Birth Control Methods for Men & Women

Birth Control Methods for Men & Women
Credits: Redbook

Contraceptives are also called birth control or family planning methods. They help to prevent pregnancy that may occur following sexual intercourse. This article offers extensive information about different birth control methods for men and women.

There are different kinds of contraceptives and your choice of contraceptives might depend on a number of factors like;
– Your age
– How soon you plan to get pregnant
– Your relationship status
– Your personal preference

Contraceptives may be hormonal, barrier, or a combination of both. While many contraceptives are temporary, some are permanent.

Barrier methods

These work by preventing the sperm from meeting the egg and consequently preventing pregnancy.

Male condom

This is a thin sheath that covers the penis to collect sperm and prevent it from entering the woman’s body. Latex condoms, the most common type, help prevent pregnancy, HIV, and other STDs, as do the newer synthetic condoms.

“Natural” or “lambskin” condoms also help prevent pregnancy, but may not provide protection against STDs, including HIV. Condoms can only be used once. Do not use oil-based lubricants such as massage oils, baby oil, lotions, or petroleum jelly with latex condoms. They will weaken the condom, causing it to tear or break.

Female condom

A thin, flexible plastic pouch. A part of the condom is inserted into the vagina before intercourse to prevent sperm from entering the uterus. The uterus, or womb, is the place where the baby grows during pregnancy. Female condoms can also help prevent STDs. It is packaged with a lubricant and can be inserted up to eight hours before sexual intercourse.

Spermicide

A substance that can kill sperm cells. It comes in foam, jelly, cream, suppository, or film. You put it into the vagina at the entrance of the uterus. Spermicides can be used alone or with a diaphragm or cervical cap.

They are placed in the vagina no more than one hour before intercourse. You leave them in place at least six to eight hours after intercourse. You can use a spermicide in addition to a male condom, diaphragm, or cervical cap.

Diaphragm and cervical cap

These are flexible, cup-shaped objects that are placed inside the vagina to cover the cervix. They may be used with spermicide. They come in different sizes, so it’s important to see your healthcare provider to figure out which size works best for you.

Hormonal methods

Oral contraceptives

These are pills that a woman takes every day. They may contain both progestin and estrogen or just progestin.

Combined Oral Contraceptives – The Pill

Also called “the pill,” combined oral contraceptives contain the hormones estrogen and progestin. The combined oral contraceptive pill prevents pregnancy by preventing ovulation i.e. the release of eggs from the ovaries. It is prescribed by a doctor. A pill is taken at the same time each day. If you are older than 35 years and smoke or have a history of blood clots or breast cancer, your doctor may advise you not to take the pill.

Progestin-Only Pills – Mini pill

Another variant called the progesterone-only pill works by thickening the cervical mucous to block sperm and egg from meeting and also prevents ovulation. Unlike the combined pill, the progestin-only pill (sometimes called the mini-pill) only has one hormone, progestin, instead of both estrogen and progestin. It is prescribed by a doctor. It is taken at the same time each day. It may be a good option for women who can’t take estrogen.

Contraceptive patch

A patch that a woman puts on her skin each week. It releases hormones progestin and estrogen into the bloodstream. The hormones prevent the release of eggs from the ovaries (ovulation).
This skin patch is worn on the lower abdomen, buttocks, or upper body (but not on the breasts). This method is prescribed by a doctor. You put on a new patch once a week for three weeks. During the fourth week, you do not wear a patch, so you can have a menstrual period.

Vaginal ring

The ring releases the hormones progestin and estrogen which prevents the release of eggs from the ovaries (ovulation). You place the ring inside your vagina, where it continually releases hormones for three weeks. You wear the ring for three weeks, take it out for the week you have your period, and then put in a new ring.

Injectable birth control

An injection of a hormone that a woman gets once every three months. This is done in your doctor’s office.

Progestin-only injectables thicken cervical mucous to block sperm and egg from meeting and also prevent ovulation.

Monthly injectables or combined injectable contraceptives (CIC) prevent the release of eggs from the ovaries (ovulation). Women get shots of the hormone progestin in the buttocks or arm every three months from their doctor.

Implant

A single, thin rod that a provider inserts under the skin of a women’s upper arm. It is done in your provider’s office. The implant can last for four years. Implants thicken cervical mucous to block sperm and egg from meeting and prevent ovulation. The implant is a single, thin rod that is inserted under the skin of a women’s upper arm. The rod contains progestin that is released into the body over 3 years.

Long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs)

Intrauterine device (IUD)

The levonorgestrel IUD is a small T-shaped device like the Copper T IUD. It is placed inside the uterus by a doctor. It releases a small amount of progestin each day to keep you from getting pregnant. The levonorgestrel IUD stays in your uterus for up to 3 to 6 years, depending on the device.

Sterilization

Tubal ligation

A surgery that prevents a woman from getting pregnant. It is permanent. A woman can have her fallopian tubes tied (or closed) so that sperm and eggs cannot meet for fertilization. The procedure can be done in a hospital or in an outpatient surgical center. You can go home the same day of the surgery and resume your normal activities within a few days. This method is effective immediately.

Vasectomy

A surgery that prevents a man from getting someone pregnant. It is permanent.
This operation is done to keep a man’s sperm from going to his penis, so his ejaculate never has any sperm in it that can fertilize an egg. The procedure is typically done at an outpatient surgical center. The man can go home the same day. Recovery time is less than one week. After the operation, a man visits his doctor for tests to count his sperm and to make sure the sperm count has dropped to zero; this takes about 12 weeks. Another form of birth control should be used until the man’s sperm count has dropped to zero.

What are some other forms of pregnancy prevention?

There are some types of pregnancy prevention that do not involve medicines, devices, or surgery:

Other forms of pregnancy prevention

Fertility awareness-based methods

They are also called natural rhythm methods. They involve tracking the woman’s fertility cycle and avoiding sex or using barrier methods on the days when she is most likely to get pregnant. This method may have higher pregnancy rates than other types.

Lactational amenorrhea method (LAM)

A form of natural birth control for breastfeeding mothers. It relies on the new mother feeding her baby only breastmilk for up to six months and having no periods or spotting during that time. Prevents the release of eggs from the ovaries (ovulation)

Withdrawal Method

During intercourse, the penis is pulled out of the vagina before ejaculation. The goal is to keep sperm from entering the vagina. But the sperm can leak out before the penis is pulled out, so this method has higher failure rates than other types.

What is emergency contraception?

Emergency contraception is not a regular method of birth control. But it can be used to prevent pregnancy after unprotected intercourse or if a condom breaks. There are two types:

Emergency Contraception

Emergency contraception is NOT a regular method of birth control. Emergency contraception can be used after no birth control was used during sex, or if the birth control method failed, such as if a condom broke.

Copper IUD

This is a small, T-shaped device that a provider inserts into the uterus within 5 days of unprotected intercourse. The copper component damages sperm and prevents it from meeting the egg. This IUD is a small device that is shaped in the form of a “T.” Your doctor places it inside the uterus to prevent pregnancy. It can stay in your uterus for up to 10 years.

Emergency contraceptive pills (ECPs)

These are hormonal pills that the woman takes as soon as possible after unprotected intercourse. Prevents or delays the release of eggs from the ovaries. Pills are taken to prevent pregnancy up to 5 days after unprotected sex. Women can take emergency contraceptive pills up to 5 days after unprotected sex, but the sooner the pills are taken, the better they will work. There are three different types of emergency contraceptive pills available in the United States. Some emergency contraceptive pills are available over the counter.

What are the side effects of using some of these birth control methods for men and women?

The oral contraceptive pill is a hormonal method of preventing pregnancy. Side effects are common, and they vary from person to person. Since this pill is used by women, they are the ones affected by it.

The specific side effects vary widely among individuals, and different pills cause different side effects which include:

  • Spotting between periods
  • Nausea
  • Breast tenderness
  • Headaches and migraine
  • Weight gain
  • Mood changes
  • Missing periods
  • Decreased Libido
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Eye changes

Are there other risks associated with using contraceptives?

The pill may not be safe for people who:

  • have untreated hypertension
  • smoke and are over the age of 35 years
  • have a history of heart disease
  • have migraine with aura
  • have a history of breast cancer or endometrial cancer.

If you intend to use a contraceptive pill, it is advised to speak with your healthcare provider and run some health tests to assess which method is right for you. This will help avoid any risks and complications. Book a health test here and speak with a doctor for free.