Note: Information provided on this page is for reference only,
please seek medical assistance when in doubt
Birth control, also known as contraception or fertility control, are methods or devices used to prevent
unwanted pregnancy and have been used since ancient times, however effective and safe methods only became
available in 20th century. Planning, provision and use of birth control is also reffered as family planning.
Birth control methods include barrier methods, hormonal birth control, sterilization,
intrauterine devices (IUDs), and behavioral methods that are used before or during sex on the other hand emergency
contraceptives are effective for up to a few days after sex. Effectiveness of any contraceptive method
or device is generally expressed as percentage of women who become pregnant using the given method during
the first year and/or as a lifetime failure rate.
Most effective methods of birth control are sterilization by means of vasectomy in males and tubal
ligation in females, intrauterine devices (IUDs) and implantable contraceptives, followed by a number of
hormonal contraceptives including oral pills, patches, vaginal rings, and injections. Less effective
methods include barriers such as condoms, diaphragms and contraceptive sponge and fertility awareness
methods and the least effective methods are spermicides and withdrawal by the male before ejaculation.
Sterilization, is highly effective but is mostly irreversible while all other methods are
reversible, mostly upon stopping them. Emergency contraceptives can prevent pregnancy in the few days
after having unprotected sex. More importance is given for having Safe sex, such as practicing use of
male or female condoms, which not only prevent unwanted pregnancy but can also help prevent sexually
transmitted infections. Some regard sexual abstinence as birth control, however is most difficult to
implement particularly in younger couple.
Most effective methods are those that are long acting and do not require regular health care visits.
Surgical sterilization, implantable hormones, and intrauterine devices all have first-year failure rates
of less than 1%. Hormonal contraceptive pills, patches or vaginal rings, and the lactational amenorrhea
method (LAM), if used strictly, can also have first-year failure rates of less than 1%. While incorrect
usage of these methods typical has first-year failure rates are considerably high, at 9%. Other methods
such as condoms, diaphragms, and spermicides have higher first-year failure rates.
While all methods of birth control have some potential adverse effects, the risk is less than that
of pregnancy. After stopping or removing many methods of birth control, including oral contraceptives,
IUDs, implants and injections, the rate of pregnancy during the subsequent year is the same as for those
who used no birth control.
Before using any contraceptive method other than using condoms for birth control, it is highly
advisable to consult your local health care personal; in those with specific health problems certain
forms of birth control methods cannot be used. However for women who are otherwise healthy, many methods
of birth control should not require a medical examination including birth control pills, injectable or
implantable birth control, and condoms. Usually, a pelvic examination, breast examination, or blood test
is conducted before doctor can prescribe best contraceptive method suitable for you or your partner.
Some cultures limit or discourage access to birth control because they consider it to be morally
or politically undesirable.
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