Contraception is a way of preventing pregnancy as a woman gets pregnant when a man’s sperm reaches her ova (egg). All Contraception methods works to prevent this from happening and it also helps in planning the family.
There are diverse methods of contraception, each with its merits and demerits.
There are a variety of contraception to choose from, while choosing you should pick the one that suits your lifestyle.
It is highly recommended that you discuss your contraceptives options with your health care provider to determine which is perfect for you.
There are a variety of contraception methods and each method make use of different method to stop the sperm from reaching the egg. This is why it is essential that you consult your doctor who after studying your body will advise you on the best method for you.
Different mechanism of action of contraception include:
Stopping egg production in the female
Stopping attachment of fertilized egg to the lining of the womb.
Keeping the egg and sperm far apart.
Methods of Contraception.
A. Barrier methods
Barrier methods: these method uses a covering to cover the genitals of the parties engaging in sexual activity to avoid the semen from getting into the vaginal at all e.g. condoms, diaphragm or cervical cap, sponge etc.
Condoms are a form of contraception that protects against both sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and pregnancy.
Condoms as a barrier method is readily available and quite affordable. Condoms should be used to protect the sexual health of both partners irrespective of other contraception you are using to prevent pregnancy. There are condoms for both genders.
Diaphragm and Cervical Cap: A Diaphragm / Cervical Cap is placed inside the vagina to cover the cervix to block sperm. The diaphragm is shaped as a shoal cup while a cervical cap is shaped as a thimble cup.
This barrier method is inserted before sexual intercourse, they insert them with spermicide to block or kill sperm.
It is important that you visit your health care providers for a proper fitting because diaphragms and cervical caps come in different sizes. Using a wrong size of either method results in failed contraception.
Sponge: A Sponge as a contraceptive method contains spermicide and is placed in the vagina where it fits over the cervix. A sponge contraceptive has a lifespan of 24 hours after insertion and must be left in the vagina for a minimum of 6 hours after the last sexual intercourse, after which it is removed and discarded.
Male condom: It is worn by a man, as it prevents the released sperm from getting into a woman’s body. It also help prevent pregnancy, HIV and other STDs. There are different types of condoms which include latex- which is the most common type, synthetic and natural/lambskin condoms.
Unlike other condom types, “Natural” or “lambskin” condoms although prevents pregnancy, may not provide protection against STDs, including HIV.
You should also talk to your health care provider before choosing a suitable condom type especially if you make use of lubricants.
Female condom: It is worn by the woman, it helps keeps sperm from getting into her body. It is usually packaged with a lubricant and is available at pharmacies.
Spermicides: These products work by killing sperm. Spermicide comes in different forms – foam, gel, cream, film, suppository, or tablet.
They are placed in the vagina for a maximum time an one hour before sexual intercourse and retained in vagina for at least six to eight hours after sexual intercourse. They can be used in addition to a male condom, diaphragm, or cervical cap.
C. Intrauterine Contraception(IUD)
Intrauterine devices is a contraception method where tiny devices are inserted into the body of the female to prevent her from getting pregnant.
There are different types of intrauterine devices with diverse mechanism of action.
Levonorgestrel intrauterine system(LNG IUD) : This a small T-shaped device. It is placed inside the uterus by a trained health provider. It releases a small amount of progestin everyday to prevent pregnancy.
It has a lifespan of about 3 to 6years depending on the device.
Copper T intrauterine device (IUD): This is also a small T-shaped device put inside your uterus by a trained health care provider to prevent pregnancy.
D. Hormonal Methods.
Birth control implant: This is a thin single rod inserted intradermally- under the skin of a woman’s upper arm. The rod contains a certain concentration of progestin which is usually released gradually to prevent pregnancy over time usually about 3 years.
Progestin Injections: This injection is given intramuscularly in the buttocks or arm every 3 months.
E. Oral Contraception
Oral Combined Contraceptive(OCP): This is an oral pill to be taken everyday at a specific time. This pill contains both estrogen and progestin, usually prescribed by your health care provider to prevent pregnancy. It is usually compulsory you consult your health care provider before taking the pill because a some health issue may be precipitated by using the pill.
Progestin only pill: The progestin only pill like it’s name suggests contains only progestin. It is usually prescribed by an health care provider after serial examination. It is to be taken at the same time every day. It is usually prescribed for women who can’t take estrogen.
F. Birth Control Patch.
Birth control patch is designed in form of a plaster to be worked on the buttocks, lower abdomen or upper body. It is designed to gradually release progestin and estrogen hormone into bloodstream. It is usually worn once a week for three weeks with a one week break so you can have your menstrual cycle. You should consult your health care provider before using a patch.
G. Contraceptive Ring
Contraceptive Rings as a form of contraception usually contains both progestin and estrogen hormone which is meant to be gradually released into the bloodstream. The ring is usually placed in the vagina. Like the patch, the ring is worn for three weeks and removed on the fourth week to allow menstrual cycle occur after which you insert a new ring.
H. Fertility Awareness-based Methods.
This method is a crude method and has higher failure rate. In this method you have to understand your monthly fertility pattern so that you plan to have sex on your safe days to avoid pregnancy.
In this method you must know your ovulation days and signs to predict when you are most fertile and have higher chances of getting pregnant. If you have a regular menstrual cycle your fertile days are usually about 9 to 14days but it is still compulsory you visit your health care provider to discuss this method.
I. Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM)
In this method the woman must have just put to bed and also meet these other conditions:
1. Amenorrhea: There must be absence of her menstrual cycle after delivering her baby
2. Breastfeeding: The woman must be fully / nearly fully breastfeeding her child
3. If you must use this method, it must be less than 6months after she put to bed.
LAM is a temporary method of contraception and must be augmented with another means of contraception when any of the three conditions are not met.
J. Emergency Contraception.
Emergency contraception as the name implies is only used when no contraception was in use when sex happened / when a contraception method used failed e.g if a condom broke.
Copper IUD: The Copper T intrauterine Device can be inserted within five days of unprotected sex as a means of emergency contraception.
Emergency contraceptive pills: After engaging in unprotected sex and without an existing contraception plan, women can take emergency contraceptive pill up until 120hours after the sex. But it is better taken within 24hours after sex as it is most effective then. There are different types of emergency contraceptives pills, you should discuss the best available option with your healthcare provider.
K. Permanent Methods of Birth Control.
These methods are irreversible and must be resorted to only after proper deliberation and consultation with your healthcare provider.
It is available for both male and female.
Female Sterilization which is also referred to as Tubal ligation: This involves removing /tying the female fallopian tubes to ensure that sperm and egg cannot meet for fertilization. This procedure should be performed by a trained health care provider. The procedure becomes effective immediately.
Male Sterilization which is also referred to as Vasectomy is done to keep the male’s sperm from going to his penis. Hence his ejaculate never has sperm in it that can fertilize egg. Unlike the female sterilisation, the male has to visit the doctor after the operation to take a sperm count test which certifies if the operation is now effective and this usually take about 12weeks. During this period of 12weeks another means of contraception should be used.