Various Birth Control Methods

Contraceptives are methods that prevent one from getting pregnant. Whatever be the reason for using them, it is essential to know everything about them before opting for one. Women can consult their gynecologist for an expert opinion on which method of contraception would be best for them. Certain oral contraceptives have their own side-effects and should be taken with doctor supervision.

Some contraceptives are inserted in the body (i.e., diaphragms), while still others build a literal barrier to stop the sperms from entering the vaginal canal (i.e., spermicides). This article discusses various main types of contraception or birth control that one can choose from:

1. Condoms
Condoms are a barrier method, which is one of the main types of contraception or birth control methods that are highly effective and convenient as compared to other methods. Unlike surgical methods or hormonal methods, there are minimal risks involved. The condom is a latex barrier worn over the penis before intercourse. It ensures that the man ejaculates within the condom, thus preventing the sperm from entering the vagina. Apart from contraception, it can help prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (STD). The disadvantages of using condoms are that some people might develop an allergy to latex or might already suffer from one and be unable to use them. Another risk is that of the condom being torn or slipping off. There are also female condoms available. These are in the form of a pouch and are inserted 8 hours before intercourse.

2. Spermicides
Spermicides are creams, foams, or jellies that are inserted into the vagina before sexual intercourse. They dissolve and form a barrier that kills the sperm before it can enter the cervix. It can be used five minutes before sexual intercourse. Spermicides can be combined with condoms and other barrier methods to increase their effectiveness. This is not a 100% effective contraception method. There are possible side effects of burning and itching in the vagina on using this chemical barrier method of contraception.

3. Diaphragm
The diaphragm is a latex cup that needs to be inserted at least 4 hours before intercourse. Inserting it properly is important so that it acts as a barrier over the cervix and prevents sperm from entering. This method is considered 82% effective in preventing pregnancies. It does not, however, ensure protection against STDs.

4. Contraceptive sponge
The contraceptive sponge is a ring that is made of polyurethane foam. Its effectiveness is increased by the use of spermicide in it. This doughnut-shaped ring needs to be inserted into the vagina and the procedure is similar to that of inserting a tampon. Once inserted, it acts as a barrier preventing sperm from reaching the eggs. It provides protection for at least 24 hours and must not be removed for six hours after intercourse. Its effectiveness is estimated to be between 64% to 82% and it is one of the main types of contraception or birth control methods. However, this method can lead to allergies being developed, making it advisable to consult a doctor before using it.