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Your contraceptive choices

Introduction

It is very important for all sexually active men and women to understand how pregnancy occurs and, if they are not ready to become parents yet, what options are available in terms of contraception.

Today, contraception is widely available and there is a lot of support and information on the subject. Every person should decide what option works the best for his or her individual needs, basing on the knowledge and understanding about how each contraceptive works.

Persons who are only becoming sexually active or are planning to do so are strongly advised to get as much information as they can on the subject of contraception, pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Today, this information is available to everyone in schools, clinics, youth centers and various community service centers. There are also specialized contraception clinics which, in addition to contraception, also provide pre-pregnancy device, pregnancy testing, screening, tests for STDs and advice on topics such as safe sex, sexual problems, infertility and menopause.

Types of contraception

Contraceptives can be classified according to the principle behind their action. The basic purpose of contraceptives is to prevent unwanted pregnancies, but some of them also provide protection against sexually transmitted diseases, which is a very important function.

Barrier method in contraception is based on the prevention of contact between sperm and the egg. The most popular barrier contraceptive, and also one of the most widely used contraception choices in general, is a condom. Condoms are widely available, do not require a prescription and they are cheap. More importantly, they also prevent the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases. Other barrier contraceptives are female condom, diaphragm and cervical cap.

Hormonal methods are also very popular. They work by changing the hormone levels so the egg cannot be produced, fertilized or implanted in the uterus. Some of the contraceptives of this type are the combined pill, which contains both progesterone and estrogen, progesterone-only pill, contraceptive patch and contraceptive vaginal ring.

There are also contraceptives that do not depend on a person taking them in required intervals, which is called long-acting reversible contraception. This includes intrauterine devices, implants and injections.

Permanent methods include female and male surgical sterilization. Even though they are considered permanent, some of these procedures are actually reversible.

There are also natural planning methods, which are based on calculating the fertile days in a woman’s menstrual cycle, using cervical mucus and basal body temperature as parameters.

Even though it is not considered a reliable option, the pull-out method or coitus interruptus is also a way to prevent pregnancy, however with much lower efficiency rates than other methods.

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