Alternate Names : Contraception, Family Planning
Birth control refers to a conscious decision that sexually active couples make to prevent unwanted pregnancy. The decision may result from personal situations or medical conditions.
What is the information for this topic?
Some forms of birth control
keep the sperm from fertilizing an egg. Other forms keep the fertilized egg from being implanted. The couple may consider these factors when choosing birth control:
Natural family planning methods
Many couples choose a natural method because of religious or personal beliefs. Some natural family planning methods are as follows:
Withdrawal, or coitus interruptus. The penis is withdrawn from the vagina before the male ejaculates. This method has a high failure rate because sperm may enter the vagina before the penis is
Douching after sex. This involves flushing the vagina with a liquid. This method is not very effective. Many sperm continue up to the ovary and can fertilize the egg.
The rhythm method. This means a woman avoids sex
during the middle of her menstrual
cycle. This method has a high failure rate. It should only be used by women who have regular, predictable cycles.
Breastfeeding. This method is not entirely reliable in preventing pregnancy. A backup method of birth control, such as a condom, should be used.
Traditional barrier methods
Barrier methods use physical or chemical blocks to keep sperm from
fertilizing the woman's egg. These methods include the following:
Condoms, or synthetic sheaths. Male condoms cover the penis and keep semen
from going into the vagina. Female condoms cover the external genitals and the walls of the vagina.
Spermicides. These are chemicals that kill the sperm in the vagina. They come in the form of jellies, foams, creams, films, or suppositories.
A diaphragm. This is a flexible rubber cap that is placed inside the vagina.
A cervical cap. This is smaller than a
diaphragm and covers the cervix.
Combinations of female hormones can be used to prevent pregnancy. These
contraceptives, or birth control pills, which prevent ovulation
progestin-only birth control pills, or minipills, which do not
progestin implants, which are small plastic rods that are placed beneath
the skin to supply small daily doses of hormones
injections of synthetic progestins, which are hormones given every 3
monthly injections of progestin and estrogen in combination
devices, or IUDs, are
placed in the uterus. They keep the fertilized egg from being implanted. IUDs
have been linked with an increased risk of sexually transmitted disease. They can also increase the risk for pregnancy outside the
Surgery can be performed on a man or woman to prevent pregnancy. A vasectomy in a male
involves cutting and
tying off the tubes that carry sperm. A tubal
ligation in a woman involves cutting and tying off the fallopian tubes.
Surgical removal of the uterus, or
hysterectomy, also causes sterilization.
Emergency contraception means birth control that is given after unprotected intercourse
has taken place. Hormones can be given over a 24-hour
within 72 hours of the unprotected sex. Another method uses an
IUD. This is placed into the
woman's uterus within 5 days after unprotected sex.
Abstinence, or the avoidance of sexual intercourse, is the only fully
effective way to prevent pregnancy.