The Other Word for Birth Control
The Decision About Contraception
Contraception is a word that is used to define the prevention of pregnancy and very often you'll hear it referred to as birth control. Today, there are many methods of contraception for both women and men. Some of them are reversible, some are not and overall, they fall into two main groups - barrier or hormonal. There are other methods as well, four them to be exact - surgical sterilization, withdrawal, natural family planning and abstinence.
Birth control considerations and decisions are as individual as the people making them, so you have to determine which method would be the best for you and your lifestyle. While most forms of contraception prevent pregnancy, there is a failure rate. If you are having symptoms of pregnancy, take a test to confirm it. It is also important to remember that none of the methods of birth control prevent the contracting of sexually transmitted diseases, so exercising caution in this area is highly recommended.
Old Fashion Methods
Now, let's look at the different methods of birth control and define them so you will have a basic understanding of what is available.
Abstinence as a method of birth control is the only 100% effective contraception available. It is the voluntary refraining from sexual activity. Not only does it prevent pregnancies, it also prevents the transmission of STDs.
Natural Family Planning or NFP uses your body's natural functions and your menstrual cycle to determine when ovulation will take place. Most commonly, recording your temperature first thing in the morning and noting changes in cervical mucus are the two main features used in this method. This type of birth control also requires a period of abstinence for between 7 to 10 days during which time many women use barriers (condoms) or withdrawal to prevent the delivery of sperm into the vagina.
Barrier Methods - From Condoms to Spermicides
The idea of barrier contraception is to use a physical or chemical barrier to stop the sperm from entering the uterus. The most common barrier contraception is the latex condom, which is used by the man. Women have a type of female condom available to them as well. It is a seven-inch long polyurethane pouch with rings which is inserted into the vagina prior to intercourse. This pouch covers the cervix, vaginal canal and the immediate area around the vagina. Another common barrier contraception is spermicide, which is a chemical that comes in the form of a jelly, foaming tablet or vaginal suppository and is designed to kill sperm on contact.
One popular form of a barrier type of birth control is the diaphragm, a woman's device which is also inserted into the vagina and placed over the cervix. It is to be used not more than three hours prior to intercourse. This soft rubber dome is filled with a spermicidal cream or jelly. A cervical cap, also placed inside the vagina, is made of plastic or latex and is also filled with spermicide. Last, there is the sponge, a soft saucer-shaped item made of foam which is inserted into the vagina.
Check out part two of this article for information on Hormonal types of birth control like the birth control pill.