Contraception Strategies

Taking a step into having (or not having) a family is a big decision, and therefore it is advisable for some planning to take place. Your choice of contraception should base on certain factors which include your personal health, frequency of sexual activity, number of sexual partners and the desire to have children in the future with the preferred gap between pregnancies.

Including abstinence, there are many different contraception applications and methods that are in the market. But, which ones do you choose that are suitable for you, and which ones also protect against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)?

In this article, we will debunk some contraception myths with some additional knowledge and advice you should know about the benefits and risks before you decide to take some common contraceptive measures.

Most Popular Method: “The Pill”, Period and Pregnancy

Birth control pills are a type of hormonal contraception that is consumed orally. If used accurately and in the proper constant consumption, the pill can be 99% effective.

There are two main types: Combination pills and progestin-only pills. The usual combination type emits two naturally-occurring hormones – estrogen and progestin to stop sperm from fertilizing an egg by stopping ovulation. The hormones also thicken cervix mucus, meaning it is more difficult for the sperm to get to the egg. Progestin-only pills contain no estrogen are for women who are sensitive to estrogen.

Here are some of the functions of birth control pills depending on the type and amount of consumption:

– Delay/ stop/ improve menstrual cycles (less bleeding and cramps);

– Prevent bleeding for three months at a time or for as long as a year;

– May slightly increase your blood pressure;

– Can affect your cholesterol levels but don’t affect your overall health;

– Decreased risk of certain types of cancer, including ovarian cancer and endometrial cancer;

– Protection from ovarian cysts.

Birth control pills aren’t recommended for women aged 35 or older, if you smoke because of the risk of cardiovascular disease. You will need to quit smoking before you can safely continue using birth control pills.

Should you stop taking the pill, most women will ovulate again after about two weeks and you can get pregnant. However, you may not have a period at all if this happens during your first cycle off the pill. Use a pregnancy test if you have had unprotected sex while off the pill.

Birth control pills have little evidence that they can cause birth defects. In relations to that, we advise for you to stop taking the pill once you know that you are pregnant.

Discuss and clarify additional details with a healthcare professional at WhatsDoc before deciding on contraceptive pills.

mentrual cycle natural pregnancy prevention

Different methods for different preferences

Other general methods of contraception include:

a) Barrier: Physical interference by keeping the egg and sperm apart;

b) Hormonal: Changing the balance of hormones and regulates/ stops ovulation; thickens the cervical mucus to hinder sperm transport/ function;

c) Intrauterine Device (IUDs): Insertion of small devices (shaped like a ‘T’) into the uterus to change the conditions in the cervix and uterus for pregnancy prevention and/or inhibiting the transit of sperm from the cervix to the fallopian tubes; and last but not least

d) Sterilization: Surgical procedures that disables the reproductive system, which includes (i) making a woman permanently unable to get pregnant and (ii) making a man unable to get a woman pregnant.

   Contraceptive MethodFeaturesProtection against STDApplication
Barrier– Condoms- Diaphragm- Cervical Cap- Contraceptive Sponge– Safe, non-hormonal- Prevents some STIs and allied conditionsCondoms – Yes Diaphragm, Cervical Cap, Contraceptive Sponge – Noa) Condom (Male): made to fit over a man’s erect penis before penetration.b) Condom (Female): covers the perineal area and has a rolled up sheath which is pushed into the vagina during intercourse.c) Diaphragm: a soft, flexible, dome-shaped latex cup that fits inside your vagina and prevents sperm passing through the cervix (the entrance of your womb).d) Cervical Cap: used in conjunction with a spermicide and fits over the cervix and blocks sperm from entering the uterus through the external orifice of the uterus.e) Contraceptive Sponge: a soft, disk-shaped device made of polyurethane foam that contains spermicide inserted in the vagina before sex.
Hormonal– Combined oral contraceptives (COCs) or also known as “the pill”- Contraceptive patch (“the patch”)- Vaginal ring– Regulates menstrual cycles- Makes periods less painful- Reduces risks of ovarian cysts and uterine cancer- Relieve symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)Noa) The Pill: By regular consumption/ based on your preferred schedule.b) The Patch: Stick the patch directly onto your skin, it releases a daily dose of hormones through the skin into the bloodstream to prevent pregnancy.c) Vaginal Ring: One ring provides contraception for a month, gently insert the ring’s tip into your vagina and gently push the ring up until it feels comfortable.
Intrauterine Device (IUDs) – 2 types (Hormonal / Copper)– Lasts a long time.- Mostly hassle-free. Once you have one inserted, you don’t have to think about it, and neither does your partner.- One upfront costNoInserted and removed by a healthcare professional, can be used for 3–5 years depending on implant; irregular vaginal bleeding common but not harmful
Sterilization– Permanent form of pregnancy prevention.- Can work for both men (vasectomy) and women (tubal ligation)- IrreversibleNoa) Vasectomy: Requires cutting and sealing or blocking the vas deferensb) Tubal Ligation: The fallopian tubes are cut, tied, clamped, banded or sealed shut.
emergency contraception pregnancy safety and side effects

Emergency Contraception

Should you require immediate contraception after unprotected sexual intercourse and when standard contraceptives fail or no method was used, emergency contraception methods are available.

There are two main types of emergency contraception: emergency contraceptive pills (ECPs) and copper ‘T’ IUD.

a) ECPs are not intended to be used regularly as a contraceptive. These are recommended for use within 5 days after unprotected sex but are more effective the sooner they are used.

b) A copper ‘T’ IUD is inserted within five days (120 hours) after unprotected sex.

Importance of your Current and Future Health Condition

We know choosing a contraception method can be overwhelming, and you need to consider the potential risks for all methods that may affect your health condition.

Your health is very important, so take the time to weigh out all possible options before you make this significant decision. Remember to always consult your healthcare provider who can assist you to select the best form of birth control for you.

WhatsDoc’s panel of healthcare professionals are available for your enquiries and advice to fuel your curiosity. Make an appointment on our secured platform, committed to maintain your privacy!

References:

1. Reproductive Health: Contraception

2. Birth Controle pill: Risks and benefits

3. Contraception Guide 

4.Birth Controle pills

5. Birth control pill FAQ: Benefits, Risks, and Choices