Population is a rising global concern. The World Population Day is observed on July 11 every year to make people aware of its impact and underline the importance of smarter family planning. The United Nations has pegged the global population to touch 8.5 billion by 2030, an estimate that should raise an alarm and make people more aware about ways to prevent pregnancy.
It is important to control population as the rise affects economic development, employment and income distribution, as well as efforts to make sure there is universal access to education, healthcare, housing, food, sanitation, drinking water and energy. Gender equality can’t be left behind either. Science and technology have made it possible for both men and women to choose their desired way of avoiding a pregnancy and practice safe sex.
For tips on how to avoid pregnancy and the types of contraception, Health Shots consulted Dr Archana Dhawan Bajaj, Gynaecologist, Obstetrician and IVF Expert, Director – Nurture Clinic, New Delhi.
Condoms are one of the first things that pop in the mind when it comes to safe sex. It is a popularly followed barrier method, and is considered one of the best methods to prevent pregnancy and even sexually transmitted infections. A condom blocks the sperm from reaching the egg, says Dr Bajaj. Female condoms have also gained prominence over the years, giving the woman the power to take pregnancy control in her own hands.
Oral contraceptives are commonly known as birth control pills, and are hormonal medications that need to be taken daily to prevent pregnancy. The expert explains that they work by inhibiting ovulation and altering the cervical mucus to make it harder for sperm to reach the egg.
IUDs are small and T-shaped devices that are inserted into the uterus by a professional. They prevent pregnancy by either releasing hormones or creating an environment that is unfavourable for fertilisation.
Injectable contraceptives involve getting hormone injections every few months. These injections prevent ovulation and offer effective contraception.
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Implantable contraceptives like the contraceptive implant or the contraceptive patch are also small devices. They can be easily placed under the skin, and they release hormones that prevent ovulation.
Many of us know it as the morning-after pill. It is used after having unprotected sex or contraceptive failure. It can help to prevent pregnancy if taken within a specific timeframe, says Dr Bajaj.
This method involves monitoring a woman’s menstrual cycle and identifying fertile and infertile periods. This method requires careful tracking of ovulation and abstaining from sex during fertile periods.
It is a small silicone or latex cup that covers the cervix, blocking sperm from entering the uterus. It needs to be used with spermicide so that it is more effective.
It is a dome-shaped barrier device that covers the cervix, similar to what a cervical cap does. It also forms a good pair with spermicide.
If you want permanent surgical methods of contraception then these can help. While tubal ligation is the blocking or sealing of the fallopian tubes in women, vasectomy is the cutting or sealing of the vas deferens in men.
The expert says that most contraceptive methods are safe and have minimal side effects. But it’s important to note that each method carries its own considerations –
Birth control pills, injectable contraceptives, and hormonal IUDs might have side effects such as irregular bleeding, mood changes, breast tenderness or nausea.
Condoms, cervical caps and diaphragms generally have no long-term health risks, but some people might have latex allergies or sensitivities to spermicides used with these methods.
Tubal ligation and vasectomy are considered permanent and irreversible. While complications are rare, as with any surgical procedure, there is a small risk of infection, bleeding, or injury to surrounding organs.
If you wish to prevent pregnancy, you should consult with a doctor to understand the most suitable contraceptive methods. It all comes down to your health, lifestyle and preferences.