Types of Birth Control, Advantages and Disadvantages

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When you are not ready to support or raise a child, having sex becomes a thing to be careful about. Some couples may decide they are not ready to bring in a child into the relationship. Individuals, also, that are not into serious relationships and definitely don’t want to be raising children by themselves try to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

Thanks to improvement in science and technology, it has become easier to prevent unwanted pregnancies through various birth control methods. Like every other thing in life, each method has its advantages and disadvantages and health risks.

The most commonly used birth control methods are:

  • Condom
  • Birth control pill
  • Birth control implants
  • Birth control shots
  • Birth control patch
  • Birth control vaginal ring
  • Birth control sponge
  • Cervical cap
  • Diaphragm
  • Vasectomy
  • Withdrawal
  • Tubal ligation

Condom

Condom Day
Image: REUTERS

What it is?: Condoms are basically rubber pouches worn on the penis during sexual intercourse. They collect semen during ejaculation and therefore prevent sperm from entering the vagina and fertilizing the egg.

It prevents sexually transmitted diseases by preventing contact between penile and vaginal fluid.

Advantages:

  1. They prevent pregnancies
  2. They prevent STDs
  3. They are easy to use
  4. They are affordable and easy to get

Disadvantages:

  1. A condom could tear during intercourse and semen could get into the vagina
  2. It is only 85% effective.

Health Effects: People allergic to latex or rubber may not be able to use them

Birth Control Pill

Birth Control Pill

Birth control pills are pills with hormones that help prevent pregnancy. It prevents sperm from meeting the egg. It stops ovulation and also thickens the cervical mucus, making it harder for sperm to swim to fertilize an egg.

Advantages:

  1. They are 91% effective
  2. They are easy to use
  3. They are affordable 

Disadvantages:

  1. They require effort as they are to be taken daily.
  2. They do not prevent STDs and hence should be used with condoms to prevent STDs

Health Effects: Some negative side effects may occur during use such as bleeding between periods, sore breasts, and nausea.

Birth Control Implants

Birth Control Implants

It is a tiny thin rod that releases hormone into the body and these hormones prevent pregnancy. It is inserted in the arm by a nurse or doctor. It prevents pregnancy for up to 4 years! When it is no longer needed it is easily removed and it is quite easy to get pregnant when it is removed.

Advantages:

  1. It is 99% effective
  2. It is very stress free
  3. It has a very long duration of action

Disadvantages:

  1. It requires the help of a medical practitioner
  2. It is relatively costly
  3. It does not prevent STDs.

Health Effects: They are very rare. They include arm pain, an infection in the arm or a scare on the insertion point.

Birth Control Shots:

Birth Control Shots

The birth control shots, or depo shots, is an injection from a nurse every 3 months. The shot has almost the same mechanism of action as the pill but its long lasting.

Advantages:

  1. They are 94% effective
  2. They require only little effort
  3. They are durable
  4. They are more private

Disadvantages:

  1. They are relatively costly
  2. They require the help of a medical practitioner
  3. It is easy to miss a shot or forget
  4. They do not prevent STDs.

Health Effects: Using the shot may cause temporary bone thinning that increases as you keep using the shot. Bone density returns when the shots are stopped.

Birth Control Patch

Birth Control Patch

It is a patch worn Trans dermally, either on the skin of the belly, butt, upper arm or back. You put on a new patch every three weeks and it releases hormones which are then absorbed into your body through your skin. It also works similarly to the birth control pill.

Advantages:

  1. It is safe
  2. It is simple to use
  3. It is an affordable birth control method
  4. It is relatively durable
  5. It is relatively stress free
  6. It is 91% effective

Disadvantages:

  1. It does not prevent STDs
  2. Leaving the patch on longer than normal could cause health issues.

Health Effects: Avoid using the patch if you have had heart attack, stroke, angina, breast cancer, diabetes, liver disease, blood clots, or uncontrolled high blood pressure.

Birth Control Vagina Ring

Birth Control Vagina Ring

Also called Nova ring. It is a small flexible ring worn inside the vagina. It is 91% effective. It releases hormones into the body. These hormones stop ovulation, thereby stopping availability off eggs for a sperm to fertilize. It also thickens the cervical mucus which prevents sperm from swimming towards the egg. Therefore, preventing fertilization. It is changed every month.

Advantages:

  1. It is safe
  2. It is simple to use
  3. It is affordable
  4. It has an advantage in a woman’s menstrual flow. It helps to predict the next flow, it lightens the flow and also reduces menstrual cramps.
  5. It has some health benefits including prevention of acne, bone thinning, iron deficiency among some others.

Disadvantages:

  1. It doesn’t prevent STDs as it’s therefore advised to use a condom together with it.
  2. It may cause spotting or bleeding mid-ovulation.
  3. Could lead to sore breasts.
  4. Could cause extra vaginal wetness.
  5. It tampers with the level of sexual desire.
  6. It contains hormones, which may lead to allergies.

Health Effects: Because it contains hormones, it is possible for individuals allergic to the hormones to react to them. It is best to consult a doctor before using it.

Birth Control Sponge

Birth Control Sponge

It is a small round sponge that is inserted in the vagina before sexual intercourse.  It is, on average, 82% effective. It is put into the vagina before sexual intercourse. It covers the cervix, thus blocking the movement of the sperm towards the egg because it serves as a barrier between them. It also contains spermicide, which weakens or kills the sperm before it gets to the egg. It has fabric loop used to help bring it out from the vagina after use just like a tampon. It could be worn earlier during the day and will therefore not interrupt in the heat of the moment.

Advantages:

  1. Easily available
  2. No prescription needed that means it can be done without need for a professional help or medical procedure.
  3. It is portable
  4. It has a 24 hours protection span of usage.
  5. It is hormone free.

Disadvantages:

  1. Some people may find it hard to use.
  2. You have to leave it in for at least 6 hours after the last intercourse.
  3. Some people may find it difficult to remove.
  4. It doesn’t prevent STDs and you’re advised to couple it with a condom
  5. The spermicide content in it may lead to allergic reactions.
  6. Some complain it’s too wet and messy.
  7. Because it soaks up moisture, it could absorb vaginal wetness which leads to dry and unpleasable sex.
  8. It has a weird taste and not advised during oral sex.

Health Effects: It shouldn’t be use by breast feeding women, or those allergic to spermicide.

Cervical Cap

Cervical Cap

Cervical caps are soft silicon cups inserted into the vagina to cover the cervix. Just like the sponge, covering the cervix prevents sperm from reaching the egg. It is called a cap because it is shaped like a sailors cap. Its effectiveness is improved when it is used with spermicide as spermicide slows down or destroys the sperm. Cervical caps don’t have spermicide in them like the sponge does and the spermicide has to be applied separately. It can be inserted earlier as well but should not be left over two hours after sex.

Advantages:

  1. It is portable
  2. It is reusable. It can be reused for up to a year.
  3. It is hormone free.
  4. It is effective
  5. It is durable.

Disadvantages:

  1. It may come off as hard to use especially for ladies not comfortable with inserting their hands into their vagina.
  2. It can be moved out of place during intercourse.
  3. It is not as effective without spermicide.
  4. Its size matters. It has to be the best fit for the vagina to reduce accidents or errors. Women that give birth, have abortions or miscarriages should check with their doctors for a refitting session before continuing to use it.
  5. It doesn’t prevent STDs and you are advised to use it with a condom.

Health Effects:

  1. Those allergic to silicon or spermicide shouldn’t use this.
  2. Women with cervical cancer or other issues should not use this.
  3. It may increase the risk of toxic shock syndrome in some people
  4. It shouldn’t be used during menstruation.
  5. It shouldn’t be shared.

Diaphragm

Diaphragm

It is silicon made and shallow cup shaped. It is almost the same as the cervical cap. It is inserted into the cervix and prevents sperm from meeting the egg. Its effectiveness is increased with the use of spermicide. It can be reused for up to 2 years.

Advantages:

  1. It is portable
  2. It is reusable
  3. It is hormone free.
  4. It is durable.
  5. It doesn’t interrupt in the heat of the moment.

Disadvantages:

  1. It could be moved out of place during intercourse.
  2. It is not as effective without spermicide.
  3. Its size matters. It has to be the best fit for the vagina to reduce accidents or errors. Women that give birth, have abortions or miscarriages should check with their doctors for a refitting session before continuing to use it.
  4. It does not prevent STDs and should be used along with a condom.

Health Effects:

  1. Shouldn’t be used by those allergic to silicon or spermicide.
  2. Women than have cervical cancer or other cervical issues should consult their doctors before using.
  3. It shouldn’t be used during menstruation.

Vasectomy

Vasectomy

Vasectomy is the surgical removal of the vas deferens. The vas deferens are tubes that carry sperm from the testicles to the prostate where it mixes with the seminal fluid and is ejaculated. Removing those stops the sperm from mixing with the seminal fluid and no sperm is ejaculated with the seminal fluid. The sperm produced by the body is then absorbed by the body instead of transported. Vasectomy is 99% effective and is a permanent process. It doesn’t reduce the volume of the seminal fluid or change the feel of the ejaculation, however. It is a permanent process and should only be done if you are a 100% sure you do not want to ever have a child again.

Advantages:

  1. It is 99% effective
  2. It is very convenient as you do not have to worry about any other protection in the heat of the moment.
  3. It is permanent and therefore durable.

Disadvantages:

  1. It can’t be reversed and should only be done at full certainty.
  2. It doesn’t prevent STDs and a condom is still advised.
  3. It is not fully effective until about three months after the procedure.
  4. It is quite an expensive procedure

Health Effects: It is actually a nearly side-effect free procedure except for minor infections that may occur after the procedure which clears up after a while.

Withdrawal

Withdrawal

Withdrawal method is probably the oldest method in the books. Just as the name suggests, is the actual withdrawal of the penis from the vagina before ejaculation. It is done before the actual ‘Cumming’. The person with the penis tries to ejaculate away from the vagina so as to prevent semen from entering the vagina. It makes other forms of birth control effective.  It’s however not suitable for everyone as some people experience pre-cum which also has the ability to get a woman pregnant especially those with little sexual experience.  This makes it not so very effective.

Advantages:

  1. It costs nothing
  2. It has no side effects.
  3. It is hormone free
  4. It makes other forms more effective.

Disadvantages:

  1. It doesn’t prevent STDs and a condom is advised
  2. It could be hard to pull out in time
  3. It is not efficient in cases of premature ejaculation (pre cum).
  4. It needs lots of control and trust.

Health Effects: It is hormone free and it leads to no allergic reactions.

Tubal Ligation

Tubal Ligation

Tubal ligation is the permanent blockage of the fallopian tube. It is also known as sterilization or having the tubes tied. Blocking the fallopian tubes stop the eggs from being fertilized because sperm can’t reach them. It is the female version of vasectomy and is also very permanent. It is done when one is certain they do not want to have a child ever again.  Menstruation still occurs after tubal ligation.

Advantages:

  1. It is 99% efficient
  2. It is very convenient
  3. It is hormone free
  4. It doesn’t mess with the natural hormone level of the body
  5. It could make sex life better as it doesn’t interrupt in the heat of the moment.
  6. It is permanent, making it more durable.

Disadvantages:

  1. It is permanent and can’t be reversed.
  2. It doesn’t prevent STDs and a condom is advised.
  3. There may be some pain or discomfort during or after the procedure.

Health Effects: There’s generally no health effect to this except the slight pain that may be experienced during or after the procedure.

Of all the birth control methods above, condoms are the only ones that prevent STDs. For any birth control method that you may want to adapt, you are advised to consult your doctor beforehand.

This article is intended for your general knowledge only, Learn More.


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Asmau Mohammed

I am a medical student and I love discussing all things health related. I also love being a health or lifestyle coach.

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