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Today in Health & Wellness
HEALTH CONDITIONS

Birth Control

Overview
Commonly Prescribed Drugs
Treatment and Management
Doctors to Consult
Overview

Contraception or birth control involves methods that are used to prevent pregnancy. The level of effectiveness of the contraceptive that a woman uses will depend on the type of method chosen and whether or not it is being used correctly. No contraceptive is 100% reliable and some can have side effects. Individual preferences and circumstances will determine which method will be most suitable to an individual. After proper counseling and arriving at a well-thought decision, any woman who wishes to use a contraceptive should be made available to her as long as there are no contraindications to its use.

Listed are the different contraceptive methods currently available:

Symptoms
Risk Factors
Commonly Prescribed Drugs

Hormonal Methods

  • Oral Contraceptives. Popularly known as birth control pills or simply "the pill" are a combination of estrogen and a progestin or a progestin alone. These are taken once daily for 3 weeks, then followed by a single week of taking inactive tablets.
    • Contraindications for oral contraceptives:
      1. Cigarette smoking
      2. Women over 35 years old
      3. Liver disorder
      4. High cholesterol levels
      5. High blood pressure
      6. Uncontrolled diabetes
      7. Kidney disorders
      8. Deep vein thrombosis
      9. Coronary artery disease
      10. Stroke
      11. History of cholestasis and/or jaundice while on oral contraceptives
      12. Breast or uterine cancer
      13. Abnormal vaginal bleeding
      14. Systemic lupus erythematosus
      15. Pregnancy
  • Skin Patches and Vaginal Rings. The contraceptive skin patch is used 3 weeks out of 4, where no contraceptive patch is used in the 4th week. A vaginal ring is a plastic device that is placed in the vagina and left there for 3 weeks and removed for 1 week. Both skin patches and vaginal rings contain estrogen and progestin.
  • Contraceptive Implants. These are rods that contain a progestin and placed under the skin of the inner arm. The implants release progestin into the bloodstream and are effective for 3 years.
  • Contraceptive Injections. These are medroxyprogeterone acetate injections given every 3 months.
  • Emergency contraception. Also known as the morning-after pill is a combination of synthetic hormones given to a woman who has had unprotected sexual intercourse or whose contraceptive method failed in some way (e.g. breaking of condom).

Barrier Methods

  • Condoms. These at thin sheaths made either of latex, polyutherane, and lamb skin used to cover the penis to prevent the semen from spilling into a woman's vagina during intercourse.
  • Diaphragm and cervical cap. A diaphragm is a rubber cup with a flexible rim that is placed over the cervix to prevent the sperm from entering the uterus. The cervical cap is similar to the diaphragm but is more rigid and smaller in size.
  • Contraceptive sponge. Contains spermicide and also block sperm from entering the uterus.

Spermicides

  • Vaginal foams, creams, suppositories, and gels that contain spermicides are placed in the vagina before sexual intercourse to kill the sperm on contact and prevent pregnancy. Spermicides are typically used together with barrier contraceptives.

Intrauterine Devices

  • IUD's are small plastic T-shaped devices that are placed in the uterus that prevent pregnancy by killing sperm, preventing fertilization of the egg, and preventing a fertilized egg from implantation in the uterus. IUD's are usually left between 5 to 10 years.

Timing Methods

  • Natural Family Planning Methods. Involve refraining from sexual intercourse during the time of the month when a woman is fertile or most likely to get pregnant. Methods in Natural Family planning include the Calendar Method, Temperature Method, Mucus Method and Symptothermal Method.
  • Withdrawal before ejaculation

Sterilization

  • This involves a procedure called vasectomy in men and tubal ligation in women and takes away a person's ability to reproduce.

Abortion

  • Intentional ending of a pregnancy through surgical evacuation or drugs.
Treatment and Management

Common side effects of various contraceptives:

  • Irregular bleeding
  • No monthly bleeding
  • Headaches
  • Tension headache
  • Stroke
  • Nausea, vomiting, constipation
  • Breast tenderness
  • Weight change
  • Mood changes or changes in libido
  • Acne
  • Unexplained vaginal bleeding
Home Remedies
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