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Home » Medical » Contraception » Introduction to Contraception

Introduction to Contraception

»  Male Contraception »  Advantages of Contraception »  Misconceptions of Contraception »  Birth Control Education

Contraception or Birth control generally refers to any plan or method used to alter or avoid the body's natural state of fertility, thereby preventing or reducing the probability of pregnancy without abstaining from sexual intercourse; the term is also sometimes used to include abortion and natural family planning. Contraception aims to prevent sexual intercourse from causing pregnancy.

Contraception for the older woman

As you get older you may notice changes in the pattern of your periods. When periods finally stop you have reached the menopause. However, contraception should continue to be used until you have not had a period or any bleeding for two years if aged under 50 and for one year if over 50. A doctor or Family Planning Clinic will be able to advise you on contraception until then.

Use your contraceptive method carefully

To prevent a pregnancy any contraceptive method has to be used carefully. Many unplanned pregnancies happen because a contraceptive method has not been used carefully or consistently.

Types Of Contraceptive Methods

Effectiveness Predicted (%) Actual (%)
Birth control pills 99.9 97
Condoms 98 88
Depo Provera 99.7 99.7
Diaphragm 94 82
IUDs 99.2 97
Norplant 99.7 99.7
Tubal Sterlization 99.8 99.6
Spermicides 97 79
Vasectomy 99.9 99.9

Unfortunately, there is no perfect form of birth control. Only abstinence (not having sexual intercourse) can protect against unwanted pregnancy with 100% reliability.

Popularity of different types of contraception

The Pill remains the most popular method in the UK, narrowly beating the male condom into second place.

»  The Pill - 24 per cent

»  Male condom - 21 per cent

»  The coil (intra-uterine device) - 5 per cent

»  Withdrawal method - 4 per cent

»  Contraceptive injection - 3 per cent

»  Contraceptive implants - 1 per cent

»  The cap or diaphragm - 1 per cent

»  Natural family planning - 1 per cent

»  Mirena (intra-uterine system) - 1 per cent

»  Female condom - less than 1 per cent

»  Contraceptive patch (Evra) - less than 1 per cent

Risks associated with Contraception

There are risks associated with some forms of birth control. Some of the risks of each method are listed below :

»  Birth Control Pills - Birth control pills can increase the risk of heart attack in women over 40 who smoke.

»  IUD - IUD can increase the risk of serious pelvic infection. It can also injure the uterus by poking into or through the uterine wall. Surgery might be needed to fix this.

»  Tubal Sterilization - "Tying the tubes" is a surgical procedure and has all the risks of any other surgery, including the risks of anesthesia, infection, and bleeding.

Things to remember with Contraception

»  Discuss your options with your doctor, reproductive health nurse or reproductive health service.

»  Different methods may suit you at different times in your life.

»  Contraceptives available include physical barriers and devices, Hormonal Methods, Sterilization, Emergency and 'Natural' Methods. »  Condoms and dams provide the best available protection against Sexually Transmissible Infections (STIs).