What are the Different Methods of Birth Control?

            The human population is going up by leaps and bounds and the developing countries are the worst affected. This is giving rise to shortages of food, shelter and water. The potential threat of a population explosion made family planning a national issue in many developing countries.

            In the developed courtiers, just the opposite was true- family size became smaller to meet the demands of a hectic industrial life but this did not happen in the poorer countries. Several birth control methods have been developed over the years to control population.

            The testes- the sex gland of a man- produce sperms, while ovaries- the ova. When the male sperm combines with the female ovum inside a woman’s body, a new life begins to grow. Birth control methods are used to prevent the combination of the egg with the sperm. These have been divided into three broad categories: natural methods, spacing method and terminal methods.

            Natural methods are those which do not involve the use of any drug. These are
1.        The rhythm or safe period method and
2.       Coitus interrupts.

The rhythm method is based on the avoidance of
Sexual inter course during the unsafe period or the days when there is a possibility of the egg meeting the sperm. Women normally produce one ovum every month. If the male sperm does not enter the vagina at the time, then pregnancy can be avoided. The safe period is counted basing on the days of the regular menstrual cycle of 28 days.

            11 days before the expected date of commencement of menstruation are considered safe; the 8 days proceeding these 11 days are full of risk. The 8 days before this risk period are considered safe. Since the regularity of monthly period varies from woman to woman, the safe period varies accordingly.

            The second natural method, coitus interrupts, involves interrupting sexual intercourse before the man ejaculates the semen. Withdrawing the penis for the vagina before discharge prevents the semen from entering the woman’s body. This method is, however, very risky, and said to be psychologically unhealthy.

            Spacing methods include the barrier contraceptives, which prevent the viable sperm either form entering the vagina or from reaching the uterus, thus leaving them unable to swim up the fallopian tube and fertilize an ovum. These methods involve the used of: 1. Condom, 2. Diaphragm, 3. Intra-Uterine Devices (IUD), 4. Oral Contraceptive Pills and 5. Spermicides. All these methods are good for delaying or gap between the children, as simply stopping their use easily reverses their effects.

Intra-Uterine Device 

            A condom is an extremely thin rubber sheath unrolled on the erect penis before doing sex. As it covers the penis, sperms cannot go inside the woman’s body. A condom can not be reused. Similarly, a diaphragm is a thin rubber can shape like a dome, which is placed in a woman’s again before intercourse. This closes the opening to the womb and hence prevents the meeting of male and female cells.

            Again, intra-uterine devices are placed inside the uterus so that sperm is not allowed to meet ovum. Lippies loop and copper-T are the most commonly used IUDs in India.

            Spermicides are chemical contraceptives like jelly cream and foam tablets, which kill the male sperms, deposited in the woman’s body during intercourse. They are used only 15 minutes before the intercourse.

            Oral contraceptives are birth control pills; they keep the egg from moving out of a woman’s ovary, and thus prevent her from becoming pregnant. These pills contain estrogen and progesterone hormones, thus maintaining them at a constant high level. As a result, ovulation is not triggered, and without an ovum, pregnancy cannot occur.

            Terminal method, popularly known as sterilization, is an extremely effective method of contraception because it is permanent. In males, it is called vasectomy where the sperms are prevented from leaving the testes by cutting and tying the vas deferens- the tube that carries the sperm from the testes to the urethra.

            In females, it is called Tubectomy; here the surgeon closes the fallopian tubes along which the egg cells pass to reach the uterus. With the help of the different birth control methods, one can have as many children as desired and also achieve a suitable gap between the births- normally recommended as three years.