All You Should Know About Birth Control

  • 18/03/2022

  • The Helium Team

Birth control is a general term that defines methods used to avoid pregnancy. According to data from the United Nations, amongst the 1.9 billion Women of the Reproductive Age group (15-49 years) globally in 2019, only 842 million are using contraceptive methods. Birth control can help you determine the number and birth spacing of your children.

There are several birth control methods and they differ in effectiveness, costs, and side effects. Doctors rate the effectiveness of birth control methods by ideal and typical use. Ideal use means that the method is adhered to strictly and perfectly. For example, in the case of daily birth control pills, the ideal use is to take them every day without fail. However, typical use takes inconsistencies and occasional disruptions into consideration.

Moreover, before you go for birth control, here are important factors you should consider and discuss with your gynaecologist.

  • How much will it cost?
  • How effective will it be?
  • Would you still want to get pregnant in the future?
  • What are the possible side effects?
  • Which birth control method would suit your lifestyle?

In this article, we explore different methods of birth control and how effective they are.

Behavioural Method

In this method of birth control, both partners work together to avoid pregnancy. Behavioural birth control methods include abstinence (avoiding sexual relations), fertility awareness (abstaining from sex around the woman’s ovulation period), and withdrawal (removing the penis before ejaculation).

For abstinence, there are zero chances of pregnancies. There is also no risk of contracting any sexually transmitted disease (STDs). For the withdrawal method, 4 out of 100 women per year may get pregnant under ideal use. However, in typical cases, the number may increase to 20 out of 100 women per year. Behavioural birth control is usually free.

Sterilization Methods

Sterilization methods require medical intervention. In tubal ligation, a type of sterilization, the woman’s fallopian tubes may be blocked, tied, clamped, sealed, or cut. Fallopian tubes connect a woman’s ovaries and uterus. This tube has to be clipped by a trained medical professional. There is little or zero risk of getting pregnant.

Hormonal Methods

Progesterone and estrogen hormones play an important role in ovulation. The principle of hormonal methods is based on progesterone and estrogen levels. The progestin can thicken the cervical mucus (this blocks sperm from meeting an egg). It can also prevent the release of eggs from the ovaries.  There are several hormonal methods built on this principle.

Implants: In this procedure, a doctor puts a matchstick-sized rod with progestin under the skin on your arm. Implants also reduce the risk of pregnancy by over 99% in both ideal and typical use. It can last up to 3 years.

Birth control shots: This method is by far, the most popular. You can receive a shot of progestin usually every 3 months. However, the risk of pregnancy is also low, with only 4 out of 100 women per year getting pregnant under typical use.

IUDS: IUD is a short form for intrauterine devices. A small T-shaped device that has progestin is inserted into your uterus. This form of contraceptives usually lasts for 3-5 years. IUDS are generally of four types: Kyleena, Liletta, Mirena, Skyla. The risk of pregnancy is also very low. However, this procedure requires medical consultation.

Birth control pills: This method is also quite popular. Pills can be progestin-only pills, emergency contraceptive pills, or combined oral contraceptives. Emergency contraceptive pills are taken less than 72 hours after sex. Whilst, the progestin, and combined oral contraceptives must be taken every day, regardless of having sex or not. There are only 0.3 pregnant women by year under ideal use and 7 in typical cases.

Birth control patch: This procedure involves sticking a square patch on the skin. Your body absorbs estrogen and progesterone from it. Although this method can be effective, it is important to discuss it with your gynaecologist.

Barrier methods

Condoms: There are both male and female condoms. This requires the use of a sheath (male) and a thin barrier (female). It is the only other birth control method that reduces the risk of STDs. It can also reduce the risk of pregnancy.

Cervical caps: This is a soft, deep, latex rubber cap that covers the cervix.  It comes in different sizes and requires fitting by a trained provider.

Birth control can seem like a scary phase for women and couples—very few people understand what birth control is. It is important to note the following:

  • The birth control method does not change sexual behaviour.
  • Birth control does not cause birth defects or multiple births.

You should arrange sessions with your gynaecologist or medical practitioner to discuss your best birth control methods.