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Birth control or family planning should be an important part of every young man and woman’s sexual life. There are many ways to prevent an unwanted pregnancy, and some of them coincide with methods of STD prevention. When a young person first starts being sexually active, he or she is bound to get confused about many ways to prevent a pregnancy and to stay protected. Fortunately, the market today offers a wide choice and everyone can find the birth control method that suits him or her the best.

Barrier Methods

Barrier methods involve contraception which prevents the sperm from even reaching the egg. Female barrier methods used to include suppositories and sponges, but today, with the progress made in science and medicine, there are devices that are far more effective than that. The diaphragm is probably the most popular device, followed by various cervical caps and shields like FemCap and Lea’s Shield. Female condoms are less popular these days but they are still in use.

Condoms are the most widely used and the most effective way of birth control which also provides protection from STDs. It was considered a birth control method for men, but today many women choose to be responsible and safe and provide condoms in case their partner does not have one.

Hormonal Contraception

Hormonal contraceptives are also very popular because they provide great protection even in those cases when a condom or other device is not at hand. They come in form of pills, patches, rings or injections. Each of these forms releases hormones into the body which prevent the egg from forming, and when there is no egg, pregnancy cannot occur.

Natural Methods

Natural methods imply that no device, hormonal formulation or anything synthetic is used. The safest type of natural birth control method is certainly complete abstinence, but the couples who choose this are very rare. Many women go for periodic abstinence, meaning they observe their cycle, particularly the ovulation, and calculate the fertile and infertile days. During the fertile days they abstain from sex.

Withdrawal method or coitus interruptus can also count as a natural method, but the studies have found that it is not the most effective way to prevent pregnancy, because the penis releases small amounts of semen even before the ejaculation.

Long Term and Permanent Methods

There are methods that offer long-term results, usually providing protection for at least one year. They involve intrauterine devices or implants that work for a year or five years, depending on the type.

Some people choose to undergo surgical procedures that will permanently prevent any chance of getting pregnant, and they usually do so after giving birth to a child or several children. For women, the procedure is called tubal ligation, and for men it is vasectomy. These procedures can be reversed, although for tubal ligation the reversal may not be successful.

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