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Which contraceptive should you use?

You may be using birth control, but is it sometimes too much bother or too easy to forget? Contraceptives will only prevent unwanted pregnancies if they’re used properly and consistently. If you’re using a method that you forget to use, that has unwanted side effects, or that is difficult to use, you’re likely to stop using it or not to use it all the time. That’s why it’s important to use a method of birth control that suits you and your lifestyle.

When you’re thinking about what kind of contraceptive to use, make sure to consider all the details. Ask yourself questions such as:

  • Which will work best with my schedule and habits? (Which will I be least likely to forget?)
  • Are there extra health benefits?
  • Which have possible unwanted effects or features?
  • Am I protected against sexually transmitted diseases?
  • Which kind is the most appropriate for my current state of health or medical history?
  • How effective is it?

Surgery

For people who have no intention of having children in the future, surgery can be a viable option.

For men, the usual operation is a vasectomy. This operation involves cutting or blocking the tube that carries sperm from the testes to the penis. It can now be done in a very short time using local anaesthetic and requiring only a small puncture in the skin, with no stitches needed.

For women, the usual surgery is a tubal ligation: the fallopian tubes are cut, sealed, tied, or blocked, making a permanent barrier between sperm and egg. This is usually done via laparoscopy, using a small incision; the woman can normally go home the same day, but it is a more complicated operation than a vasectomy.

Both of these methods are designed to be permanent, but an operation called reanastomosis that unblocks or reconnects the tube(s) can restore fertility in roughly half of all cases.

Long-term options

Some forms of birth control last a long time and only have to be changed or used very infrequently. If you’re constantly on the go, if you don’t want the hassle of having to remember to take a birth control pill every day, and if you’re not planning on starting a family in the near future, these birth control options may suit you:

  • contraceptive patch (change weekly)
  • hormonal injection or implants (receive once every 3 months)
  • vaginal ring (change once a month)
  • progestin-releasing intrauterine devices (change once every 5 years)
  • copper intrauterine devices (change once every 5 years)

Pills

Perhaps the best-known kind of birth control is "the pill." It’s no longer just "the" pill – in fact, there are now many different kinds of birth control pills available. Some use a single hormone and some use a combination; some have low doses and some have high doses; some have a 28-day cycle of pills and some have 21 or 84 pills; and some have a 7-day period without pills, and others can have less. Talk to your doctor about which would be best for you. You may need to try a few before you find one you feel perfectly comfortable with.

And what about a pill for men? Research into a male birth control pill continues. Scientists in Great Britain have found a way to block the daily production of sperm and keep testosterone levels normal. Other major studies sponsored by the World Health Organization showed that high doses of testosterone were able to produce effects similar to the female birth control pill; however, there are unwanted side effects, so further study is required. In general, men will have to keep waiting for an option that will provide proven protection without undesirable side effects.

Barrier options

There are several kinds of birth control that work by keeping the sperm from reaching the egg. These normally have to be applied or inserted just before intercourse and removed shortly after it. They include:

  • diaphragm
  • cervical cap
  • vaginal sponge
  • male condom
  • female condom

Most of these come in several varieties, and it may be necessary to try a few of any given kind before you find one that has the right fit and sensation. Each has advantages and disadvantages. Sponges may be inserted hours before sex and removed hours after, for example, while condoms are the only kind of birth control that also offer reliable protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Whichever barrier option of birth control you chose to try, make sure that you are familiar and confident on its proper application and use. Your doctor and pharmacist are excellent educational resources for this sort of information.

Be aware that using oil-based products like luubricants, or other products like powders or perfumes may decrease the barrier method’s effectiveness or cause irritation. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any concerns.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2017. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/Contraception

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