Knowing the effectiveness of a birth control method is very important to prevent an unwanted pregnancy. The following article provides information about the various birth control methods and their effectiveness.
A whopping 50% of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned. This clearly indicates the ignorance of people regarding birth control. There are various methods that can prevent unwanted pregnancies, and some of them can even protect you from sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). However, the degree of effectiveness varies for each method. The effectiveness of any method is determined by the number of couples that get pregnant within a year of having protected sex with any of the methods.
It is one of the most commonly used method to prevent pregnancy. These are basically pills which work at various levels to prevent pregnancy. Some of these pills prevent the ovaries from releasing an egg, while some make cervical mucus thick so that sperms face difficulty reaching an egg. Some pills may even thin out the endometrium, so that even if the egg is fertilized, it has difficulty attaching itself to the wall of uterus. These pills mostly contain estrogen and progesterone, the two important female sex hormones. The problem with these pills is that, if you miss a pill or delay it and have unprotected sex, your chances of getting pregnant increase. Effectiveness of these pills is greatly determined by your diligence. It is estimated that, out of 100 couples taking these pills, 8 will become pregnant by the end of year. On a scale of ‘less effective’ to ‘very effective’, these pills score a grade ‘effective’. Besides this, they do not provide any protection against STDs.
Condoms are available for men, as well as women. Male condoms are highly preferred by couples due to their convenience and cost. Male condoms are made from latex and are to be worn on erect penis during intercourse, whereas, female condoms are to be inserted inside the vagina prior to intercourse. Male condoms offer better protection than female condoms. They also provide protection from sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). The effectiveness of this barrier method is about 85% while that of female condoms is about 79%. They are often used with other birth control methods such as pills, diaphragm, ring, etc.
Ring and Diaphragm
Ring and diaphragm are the methods of female contraception. The ring consists of a latex sheet with a ring on one end. This end has to be inserted in the vagina, while the other end creates a barrier at the opening of the cervix, so that the sperms cannot enter. Diaphragm is a bowl shaped thick latex barrier, which often contains spermicides, to kill any sperm which has crossed over the rim. The bowl is filled with spermicide and inserted in the cervix. The diaphragm is reusable for up to two years. However, it should be inserted at least 6 hours before intercourse and should be left there for another couple of hours after intercourse. Ring is an effective method of family planning while diaphragm is only moderately effective. Both of these methods cannot protect you against STDs.
Shot, Emergency Pills, and IUDs
All of these are highly effective methods of female contraception. The shots are hormonal injections which are to be taken every 12 weeks. Emergency contraceptive pills are hormone pills which have higher dosage of hormones. IUD (intra-uterine device) is fitted inside the uterus of the woman to create a barrier against the sperms. These methods are about 97% effective in preventing unwanted pregnancies. However, none of them protects you against STDs. Hence, it is better to combine them with condoms. Besides this, emergency pills cannot be used regularly due to their harmful effects. They should only be taken in case of ‘accidents’, that too under the supervision of a gynecologist.
Withdrawal and Abstinence
These two are the natural methods of contraception. Withdrawal refers to the act of man pulling out of the vagina before he ejaculates. This method offers only 73% success rate, as some stray sperms may enter the vagina long before the man feels an urge to ejaculate. Abstinence on the other hand, is the safest and most effective method. It refers to the act of refraining from sex. Needless to say, not many couples practice this method and often need some other contraception method.
Some form of contraception is always better than none at all. All the couples who are sexually active should practice safe sex to avoid unwanted pregnancies and STDs.