Written by Charlotte Wood (last updated March 18, 2009)
Families are vastly different from how they used to be one hundred years ago; relations between husband and wife are vastly different as well. Because of a lack of access to birth control methods, most couples' only way to monitor how many children (or pregnancies) they had was to abstain from sexual relations. Fortunately, there are forms of contraception that can better monitor and control when a woman can get pregnant. If you are looking for a type of birth control, you need to know what options are available. There are several types of birth control, and each has its pros and cons—you just need to figure out what is best for you and your partner.
Probably the most common form of birth control is "the pill." The birth control pill is taken by women and releases excess estrogen into the woman's body. The extra estrogen fools the body into thinking that the woman is pregnant; thus, the ovaries don't release any eggs. A woman who is on the pill has her period when she's on the placebo birth control pills, which are taken to simply allow for healthy menstruation.
Other common methods of contraception include what is called barrier methods. Barrier methods work to prevent the sperm from entering the woman's vagina. The most common barrier method is the male condom, but there are also other barrier methods for females. The female condom works to keep semen out as well. There are also cervical barriers available that are implanted inside the woman. Cervical barriers include the contraceptive sponge, the cervical cap (the smallest cervical barrier), and the diaphragm. Spermicide can be used as a chemical barrier contraceptive.
There are also forms of hormonal contraception. (Hormonal contraception includes the birth control pill.) Other types of hormonal contraception are the birth control patch and the vaginal ring. There are also injections available for contraception; injections aren't usually available in the US, but can be administered in Europe. Intrauterine contraception is contraception placed inside of the uterus. Intrauterine devices are T-shaped to keep it in place inside the uterus. The device then periodically secretes birth control hormones.
There is no one sure contraceptive for everyone—contraception is very personal and should be decided on very carefully and methodically. Some contraceptives require daily administration for effectiveness, some need to be used only when the people are going to have sexual intercourse, and some need to be implanted and checked on only every once in a while. Do your research, talk to your doctor, and make sure that you and your partner choose the best birth control for you both.
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