A Guide To Different Contraception Methods

By: Dominic Ochoa

Unwanted pregnancies are all too common and are not confined to teenagers and young adults. Even women in their 30s, whether married or single, may find themselves weighed down0020by an unplanned pregnancy. Fortunately, there are safe, effective ways to prevent conception and ensure pregnancies occur only when desired.

Hormonal methods

Hormonal methods refer to regulating hormones to suppress ovulation. Contraceptive pills are a common and popular example. A pill is taken at the same time each day a day for 21 days followed by one pill-free week or a week of sugar pills. A new cycle of pills is taken once the weekends.

Contraceptive pills are either of two types progestin-only (POP) and combined oral contraceptive (COC). POP contains only progestogens, suitable for smokers, women with high BP, a history of blood clots and migraine headaches. While effective at preventing pregnancy, COCs have side effects and contraindications in women suffering from the stated conditions. Breakthrough bleeding is a common complaint as is amenorrhea (absence of menstrual period) during the first year. However, COCs can help improve certain conditions like PMS, anemia, dysmenorrhea (menstrual pain) and pelvic inflammatory disease.

Contraceptive patches are another option. They're applied to the skin and release progestin and estrogen to prevent pregnancy. A prescription is needed to purchase them. Like pills, patches have side effects but show up differently. The most common complaints are breast discomfort/pain and engorgement, nausea, cramps, abdominal pain and application site irritation. Most side effects decrease a few months into use.

Barrier methods

Barrier methods involve using tools to physically prevent pregnancy. Male condoms and diaphragms are popular. Female condoms are a less used method.

Male condoms, typically made of polyurethane or latex, cover the penis to prevent sperm from entering the vagina. Diaphragms, used by women, are inserted into the vagina to block the entry of sperm. The same method of action applies to female condoms which are larger than male condoms. All three reduce the risk of contracting and spreading STDs.

Cervical caps are smaller than diaphragms and are less rigid. Contraceptive sponges are another. They're filled with spermicide and inserted into the vagina.


A mostly irreversible set of surgical procedures, sterilization prevents women from ovulating and men from releasing sperm. It's the only foolproof method of preventing pregnancy but does not prevent STDs and HIV/AIDS.

The procedure for men, called a vasectomy, prevents sperm from being released by cutting, closing or blocking the vas deferens, a duct that enables sperm to move from the testes into the urethra. It can take up to three months for the procedure to be effective so a secondary form of contraception is required to bridge the waiting period.

For women, one of two procedures are applied tubal ligation and sterilization implants. Tubal ligation is the cutting, tying or sealing of the fallopian tubes to prevent sperm from reaching the egg. Sterilization implants are nonsurgical but effective. An insert is placed into the fallopian tubes and scar tissue forms around it to prevent the entry of sperm. Like vasectomy, the procedure takes up to three months to be effective so backup contraception is required.

A quick consultation with a doctor can help you decide what type of contraception method is safe for you. Whether temporary or permanent, they drastically cut down the number of unwanted pregnancies and abortions.

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Abortion clinics offer a safe and simple day-surgery procedure that may be used at various gestations according to state legislation. The procedure uses gentle suction to remove the pregnancy from the uterus. Click here for additional details.

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