Birth Control Options

Birth control is a part of life for many women. Just as there are differences in women, there are differences in options for birth control. Whether the reason for choosing birth control be the obvious one, to avoid getting pregnant, or for medical reasons such as regulating or limiting severe periods, doctors can offer many options where birth control is concerned.

When it comes to pregnancy, the only option for birth control that is 100 percent proven to protect from pregnancy is abstinence. Abstinence, or the choice to abstain from having sexual intercourse, may not be a choice some are willing to make. Still some couples choose other natural methods of birth control. Most commonly known as the rhythm method, natural birth control options involve responding to a woman’s body calendar. While there are natural birth control methods now other than the rhythm method, all forms involve abstaining from sex during a woman’s fertile time of each month. Methods involve following calendars and paying attention to a woman’s reproductive cycle signals, including body temperature and production of cervical mucus. Unfortunately, not all bodies follow a routine or produce the same signals, so these methods may not be ideal for all. Natural birth control methods do not offer protection from sexually transmitted disease.

The most common form of birth control is probably the condom. The condom, worn by the male partner, provides a latex barrier between a woman’s vagina and a man’s semen. While condoms do not provide 100 percent protection, they are available with different spermicidal lubricants that help with protection. Condoms are also the most easily obtained form of birth control, as they are offered over-the-counter in most drug, convenience and grocery stores. Condoms also offer protection from sexually transmitted diseases.

“The Pill” encompasses many brands of oral contraception that involve female hormone regulation. Other devices, such as a birth control patch and an inserted ring, provide protection via the use of hormones. These types of birth control require a medical prescription and should only be used under the supervision of a doctor. Oral contraception as well as birth control patches or rings do not protect from sexually transmitted diseases.

There are several long-term options for birth control, including the IUD, or intrauterine device. The IUD is inserted in the woman’s uterus, as implied by the name. The device, by use of hormones or by a hormone-free method, blocks the fertilization of the woman’s egg. Used properly, and IUD may last anywhere from five to 12 years. An IUD must be prescribed by a medical physician and does not protect against sexually transmitted disease.

More permanent options include tubal ligation for a woman or a vasectomy for a man. A tubal ligation, also known as getting one’s tubes tied, is a surgical procedure in which a woman’s fallopian tubes are cut and clamped to interrupt the travel of the egg from the ovary to the uterus. A vasectomy is the male version of the procedure that includes cutting the vas deferens, the tubes that carry the semen flow through the penis. Both procedures require a trained physician and neither is easily reversed. Surgical birth control options are best suited for individuals who have no intention of starting or increasing a family.

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