If you're sexually active, you'll know that even though sex is (almost) the best thing in the world but it does come with its fair share of worries. So if you've been having sex regularly, the one thing that's always on your mind is an unwanted pregnancy. Nobody wants to be in a situation where you have a positive pregnancy test in your hand and no idea about the future. The time after that can be really confusing and painful as you (and your partner) come to a decision about what to do.
But, hey, isn't prevention better than cure? Isn't it better to be prepared for what's coming and try to avoid it at all costs instead of later figuring out what to do? We think it is! And so comes the age old question - how to prevent pregnancy? Here are some methods you can use to prevent pregnancy.
Ways To Prevent Pregnancy
Barrier methods are methods that physically stop the sperm from reaching the eggs and completely preventing fertilization. Some of these methods include:
- Male Condoms
The most commonly available barrier method, male condoms are the traditionally used condoms that men use to cover their penises during sex. Condoms are the only methods that prevent pregnancies as well as sexually transmitted infections. However, there are a few things that need to be kept in mind while using a male condom; like choosing the correct size and making sure you put it on correctly. They're available over-the-counter at all supermarkets and chemists.
- Female Condoms
The female counterparts of male condoms, they are inserted in the vagina and are just as effective. They can be used in place of male condoms but they should never be used together. While they are now increasingly available OTC, but if you can't find them at your nearest chemist, you can order them online.
- Cervical Cap
Cervical caps are silicone cups that are inserted deep inside the vagina to cover the cervix so that the sperm does not reach the egg. According to research, the effectiveness is anywhere from 70 to 85 percent but it does not prevent STIs.
It is another barrier method that is inserted inside the vagina to prevent ovulation. However, it is important to remember to apply spermicide on the diaphragm before each use. With spermicide, the effectiveness of the diaphragm is up to 90 percent. It needs to be inserted a few hours before and removed after 24 hours.
Hormonal forms of birth control prevent pregnancies by stopping ovulation. However, this type of contraception does not protect you against any STIs. Also, you need a doctor's prescription to buy these medicines.
- Contraceptive Pills
Birth control pills are one of the most commonly used hormonal methods. They are over 99 percent effective when taken as prescribed. There are two types of pills that can be taken - one with estrogen and progestin, called combined pill, that needs to be taken daily and one that only contains progestin, called the mini-pill, that needs to be taken at the same time every day. The pill with estrogen and progestin contains a few pills that are free of hormones so that women have a monthly period while for the mini-pill, the periods aren't regular.
Another hormonal method that is 99 percent effective when used correctly. The contraceptive patch can be placed on the back, buttocks, stomach or on the arms. However, each patch must be worn for 3 weeks before removing it for 1 week to allow menstruation.
The contraceptive injection can be given every 12 weeks by a doctor. When used correctly, and taken on time, it is 90 percent effective at preventing pregnancies. However, it may take up to 10 months, in some cases even longer, for fertility to return to normal.
Devices And Implants
Intrauterine devices (IUDs) and other implants are long-term contraceptive devices. However, since these devices are inserted inside the vagina, they are 99 percent effective at preventing pregnancies because there is little room for human error.
IUDs are small devices that are inserted by the doctor into the uterus. There are two types: hormonal and copper-based. The hormonal ones last 5 years and work by thickening the cervical mucus to prevent the sperm from entering the uterus. The copper-based ones are hormone-free ones that destroy the sperm trying to enter the uterus. However, there are adverse reactions of IUDs including irregular periods, menstrual cramps or spotting between periods.
Implants are matchstick-sized rods that are inserted into the arm to protect against pregnancy. They work by releasing the hormone progestin into the body, which prevents ovulation and must be replaced every 3 years.
- Family Planning
Another method of contraception is all about tracking the menstrual cycle and avoiding sex when the woman is in the fertile phase of a menstrual cycle. An individual's fertility window lasts for around a week per month and coincides with ovulation. There are various ways that it can be done. Each person's fertile window is different so a person needs to pay attention to their body's signal.
- Emergency Contraceptive Pills
There needs to be a back up for when the first method fails or you forget to use any protection at all. Emergency contraceptive pills are pills that need to be taken with 72 hours, or in some cases, five days of unprotected sex.
Both women and men can undergo sterilization procedures that reduce fertility permanently. These procedures have a really high success rate. In men, the procedure is called a vasectomy where the vas deferens - the tubes that carry the sperms are snipped. This procedure is usually reversible. In women, the procedure is called tube ligation where the fallopian tubes are sealed. The effects of this are usually permanent.
Your Body Your Rules
It is common for people, especially women, to be shamed for the sexual choices they make. However, that must never stop you from making the decision that's best for yourself. Being a little embarrassed may last for a few seconds but getting pregnant has long-term consequences. The best way, obviously, to prevent it is obviously birth control. So if you're sexually active, visit a gynaecologist and come up with a long-term birth control plan so that you don't have to scramble for condoms every time you two decide to get intimate.
But what if you used birth control, it didn't work and now you're pregnant? Even then, the decision is yours at the end of the day. Your body will be going through all the changes and you will be the person responsible for giving birth to the child, so you get to choose what to do. Abortion isn't a bad word and nobody can judge you for a decision that is yours alone. It is better to bring a child into the world when you can take proper care of it rather than have two lives, yours and the child's, disrupted.
1. When can I have sex to avoid pregnancy? Or How many days after the period can I not get pregnant?
There are actually days in your cycle when the chances of getting pregnant are really low. These days are known as your not fertile days. On the other hand, days close to your ovulation are actually the days you have the highest probability of getting pregnant and you must avoid having any unprotected sex during that time. For this, you need to very carefully track your period cycle for a few months before you can find out the dates you're not fertile.
2. What can be eaten to prevent pregnancies?
There are a few food items you can have to prevent pregnancies. These include papayas, ginger, apricots, figs, cinnamon, vitamin C tablets amongst many others. However, none of these foods guarantees anything so it wouldn't be wise to only depend on them.
3. How can I stop pregnancy after five days?
After five days, even the emergency contraceptive pills do not work. After this time frame, you'll have to take a pill to end the early pregnancy. However, in order for this medicine to be effective your last period start date needs to be less than nine weeks ago.
4. Can pre-ejaculate get you pregnant?
Usually no, but some sperm can actually exit your body with the precum so it's never wise to take that risk.
5. Can I pee right after I have sex to avoid pregnancy?
First things first, you pee out of your urethra and you get pregnant by the sperm entering the vagina. Since they're not in the same place, peeing cannot prevent pregnancies as it can't rinse out sperm from your body.
Images: Shutterstock, Giphy
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