For many men and women making love is part of a normal relationship. While intimacy can be a wonderful experience, the risk of an unplanned pregnancy can create stress and tension. The only absolute when it comes to pregnancy prevention is abstinence, but for couples who want to become intimate, several birth control options offer a significant amount of protection.
Abstinence provides the most protection from pregnancy as long as the couple uses common sense. This means that the penis cannot come into contact with the vagina. A women can become pregnant without penetration when she and the man become physically close and aroused while they are nude. Sperm can find its way into the vagina and fallopian tubes without true penetration. It is rare, but it can and has happened. To ensure 100 percent protection while you are using abstinence, keep the lower half of your body clothed.
Sterilization is the only permanent method of birth control. Sterilization procedures can be performed on men or women. In some cases, the procedure can be reversed if the couple decides it wants to have a child. A successful reversal, however, is never guaranteed.
Male condoms were the first method of contraception outside abstinence.
Their use has been traced back to 1,000 B.C., though the first published information about condoms followed a syphilis epidemic throughout Europe in the 1500s. An estimated 10.4 billion men worldwide used condoms in 2005, according to the United Nations Population Fund. Condoms are effective in preventing pregnancy approximately 90 percent of the time. In addition, they help prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. You place the condom at the end of an erect penis shortly before intercourse and roll it back until the entire penis is covered. To ensure the best possible effectiveness, be sure to use a recently purchased condom because condoms stored in wallets for a long time can become fragile and develop cracks. Condoms can also break during intercourse.
The female condom is used much less often than the male condom is used. It is a pouch made of polyurethane and is approximately 7 inches long. When placed properly, it covers the cervix, the vagina and the area surrounding the vagina.
Spermicides and Diaphragm
Spermicides are chemicals that kill sperm. Spermicides come in jelly, foaming tablets, jelly and a cream that goes into the vagina. A diaphragm is prescribed by your doctor. It is a dome-shaped soft rubber that covers a flexible ring and is placed just inside the vagina. You fill the diaphragm with spermicide before inserting the diaphragm to increase its effectiveness. The diaphragm must be placed within three hours of intercourse. A cervical cap is similar to a diaphragm in that it is placed inside the vagina. It is made of latex rubber or plastic and can also be filled with spermicide before placing.
An intrauterine device (IUD) is made of plastic with copper or hormones added. It is placed by your physician during a medical procedure and must be removed with a medical procedure. The IUD works by changing the uterus’s chemical make-up so that it is unlikely to support the implantation of a fertilized egg, thereby preventing pregnancy.
Birth Control Medications
As of 2010, several prescribed medications can be used for birth control. They can be used as a pill, shot, insertable ring or a patch. Some require daily ingestion, while others allow for an injection every 90 days, or a changing of a patch once a week. Each type of medication must be prescribed by a physician. You will be required to maintain medical appointments for check-ups. The effectiveness of these methods varies and depends on factors including compliance with dosing.
Withdrawal is when the male removes his erect penis from the vagina just before he ejaculates. This method is not highly reliable. Even before ejaculation, sperm can escape the body during the body’s normal reaction to intercourse.