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What are the safe methods to avoid pregnancy?

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Dr. Aarti Abraham

OBGYN

Practicing since :1998

Answered : 6011 Questions

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Posted on Mon, 4 Feb 2013 in Women's Health
Question: I have 2years 4 months old son. I am not interested to have second child what I should do to avoid pregnancy.
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Answered by Dr. Aarti Abraham 47 minutes later
Hello XXXXXXX,
Thanks for writing to us.

Birth control, also known as contraception and fertility control, refers to methods or devices used to prevent pregnancy. Determining whether a woman with one or more illnesses, diseases, risk factors, or abnormalities can use a particular form of birth control is a complex medical question requiring a pelvic examination or medical tests. The World Health Organization publishes a detailed list of medical eligibility criteria for each type of contraception. Before choosing one and for exact prescriptions, you should have an appointment with your gynecologist.

I will briefly describe the choices available to you , as birth control is dispersed by the " Cafetaria " method, wherein the healthcare provider explains pros and cons of each method , and the user chooses the one best suited to her.

" Natural " methods like coitus interruptus ( withdrawal technique ) or timing of intercourse based on " safe " days have a very high failure rate, and emergency contraceptive methods are never a substitute for a regular method .

Barrier contraceptives are devices that attempt to prevent pregnancy by physically preventing sperm from entering the uterus. They include: male condoms, female condoms, cervical caps, diaphragms, and contraceptive sponges with spermicide. These protect against sexually transmitted diseases also. Typical effectiveness during the first year of use is about 84% overall, and 68% among women who have already given birth.

Hormonal contraceptives inhibit ovulation and fertilization.These include oral pills, subdermal implants, and injectable contraceptives as well as the hormonal patch, hormonal intra uterine devices and a newer vaginal contraceptive ring. The most commonly used hormonal contraceptive is the combined oral contraceptive pill—commonly known as "the pill"—which includes a combination of an estrogen and a progestin (progestogen). There is also a progestin-only pill, especially for breastfeeding women. If opting for pills, you need a thorough evaluation, as these pills have side effects such as irregular bleeding, nausea, breast tenderness, as well as increased risk of certain cancers, heart disease etc. However, newer formulations with lower doses are available, and many women continue to be on the pill safely for years without problems. Pills, if used consistently and correctly, have high success rate ( almost 95 - 98 % ). Also, they have various beneficial effects on bleeding patterns, menstrual pain, certain conditions like ovarian and endometrial cancer are reduced.

The vaginal contraceptive rings provide similar action such as pills, but have the added benefit of not having to remember to take a pill everyday.

Newer intrauterine devices also offer that freedom, and are highly effective and preferred.

Injectable hormonal contraception is notorious for irregular bleeding, and often absence of periods, which might be a source of anxiety for some women.

Permanent methods like tubal ligation / vasectomy for the male can be chosen if you are absolutely sure that you do not want to ever have a second child, however, as your son is only 2years old, I feel it is too premature to take that call.

In order to increase the efficacy rate, many couples prefer a " dual " method wherein two methods are combined, for eg, the male condom and the pill.

As you can see, there are a wide range of safe options for you to choose from. Do consult your gynecologist before opting for any method, as a proper safety checklist has to be followed for each method.

Take care and feel free to ask for further clarifications.


Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
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