Birth control is also termed as contraception or fertility control or family planning. It is the method of preventing unwanted pregnancies. There are various methods of birth control, few are safe and few may have risks and will not be suitable for everyone. Selection of birth control methods depends on your health status, age, frequency of intercourse, your and your partner preference, etc. It is advisable to consult your physician before adopting any method.
There are various types of contraception
- Temporary method– Barrier method, Hormonal method, Intrauterine method and Emergency method. It includes either the use of medications or device.
- Permanent method– Sterilisation.
Side Effects of Oral Contraceptives
- Oral Contraceptives can cause serious ill effects like Liver tumors, Liver cancer or blood clots.
- Acne and unusual hair growth.
- Weight gain or weight loss.
- Pain and tenderness in the breast.
- Nausea or vomiting.
- Abdominal cramps.
- Spotting and irregular/heavy bleeding.
Side Effects of IUDs (Intrauterine Devices)
- Pain in lower abdomen and pain during intercourse.
- More chances of infection and uterine perforation.
- Abnormal vaginal discharge and bleeding.
- Heavy bleeding during menstruation.
- Dislodgement of the device.
Natural Birth Control Method
The natural birth control method is a process of determining your fertile period and avoiding sexual intercourse during this period to prevent unwanted pregnancies. Fertile period is the ovulation period, where there are more chances of conception if sexual intercourse is done. Fertile period is estimated to be 10-18 days after the onset of menstruation in a woman with a regular menstrual cycle of 28-30 days.
Below are the methods to determine your fertile period:
- Rhythm method – It is also known as calendar method. In this method you need to record the length of your menstrual cycle for 6-12 months, counting from the first day of your period to the first day of your next period. Count the number of days in your shortest cycle and subtract 18 days. This number signifies the first fertile day of your cycle. Example- If your shortest cycle is 28 days, subtract 18- which is 10. Similarly, subtract 11 days from your longest cycle. If your longest cycle is 32 days, subtract 11- which is 21. So, 21 st day of your cycle is your last fertile day. To prevent pregnancy, you need to avoid unprotected sex during these fertile days. In this example, you need to avoid unprotected sex from 8th day to 21st day of the menstrual cycle.
- Basal body temperature method – It is based on the fact that your body temperature drops by 0.5 to 1 degree 12- 24 hours prior to ovulation and increases again once the egg is released. You have to record your body temperature every morning before you get out of your bed and avoid intercourse from the day you notice the drop in temperature until 72 hours after your temperature increases again.
- Cervical mucus examination – Ovulation is determined by observing the changes in your cervical mucus. Just before ovulation, your cervical mucus will be more in quantity, slippery, clear and stretchy, appear like a raw egg white. Avoid intercourse 3- 4 days after you notice this change in cervical mucus.
Advantages of Natural Birth Control Method
- Cost effective.
- No need of hospital visit or doctor's assistance.
- No side effects on your health.
Disadvantages of Natural Birth Control Method
- It is very difficult to estimate the fertile period precisely in women having irregular cycles.
- Sometimes the natural method may not be as effective as other contraceptives and may result in unplanned conception.
Along with above natural methods using a condom is the best and safest method to avoid unwanted pregnancies.
If you have children and don’t want to have more kids, sterilisation (tubectomy for women or vasectomy for men) is the ideal option.