Contraception is an important and essential public healthcare requirement. Control over one’s fertility is a crucial part of a woman’s independence. In recent years, the dialogue around fertility control, contraception and the ‘pro-choice’ movement has significantly increased awareness about the need for a woman to be in charge of her sexual and reproductive health. However, due to irresponsible marketing and industry driven propaganda, emergency contraception has come to the forefront of the public eye. Dr Neha Karve, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Hiranandani Hospital, Vashi, sheds light on different contraception methods and their pros and cons to help you decide what’s the right one for you.
What is contraception? Any medical intervention which prevents a pregnancy from occurring in case of unprotected sexual intercourse is a contraceptive method. There are many contraceptive methods available today. Oral contraceptive pills and condoms are the most commonly used. However, there are others like Intrauterine Devices (IUD), Depot Hormonal Injections, newer pill combinations, etc, which you can discuss with your doctor and reach a choice most suitable for you. You need to be careful about not just choosing one without a medical opinion as it can work against you. Barring condoms, anything that needs to be ingested or inserted needs a doctor’s advice.
What are the tips to keep in mind before choosing these contraception methods?
There are a few conditions which help a woman or couple decide the choice of contraceptive that is best-suited for them. Usually, the patient’s age, marital status, number of children and co-existing medical conditions help in deciding the choice of contraception. Your gynaecologist will help you reach an appropriate decision. It is possible that you might have to try out one or the other method before reaching a suitable choice as not everything suits all and so, based on your health and body, a doctor can help you figure it out.
Most common contraception methods There are some methods that are more commonly used than others because of their availability and health reasons too.
Condoms: One of the most common methods to prevent unwanted pregnancy is condoms. They also help in curbing the risk of sexually transmitted diseases. Condoms are easy to use, readily available and have fewer side-effects. However, they have a higher failure rate than long-acting contraceptives. They interfere with sexual sensation, and for this reason are not preferred by some couples. Condoms are the contraceptive method that has least side-effects and contraindications. However, it has a slightly higher failure rate. The major contraindication to not use condoms is latex allergy. If you or your partner does not suffer from this, you can use this protection method during sexual intercourse. However, if the condom tears or breaks, do take immediate measures. Also remember that there is no guarantee that you can’t get pregnant using condoms as they are not hundred per cent safe.
Oral contraceptive pills: Another method that is highly popular and more effective than condoms is the oral contraceptive or birth control pills. Oral pills are hormonal pills, which have several benefits. However, they are also some conditions in which they must be consumed with caution. It is best to consult with a gynaecologist before starting on oral pills. These are hormonal tablets which suppress the inherent hormonal cycle of the body. By doing so, they suppress ovulation from occurring, thus preventing pregnancy.