Birth Control

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Birth control is the voluntary limiting of producing offspring by artificial methods. It is done to restrict the number of children and to increase the spacing between them.

Condom is said to have been invented in 3000 B.C. in Egypt. Ancient drawings depict men wearing condoms like things - sometimes made of material that may have been animal hide. In 200 A.D., Greek gynecologist Soranus said women were fertile during ovulation but thought ovulation occurred during menstruation. He suggested that women smear olive oil, pomegranate pulp, ginger, or tobacco juice around vagina to kill sperm.

Why should I be aware of this?

  • There is no “best” method of birth control. Each method has its pros and cons.
  • Birth control allows couples to regulate the size of their families.
  • It helps to preserve the health of women.
  • The use of barrier techniques to prevent pregnancy also reduces the rate of transmission of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
  • Estrogen in the birth control pill increases triglycerides as well as HDL cholesterol and lowers LDL cholesterol. The progestin in the birth control pill lowers HDL (good) and raises LDL (bad) cholesterol.
  • Women who get pregnant while using the birth control pill have no greater incidence of any type of birth defect.
  • After stopping the birth control pill you will have a slight delay before you return to fertility and pregnancy.

All about birth control

Birth control is also referred to as contraception. It is designed to prevent pregnancy. Birth control methods may work in a number of different ways. These include

  1. Preventing sperm from getting to the eggs - condoms, diaphragms and intrauterine devices (IUDs) work this way.
  2. Keeping the woman's ovaries from releasing eggs that could be fertilized - birth control pills work this way.
  3. Sterilization, which permanently prevents a woman from getting pregnant or a man from being able to get a woman pregnant.

Types of Birth Control

  • Continuous Abstinence -- This means not having sex (vaginal, anal, or oral) at any time. It is the only sure way to prevent pregnancy and protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV, AIDS.
  • Natural Family Planning/Rhythm Method -- have sex or use a barrier method on the days you are most fertile. These fertile days are about 5 days before and 3 days after ovulation, as well as the day of ovulation.
  • Barrier Methods -- This involves putting up a block, or barrier, to keep sperm from reaching the egg.
    • Contraceptive Sponge
    • Diaphragm, Cervical Cap, and Cervical Shield
    • Female Condom
    • Male Condom
  • Hormonal Methods -- Hormonal method prevents pregnancy by interfering with ovulation, fertilization, and/or implantation of the fertilized egg.
    • Oral Contraceptives — Combined pill (“The pill”)
    • Oral Contraceptives — Progestin-only pill (“Mini-pill”)
    • The Patch
    • Shot/Injection
    • Vaginal Ring
  • Implantable Devices
    • Implantable Rods
    • Intrauterine Devices -- This includes copper IUD or hormonal IUD.
  • Permanent Birth Control Methods -- This is for people who are sure they never want to have a child or they do not want more children
    • Sterilization Implant
    • Surgical Sterilization
  • Emergency Contraception -- Emergency contraception is used if a woman’s primary method of birth control fails. It should not be used as a regular method of birth control.

Advantages of using birth control

  • Oral contraception -- Apart from preventing unwanted pregnancy, it also regulates the menstrual cycle, decreases premenstrual symptoms and helps in certain skin conditions like acne.
  • Condoms -- It is effective in preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Condoms are inexpensive and easy to acquire. You do not require a prescription.
  • Diaphragms and cervical caps -- This does not interrupt the sex act if inserted well in time. Its presence is usually not felt by either partner during sexual intercourse.
  • IUDs -- These are effective and long term methods of birth control. They do not usually cause complications since they are inserted by a medical health professional. It does not interrupt regular sexual relations in any way.


  • Condoms -- Some people feel that the sensation dulls with the use of a condom
  • Diaphragms and cervical caps -- There may be difficulty in inserting the diaphragm. Moreover, in some positions, the diaphragm may get dislodged. A few complain of irritation on using the diaphragm..

Birth control and health

  • Some side effects associated with oral contraception are headaches, breast tenderness and discharge, weight increase, fatigue and mood swings.
  • Pregnancy that result from a failure when using spermicide protection is not associate with an incrased risk of fetal malformations.
  • The use of basal body temperature is the most effective type of periodic abstinence birth control.
  • All birth control pills with estrogen increase your risk of blood clots fourfold.

What can I do?

Before choosing a birth control method, think about:

  • Your overall health
  • How often you have sex
  • The number of sex partners you have
  • If you want to have children someday
  • How well each method works to prevent pregnancy
  • Possible side effects
  • Your comfort level with using the method


  • The use of the cervical cap and the diaphragm have similar failure rates or pregnancy rates.
  • There were approximately 6 million pregnancies in the United States during 1994. There were 3.9 million children born and 1.4 million elective abortions performed. Half of all the pregnancies were unwanted.
  • There is no significant increased risk of breast cancer in birth control pill users, even 10 years after stopping oral contraceptives.
  • The failure rates of the various forms of birth control range from 5% to 27% for the rhythm and withdrawal methods, between 0.1% to 3% for the oral contraceptives (OCPs) and the IUD, injection (Depo), and implants (Norplant) have a failure rate less than 1%.
  • Younger women, women with a lower level of education and women of a lower socioeconomic class have an increased risk of contraceptive failure rates.
  • The active ingredient in spermicides is usually nonoxynol 9, this chemical will kill the sperms on contact.


  • Birth Control Methods
  • Birth Control
  • Sexual Health Centre: Birth Control
  • Birth Control
  • History of Birth Control
  • Birth Control Timeline
  • Contraceptive Key Points and Facts

See Also