There must have been a time in your life when you prayed for your menstrual period to come on time. You keep thinking back to that particular day when you forgot to measures to protect yourself. The last thing you need now in your life is an unwanted pregnancy. The trials of caring for an infant when you are neither emotionally nor financially prepared for can cause a lot of problems, not only for the surprised parents but for the child too. This is why there is a massive need to take precautions so as to ensure that you do not find yourself in such a situation.
Types Of Birth Control Methods For Men and Women
There are two main routes of birth control that you can rely on to avoid getting pregnant.
This birth control method prevents the ovum from getting fertilized by the sperm
This is known as emergency contraception. It is the morning-after pill that prevents the fertilized egg from implanting into your uterine wall 
Although contraceptive and birth control measures have been used since time immemorial, it was only by the 20th century that effective and safe methods were devised. And, it isn’t just women who use contraceptive devices to prevent pregnancy. Though women have a number of options that they can choose from, birth control methods do extend to men as well.
[ Read: Precautions To Avoid Pregnancy ]
Birth Control for Men
Since birth control is a concern for both males and females, there are certain options, albeit fewer, that men can resort to as well. Male birth control include:
Outercourse usually refers to sexual intercourse without penetration, whether it is anal, oral or vaginal. However, for some, it refers to sexual intercourse that excludes vaginal penetration . This prevents pregnancy by ensuring the sperm does not enter the vagina. Though it is found to be very effective, the possibility of pregnancy occurring does exist if pre-ejaculate or semen is spilled on the vulva and the sperms then make their way into your vagina. By engaging in outercourse, you will also reduce the risk of developing HIV/AIDS.
The reason many people choose outercourse is because, unlike many other birth control methods, this does not have any side effects or cause any hormonal changes. Instead, it helps make sex last longer and also provides you and your partner a chance to better understand your bodies. Having sex without intercourse helps you learn to have orgasms as a woman’s sexual response cycles work differently from men. The only drawback is you and your partner may find it hard to abstain from intercourse after being stimulated.
Used by everyone, condoms protect you and your partner from contracting STDs as they limit skin-to-skin contact. These thin, stretchy pouches of latex are worn on the penis and are easy to get and use. It works by collecting semen during sex, thereby preventing it from reaching the egg.
Using condoms when having oral, anal or vaginal sex will reduce your chances of contracting STDs because bodily fluids will not come into contact with one another . However, what most people are unaware that condoms aren’t only for men.
Women too can use condoms on the vulva for safer oral sex. All you need to do is cut up the condom, open it and lay it on the vulva. There are also certain condoms created exclusively for women birth control methods. They are worn inside the vagina or anus and are sometimes referred to as internal condoms.
The only drawback is that condoms take some getting used to and putting them on can, sometimes, spoil the mood. However, you can avoid this with enough practice. Once you master the art of wearing a condom, you will be able to put it on efficiently so that you can even include it as part of the foreplay.
[ Read: Depo-Provera Birth Control Shot ]
In the withdrawal method, the man gets his penis out of the vagina before ejaculation. Also known as coitus interruptus or the pull-out method, it is one of the oldest methods of birth control . Pulling the penis out before ejaculation prevents the sperm from entering the vagina, thereby making pregnancy an impossibility.
However, to follow the pull-out method, men need to be aware when they are reaching the point where ejaculation can no longer be postponed or stopped. If this prediction is not accurate then the possibility of getting pregnant looms large over your head.
In some cases, unfortunately, pregnancy occurs even when a man pulls out in time. It is believed that pre-ejaculation can pick up the sperm left in the urethra from a previous ejaculation to cause pregnancy. One way of preventing this from happening is by urinating between ejaculations before having sex again. This will clear the urethra off the sperm, increasing the effectiveness of the pull-out method.
There are a couple of risks associated with using only withdrawal as a birth control method. These include:
- It should not be used by men who ejaculate prematurely or don’t know when to pull out
- Lack of self-control and experience makes is an inefficient birth control method for men
- Using withdrawal wrongly will certainly not work for you
This is a permanent method of birth control for men, and it is nearly 100 percent effective. This surgical procedure involves closing or blocking off the vas deferens tubes in men that are responsible for carrying sperm . Thus, the sperm is unable to leave the man’s body. Instead of being ejaculated, the sperm is absorbed by the body.
There are two different ways of getting a vasectomy done. One method involves an incision. This procedure usually takes about 20 minutes whereas the other method which does not require any incision can be done in a shorter period of time.
- The Incision Method – This procedure involves making an incision on either side of the scrotum to reach the tubes that carry sperm. The tubes are then blocked with the help of surgical clips or are tied up. Sometimes, a small portion of the tube may be cut off.
- No-Incision Method – In this method, the doctor does not cut the skin of your scrotum. The doctor reaches the tubes by making a tiny puncture in the scrotum, and then the tubes are tied off or blocked. The puncture heals quickly, without much ado. This method does not require stitches, decreases the chances of bruising and infection, and leaves no scars.
Vasectomy is a safe procedure, and if you have already decided that you do not want to have children in future, this is the best birth control method for you. It will enable you to enjoy sex without the risk of your partner getting pregnant. Getting a vasectomy will not affect your chances of having an erection or performing sexually. It does not alter your hormones and sexuality, and sex organs will certainly not be affected by it.
However, this method does not provide instant effectiveness. You need to use other birth control measures until the sperm that is still present beyond the blocked tubes gets used up. This takes about three months. Get a semen analysis done to make sure that there are no more sperm in the tubes.
These are some of the birth control methods for men. By following one of these methods, you will certainly reduce the risk of impregnating your partner.
[ Read: Calculate Safe Period To Avoid Pregnancy ]
Birth Control for Women
Although the method of abstinence applies to men as well as women, there are certain other well-known female birth control methods that can be used to avoid getting pregnant. Some of these are mentioned below.
1. Birth Control Pills:
There are a number of advertisements advising women to use birth control pills if they do not wish to get pregnant. This is because these pills, which you have to take daily, are very effective in warding off pregnancy.
There are different kinds of birth control pills. Some of them contain estrogen and progestin while others contain only progestin. Most women take the ones with both hormones, and are called combination pills.
Birth control pills work in the same manner as the implant in preventing pregnancy from taking place. You need to take the combination pills every day at any time, but you have to take the progestin-only pills at the same time every day. So if you don’t do this correctly, the pills will not be completely effective in preventing unwanted pregnancy.
Avoid birth control pills when:
- You have uncontrolled high blood pressure
- You have issues with your heart valve or liver problems
- You have vein inflammation
- You are being treated for blood clots
- You have had an organ transplant and have experienced complications following that procedure
Always check the birth control pills you use as some of them have a greater risk of developing blood clots than others and may cause health problems. So make sure your doctor is aware of all your health conditions when you decide to start using the pill.
Advantages Of Birth Control Pills:
- It reduces menstrual cramps
- Protects you from pelvic inflammatory disease
- Your periods become lighter
Whereas, the combination pill protects women from acne, cysts in the breasts and ovaries, ectopic pregnancy, iron deficiency, heavy periods and a whole lot of other stuff. Combination pills help determine when and how often you have your period.
[ Read: Birth Control Patch ]
2. Birth Control Patch:
This is a thin, plastic patch that women use to prevent pregnancy. The patch contains hormones estrogen and progestin which serve to prevent the eggs from leaving the ovaries. It also prevents the sperm from getting to the egg by thickening the cervical mucus. It, however, will not protect you from sexually transmitted infections so you should use a latex or female condom to reduce this possibility.
Known to be very effective, you will get the best results when you place it on the skin at the right time so that the right level of hormones is maintained in your body. Sometimes, the patch is less effective for overweight people. Hence, consult your healthcare provider before deciding to opt for this method of birth control.
The main advantages of using this patch are that it is safe and convenient. Some women have claimed that it enabled them to be more spontaneous thereby improving their sex life. You need not worry about having children later as your ability to get pregnant will return as soon as you stop using the patch. Women who used the patch also witnessed regular, shorter and lighter menstruation and after stopping, it takes around one to two months for your periods to return to their normal cycle.
The only disadvantage is that sometimes you may experience certain side effects, like:
- Breasts becoming tender
- Bleeding between periods
- Irritation at the location of the patch
- Nausea and vomiting 
Most women start using the patch within five days of starting their period. However, to avoid the possibility of getting pregnant, it is best to consult your doctor. He will tell you the right time to begin using it.
3. Fertility Awareness-Based Methods:
Fertility-based methods help women track their ovulation. A woman is most fertile at the time of ovulation. This method allows women to stay away from vaginal intercourse during those days or make use of a condom, a patch or some other birth control method.
There are different types of fertility-awareness methods:
- Cervical mucus method – This method keeps track of your cervical mucus for a couple of days till you have ovulated
- Temperature method – This method requires taking your temperature in the morning when you get out of bed
- Calendar method – Charting your cycle on a calendar can help you determine when you are ovulating
The only drawback is that this method may not be effective if you have multiple sex partners, if they aren’t as committed to fertility awareness methods as you are, or if you fail to keep proper track of the days you ovulate.
4. Birth Control Implant:
This is a plastic implant that is thin and small, and inserted under the skin of the upper arm. It protects you from getting pregnant for up to three years. According to scientific studies, less than 1 out of every 100 women in a year has become pregnant after using birth control implants.
The birth control implant works by releasing progestin, which prevents the eggs from leaving the ovaries. It also causes your cervical mucus to thicken, preventing sperm from getting to the eggs. But as effective as this implant is, it will not protect you from sexually transmitted diseases.
There are many reasons why women favor birth control implants over other types of female birth control methods. Some of these reasons include:
- The ability to become pregnant returns very soon after you stop using the implant
- You get long-lasting birth control without the use of sterilization
- You don’t have to do anything on a daily basis to prevent pregnancy. There is no need to take any medication or put anything on just before intercourse
- Breastfeeding women too can use it without worries
However, studies show some women experience side effects on using the implant. Hence, you need to talk to your doctor and see if the implant is right for you. Some serious side effects that may surface if the implant is not working well with your body include:
- A lump in your breast
- Sudden stopping of period
- Bleeding, pain or redness in the place it was inserted
- Heavy or prolonged vaginal bleeding
Inserting the implant takes just a few minutes, and you can get the doctor to remove it at any point in time by making a small incision or cut in that area. It is effective for three years after inserting, so you should take it out after this period and use a new one.
[ Read: Birth Control Ring ]
5. Emergency Contraception:
Emergency contraception is also known as the morning-after pill. It is the surest way of preventing pregnancy after you have had unprotected sex. If you weren’t using any birth control at the time of intercourse, you may want to use this birth control method for women.
It works up to five days of unprotected sex. So, if your partner didn’t pull out on time or if his condom broke or slipped off during intercourse, this is the best solution for you.
After having sex, it can take up to six days for the sperm to come in contact with the egg. So this pill works by keeping a woman’s ovary from releasing an egg longer than usual, thereby preventing fertilization.
Types Of Emergency Contraception
There are two kinds of emergency contraception that you, the woman, can use to prevent unwanted pregnancy.
a. Emergency Contraceptive Pills:
Emergency contraceptive pills work by preventing the sperm from joining the egg or by keeping the egg from leaving the ovary. You need to take emergency contraceptive pills as soon as you have unprotected sex, though they can work up to five days later .
b. Intrauterine Devices:
A woman can also choose to have an IUD inserted in the uterus to prevent pregnancy. Intrauterine devices are small devices that are shaped like a ‘T’. There are two kinds of IUDs – the hormonal IUD and the copper IUD . They affect the movement of the sperm so that it is unable to meet the egg.
IUDs are the cheapest and most long-lasting of all birth control measures. You can use them if you are breastfeeding. They don’t alter or affect your hormone levels.
6. Vaginal Ring:
This hormonal birth control method for consists of a transparent plastic ring that is placed in your vagina. Just like the combination pill, it releases estrogen and progestin . By continually releasing hormones into your bloodstream, the vaginal ring prevents you from ovulating. It also causes the lining of your uterus to thin, thereby reducing the chances of implantation.
You can keep the vaginal ring in your vagina for three consecutive weeks. Once you remove it, your period begins. This contraceptive device can be used until the age of 50. However, not every woman can use it. So always consult your doctor before choosing a vaginal ring.
This birth control method for woman is put deep into the vagina and meant to kill sperm before it reaches the eggs. Spermicides are present in the form of gels, creams, foams and other suppositories. Though spermicides are effective even when used alone, it is best to use them with other birth control methods.
You should place them in the vagina at least 15 minutes before engaging in sexual intercourse so that they can dissolve and spread. The only drawback is that spermicides are effective only for an hour. After this time is up, you will need to put on another application of it.
[ Read: Postpartum Tubal Ligation ]
8. Tubal Ligation:
Tubal ligation, also known as “tying your tubes,” makes you infertile. There are two ways of undergoing this procedure.
a. Abdominal Incision:
Performed under general anesthesia, this involves making an incision just above your pubic region to access the fallopian tubes. The doctor cuts and seals the tubes to prevent eggs from reaching your uterus.
Also performed under general anesthesia, laparoscopy involves two tiny incisions to block your fallopian tubes. The two incisions can be covered with Band-Aids until they heal.
Tubal ligation is simple yet effective birth control method for women. It has a low failure rate, less than 0.1 percent . But it comes with a risk. If the ligation is unsuccessful, you risk ectopic pregnancy. However, this one-time procedure offers protection against unwanted pregnancy and reduces your risk of pelvic inflammatory disease and ovarian cancer.
Think through before getting your tubes tied, as reversible is expensive and may or may not be possible. It does not protect you against sexually transmitted infections.
[ Read: Birth Control Pills During Breastfeeding ]
Naturally, when choosing a birth control method, you should choose one that is certified as being efficient and safe. Different birth control solutions have different side effects and risks attached to them. So, by spending a little time understanding the different birth control methods for men and women, you will be able to make an informed choice.
Do you use birth control? What method do you use to prevent unwanted pregnancy? We would love to hear from you.
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