effective if taken according to the doctors’ prescription (Shoupe 40). For example, male condom is 98% effective while female condom is 95% effective. Most of the contraceptives available with prescriptions like the combined contraceptive pill are equally very effective. Studies have also shown that some medicines can interact with some forms of hormonal contraception such as the pill to reduce its effectiveness. Such interactions may lower the amount of the contraceptive pills that the body can absorb (Shoupe and Kjos 225).
Side effects of Contraceptives
Just like other drugs, contraceptives equally have side effects. The risk is even greater for those who smoke cigarettes while taking oral contraceptives. This increases the individual’s chances of contracting heart related diseases. Studies have also shown that the birth control pill increases the women’s chances of contracting breast cancer. The percentage of risk varies depending on the duration for which a woman uses the pills before her first delivery. Risk rates can be as high as 70% in cases where the pill is used for four or more years before the woman’s first delivery (Shoupe and Kjos 226).
Other side effects may include high blood pressure, blood clots, stroke, heart attack, depression and gaining of weight. Research has also shown that chances of transmission of AIDs virus are high whenever a woman who is taking pills has sex with a partner with HIV virus.
Contraception, Menopause and Birth
Because periods may become irregular, the women who are sexually active just after their last years of child bearing age should continue using contraception until they have not had their periods for at least one year. Pregnancy can still occur during this time since fertility returns almost immediately after birth. Studies have also indicated the possibility of woman becoming pregnant soon after a delivery. This is irrespective of whether one is breastfeeding or the period has not returned. The findings have shown that a woman can ovulate two weeks before the return of the period.
Male and female condoms can even be used a few days after delivery while the pills and the implant methods can only be used 3 weeks after child birth. On the other side, combined pills are not recommended when one is still breastfeeding as it can affect the milk supply. Other methods like the contraceptive injection, diagram or cap are normally used from six months after the delivery date (Shoupe and Kjos 228).
With today’s concern about the need to guard against overpopulation, it is expected that the rate of using the contraceptives will continue to rise. Contraceptives are increasingly being made available for users at various places. These include GP surgeries, community contraceptive clinics, some genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinics, the sexual health clinics and some young people’s service centers. The challenge however remains to be the need for more research to help reduce the side effects of each method of contraception.