Contraception

What is Contraception?

Contraception (also known as birth control) is a method or device used to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). There are several different kinds, each with their own varying effectiveness, ease of use, availability and side effects.

You can access contraception at a pharmacy, some clinics or at a Marie Stopes Clinic.

Types of Contraception

Hormonal

How Does It Work?

Currently, hormonal birth control is only available for women. It works by preventing women from ovulating [link to ovulation section of reproduction article here] and fertilisation (stopping an egg and sperm from fusing together). They are generally pretty good at preventing pregnancy if you use them correctly, but unfortunately they provide NO protection against STDs! Many people use a combination of methods (such as hormonal and barrier) to prevent both pregnancy and STDs.

What Forms Does It Come In?

The most common form of hormonal contraception is oral pills. Other types include implants under the skin, injections, patches, IUDs and a vaginal ring.

Advantages and Disadvantages:

Barrier

How Does It Work?

Barrier birth control is available for both men and women, but men’s barrier contraception is much more widely available and easy to get a hold of. Barrier contraception works by acting as a barrier between sperm and the uterus, preventing the sperm from entering, thus preventing pregnancy. It blocks many STDs in the same way – by blocking the physical pathways of STDs. Keep in mind that while it helps protect against STDs such as HIV/AIDS, it offers only limited or no protection against STDs such as HPV and crabs, whose physical pathways are more than what some barriers can protect.

What Forms Does It Come In?

The most common type of barrier contraception is the male condom. Other types include female condoms, cervical caps, diaphragms and contraceptive sponges with spermicide.

Advantages and Disadvantages:condom

Intrauterine Devices (IUDs)

How Does It Work?

There are two kinds of IUDs at the moment – a hormonal one and a copper one. While they are both intrauterine devices, they work in different ways. The hormonal one works in a similar way to other hormonal contraception, whereas the copper one works as a kind of spermicide, which disrupts and damages sperm, preventing it from joining with the egg. IUDs only protect against pregnancy however, and not against STDs!

You can get an IUD inserted at a Marie Stopes Clinic or at a private clinic.

What Forms Does It Come In?iud

A hormonal IUD and a copper IUD.

Advantages and Disadvantages:

Sterilisation

How Does It Work?

Sterilisation is a surgical form of contraception. It is available for both men and women – vasectomies for men and tubal ligation (tube tying) for women. This prevents eggs and sperm from reaching the rest of the reproductive system. These are generally considered permanent procedures, but it’s possible to attempt tubal and vasectomy reversals. Sterilisation protected against pregnancy, but not against STDs.

What Forms Does It Come In?

Tubal ligation for women and a vasectomy for men.

Advantages and Disadvantages:

Behavioural Methods

How Does It Work?

Behavioural methods of contraception work by regulating the timing or method of having sex to prevent sperm from entering a woman’s reproductive system, either entirely or when she has an egg present. Some only prevent pregnancy, while others also prevent STDs.

What Forms Does It Come In?

  • Fertility awareness – Determines when a woman is fertile and avoids sex on those days. Examples include the rhythm method. Several aspects can be tracked to determine fertility – tracking the menstrual cycle, monitoring basal body temperature, and monitoring cervical secretions. Does not protect against STDs.
  • Withdrawal – Also known as the “pull out method” or coitus interruptus, this involves a man withdrawing his penis fro a woman’s vagina before he comes. It is not a very good form of contraception, since it doesn’t protect against STDs and has a high failure rate for protecting against pregnancy. Some health care professionals don’t even consider it birth control!
  • Abstinence – Abstinence can take several forms. Either sex can be avoided entirely, or only vaginal sex can be avoided. Avoiding sex entirely can be 100% effective against pregnancy and STDs. Avoiding vaginal sex only is not effective in preventing STDs, but is mostly effective in preventing pregnancy, though it is still possible for sperm to reach the vagina and travel to the uterus in some circumstances.

Advantages and Disadvantages:

Emergency

How Does It Work?

Emergency Contraception is taken after other contraceptive methods have failed or were not used. They do not protect against STDs, but they will attempt to prevent pregnancy. There are two kinds of emergency contraception – hormonal pills and copper IUDs, and both work by disrupting or delaying ovulation and fertilisation. If emergency contraception becomes necessary to use, it should be used as soon as possible.

What Forms Does It Come In?

Two kinds – Emergency Contraceptive (hormone) Pills (EPCs), and copper IUDs.

Here is a list of ECPs available in South Africa.

You can access Emergency Contraception at a Pharmacy or at a Marie Stope Clinic.

Advantages and Disadvantages:

http://www.mariestopes.org.za/services/contraceptives

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Profile photo of Samantha Driver
Samantha Driver
Samantha: 25, gamer, metalhead, intersectual feminist, weight-lifting enthusiast, and lover of all things chocolate (except cheap Valentine's day chocolates, no one likes those). Passionate about women's issues and loves to play devil's advocate when she has the patience.

One Response to “Contraception”

  1. Profile photo of Ketiwe

    Ketiwe

    in Zim, contraception is as known as family planning meaning that it is intended for people planning a family and not horny teenage Tom, D**k and Harry’s. But since HIV is on the rise and teenagers are engaging in activities they shouldn’t be, i guess it is appropriate to educate them about it and make it available for them

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