What Does Birth Control Do?

There are many different methods of birth control that people use to ensure that they do not get surprised by an unplanned pregnancy. Each of these methods has a common goal but works in a slightly different way. There are some methods that are more convenient than others and there are also some that are more effective than others. There are a number of factors involved in making the decision of which type of birth control to use. Budget is a major consideration as there are some methods of birth control that are more reliable and also last for a lot longer but some of them are pricier. In addition, not all forms of birth control are effective in preventing the spread of transmittable diseases. Following are some of the different forms of birth control and some information on how each of them work.

Barrier Methods

Barrier methods of birth control include anything that blocks the sperm from entering the cervix. Barrier birth control devices are male condoms, female condoms, diaphragms, sponges, cervical caps and IUDs. The male condom is the most popular of the barrier methods because it also helps prevent sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV. It is important to remember that not all barrier methods of birth control work in that way. A diaphragm, cervical cap, female condom, IUD and female sponge will not help to stop the spread of STDs. Condoms are usually the most affordable method of birth control and are almost always the most readily available. IUD devices may seem costly as they are often about $1000 upfront but they last anywhere from 5 to 10 years so they are actually quite economical when that is taken into consideration. These contraceptive devices must be inserted by a doctor. Diaphragms and cervical caps must also be fitted properly and prescribed by a physician.

Oral Contraceptives

Oral contraceptives, also known as birth control pills are tablets that are taken on a daily basis in order to prevent pregnancy. There are a couple of different types of birth control pills, some of them contain estrogen and progestin and others contain only progestin. They work by altering a woman’s reproductive function and stopping ovulation. They also have other functions such as thickening the mucous that protects the cervix and thinning out the lining of the uterus to stop eggs from being able to embed themselves there. The type of oral contraceptive prescribed will be determined by a qualified gynecologist and the decisions will be made based on the needs of the individual. The downfall of taking oral contraceptives is that you must remember to take them religiously. Missing just one dose could actually be enough to cause them to be faulty and thereby result in an unwanted pregnancy. One thing that many women like about oral contraceptives is the fact that a woman may get pregnant almost immediately after discontinuing use. This makes them ideal for couples who would in fact like to have a baby at some point in time.

Contraceptive Shots

The birth control shot, commonly known as the Depo shot is an intramuscular shot that lasts about 3 months. It contains the same sort of synthetic hormones that can be found in most oral birth control pills. These shots are effective immediately when given, the only problem is it is suggested that women have a routine pregnancy test prior to having the shot done. This is because there is always the risk that a pregnancy will go undetected until something such as fetal movement becomes apparent. Many people enjoy the convenience of this shot as it only has to be given once every 12 weeks. This makes the occasion for an error or a missed dose of birth control much less likely. These shots also work in the same way that oral contraceptives work as they stop ovulation from occurring. The difference is they also limit the amount of menstrual periods a woman will have to about 4 per year. This is an excellent choice for women who suffer from heavy or extremely painful periods.

Contraceptive Patches

The patch is also a very popular choice among women of all ages as it offers continuous protection for a period of three weeks in a row. These patches work by releasing hormones slowly into the body to stop ovulation and alter other aspects of the reproductive system, such as thickening cervical mucous and thinning out the lining of the uterus. One thing that some women do not like about the patch is the appearance. If it is summer time or if someone lives in a tropical climate and tends to dress scantly much of the time the patch can be unattractive to look at. In addition, because it only lasts for 3 weeks before it needs to be changed; many women prefer longer forms of protection such as those offered from the IUD or from the Depo shot.

Aside from the above mentioned methods of birth control there are also spermicidal foams and creams that can be used in conjunction with any one of the methods mentioned above for maximum protection. It is not usually recommended that spermicidal foams be used independently as a sole means of protection but they are a great addition to barrier methods of birth control. The method of birth control that you choose should be thought out carefully and you should always take things into consideration like what the long term effects of each may be. For example, there are some forms of birth control that are only suggested for women who have already had children as they come with a risk of infertility after long term use. Speak with your doctor about the option that he/she thinks is best for you and your circumstances. Remember to tell your doctor if you have any underlying medical conditions that may pose a problem while taking some form of birth control.

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