Birth control or contraception is the step taken to prevent unwanted pregnancies. There are different methods of contraception and the method you choose depends solely on your individual requirements.
In Nigeria and many parts of Africa, there is a high occurrence of unplanned pregnancies usually leading to abortions which are unsafe majority of the time. Ensuring that men and women chose the right method of birth control will reduce the unwanted effects of unplanned pregnancies.
What are the available methods of birth control?
Method for men and women
Condoms seem to be the simplest form of birth control. There are condoms made for men and those made for women as well. They are easy to use and readily available. They help to prevent pregnancies by preventing the male sperm from reaching the female egg. If used correctly, condoms are very effective. They can also help to minimize the spread of sexually transmitted infections. However, condoms can sometimes break during sexual intercourse, rendering them useless for the purpose of birth control.
Methods for women
Birth control tablets
There are two main types of contraception tablets; the combined pill and the progesterone-only pill. These tablets can only be taken by women and it is usually required that they are taken every day of the month with a 7 day break for the combined pill. These tablets are very effective in preventing pregnancy in most women but they must be taken each and every day. The choice between combined pill or progesterone only pill will depend on a few factors related to your general health, so it is important to speak to a doctor when you want to start taking birth control tablets.
Another useful method of contraception is the injections which are usually given every three months. This form of contraception is usually suitable for those women who may have difficulty remembering to take tablets on a daily basis. They are as effective as the tablets and usually don’t have as much side effects.
The coils are also useful for long-term birth control. They are small T-shaped devices and are usually inserted by a trained healthcare practitioner into the womb (the uterus). Once inserted, they are effective and can be left in place for up to 5 years without the need for any additional method of contraception.
The implants are similar in nature to the coils but these are usually inserted under the skin, mostly in the arm. They can also be left in place and are effective for up to 3 years.
This is the method of contraception that involves permanently cutting or clipping the fallopian tubes which normally help to transport the female egg into the womb, thereby blocking off the supply of eggs. This method is usually not reversible.
Methods for men
In as much as it is important for women to think about birth control, it is important for men as well. Apart from the use of condoms, the other method suitable for men is male sterilization. This method involves clipping the tube that transport sperm into the semen, thereby preventing the sperm from reaching the egg during intercourse. Please not that it is the supply of sperm that is cut off and not semen. With this method, men can still enjoy sexual intercourse without necessarily noticing any difference.
What method of birth control should I choose?
The choice of contraception should always be considered on an individual basis. It is important first to determine if a particular method is suitable for you. For example, certain medical conditions or family history might mean that you shouldn’t have a particular method. So in order to determine the best method for you, speak to a doctor or a trained family-planning practitioner.