What are contraceptives?

Contraceptives are drugs, methods or devices used in order to prevent unwanted pregnancies. Contraceptives are used for family planning. Contraception is also called birth control or fertility control. There are different types of contraceptives:

Sterilization: It is the most effective but it is usually not reversible. Once you choose this method, you might never be able to conceive again. It exists for both males and females. For females, it is called tubal ligation and for male it is called vasectomy. Both methods involve surgery.

Barrier Methods: Involves the use of condoms, diaphragms and birth control sponges.

Hormone based Methods: Include oral pills, injections, vaginal rings and patches

Natural Method: Include fertility awareness (techniques used to monitor your safe and unsafe period), withdrawal by the male just before ejaculation (not reliable) and abstinence (most effective and reversible). Fertility awareness comes with no side effects and has a 99 % success if well applied.

Contraceptive Implant: Include the use of intrauterine devices

Other Methods: Use of spermicide

If you are not sure about which one is best for you, then talk to a doctor

What Opportunities do Contraceptives Offer?

The following advantages are associated with the use of contraceptives:

  1. Allows you to enjoy sex any time
  2. Prevent unwanted pregnancies
  3. Prevent sexually transmitted infections. This additional advantage is offered only by the barrier methods of contraceptives such as the use of a condom. Although other methods might be most effective, they will not protect you from sexually transmittable infections.
  4. Some contraceptives such as IUD can help alleviate some symptoms observed during menstruation such as heavy bleeding.

The Misfortune of Contraceptives

Despite the advantages offered by contraceptives, they are nothing but a necessary evil. It is important that you know the side-effects or limitations of any form of contraceptive you choose and if possible talk to your doctor about it.

Contraceptives offer the following disadvantages:

  • You may never be able to give birth again
  • You may suffer from several diseases such as cancer, heart attack, stroke, blot clothing problem
  • Contraceptives alter your menstrual cycle. This is not healthy and can make you sick.
  • The following categories of women are not allowed to take contraceptives: Women who smoke, are obese, have blood lipid, high blood pressure or diabetes. Talk to you doctor if otherwise.
  • Hormone based methods are the most unhealthy methods of contraceptives and are responsible for most complications observed.

Emergency Contraception

Emergency contraception is a birth control method used to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex or if the contraception initially used used has fail. For example, condom used might split or you forgot to take one of your pills.  

Emergency contraception comes in 2 categories:

  • Emergency contraception pills: They are also called “morning after” pills. It can be taken within 72 h (Levonelle) or 120 h (EllaOne) of unprotected sex. The earlier you take either of these pills, the more effective they will be. If you vomit within 2 or 3 hours of taking an emergency pill, then you will be required to take another dose.
  • Intrauterine devices (IUD): A device placed under your womb by a doctor or nurse. It is most effective than the emergency contraception pills (less than 1 % of women get pregnant from using it) but must be fitted within 5 days (120 h) of having unprotected sex or up to 5 days after ovulation. IUD can be left in and used as a normal method of contraception but it can alter your period or cause pain

Final words

If you have any form of sickness or disease (including overweight or obese), taking any kind of medication or breast feeding, then talk to your doctor, pharmacist or nurse and you will be advised on the best method possible or about any possible complications that may arise.