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Sunday, January 01, 2017

Family Planning and Birth Control Methods

Written by: Nnadozie and Darlington

Child Abuse is not an uncommon sight in Nigeria Today. It is not uncommon to see a family of 6-10 children that could hardly eat 3 square meal a day. Why do some couples end up giving birth to children they can hardly cater for? The answer is obviously lack of family planning.

Most health and family councilors encourage family planning because of the benefits:
It reduces child abuse act, lessen the burden of parental care on married couple, keeps a mother in a healthy and good outlook, reduces financial burden on the father.

For thousands of years, many married couple have used birth control available to achieve such aim. Below are the lists of modern birth control methods available, how they work, their advantages and disadvantages. A couple has the choice of choosing which best for them.

1. ABSTINENCE: Abstinence means a decision not to have any kind of sexual activity that involves an exchange of body fluids (semen and vaginal fluids). This includes oral, vaginal, and anal sex. Not all people who choose to abstain are virgins. You might have had sex and then decide to stop having sex for a while for your own personal reasons.

Why people choose to be abstinent: There are many reasons why people choose to be abstinent. For some it is about following religious, personal or moral beliefs. Others abstain because it is the safest way to avoid getting an STI, HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B or an unwanted pregnancy. It’s really about setting your own limits and feeling good about your decision. You don’t have to have sex just because everyone else is doing it! And who knows, you may find new ways to be intimate with partner without having sex.

How effective is it: it is 100% effective, the easiest and safest method to avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. If abstinence is the decision you’ve made, remember; abstinence takes a commitment from you and your partner. Think ahead before getting into a sexual situation. Talk with your partner about your decision and discuss other ways to be intimate.

2. BIRTH CONTROL PILL: It is an oral medication that a woman takes to prevent unwanted pregnancy. It is also known as ‘the pill’. The birth control pill contains hormones that prevent pregnancy by stopping ovulation. Making the mucus in the cervix thicker so that it’s hard for sperm to travel into the cervix. Making the lining of the uterus thinner so that it is harder for a fertilized egg to attach to the uterus.

Birth Control Pills

How effective is it: When used the right way, the pill is 92 to 99.7% effective in preventing pregnancy. But it must be taken at the same time every day. If you miss a day or two, you increase your chances of getting pregnant. The birth control pill alone does not protect you against STIs or HIV/AIDS. Using the pill and condoms at the same time can reduce your chances of getting an STI or HIV/AIDS.

The Side Effects: They are different for everyone, but they include: Bleeding between periods (break-through bleeding), Upset stomach or nausea, Weight gain/bloating caused by water retention, Headaches, Mood swings, Sore breasts, lighter or shorter periods, or missed periods, Decrease in some vitamin levels – so make sure you eat a well-balanced diet.

If you’re taking the pill, you should not smoke. Though rare, women who take the pill and smoke have a higher chance of developing a blood clot. There are signs that might indicate a blood clot, so get to know them: severe leg pain in the calf or thigh, severe chest pain, cough, shortness of breath, severe headache, dizziness, weakness and numbness., loss of vision or blurring, slurring of speech. If you have any signs of a blood clot, see a doctor right away.

How to use it: Birth control pills come in pack for 21 or 28 days.
If you get a 21 days pill pack: You take one pill at the same time each time each day for 21 days – these pills contain hormones. Then for 7 days you don’t take any pills – you should get your period during this time. Start a new pack of pills after 7 days, whether or not your period is finished.

If you get a 28 days pill pack: You take one pill at the same time each day for 28 days – for 21 days you take hormone pills and for 7 days you take pills that do not contain hormones. Your chances of getting pregnant are not increased during the 7 days you’re not on hormone pills. Your period will start during those last 7 pills.

Start a new pack of pills whether or not your period is finished. If you’re taking pills, you’ll need to also use condoms assuming you are taking certain prescriptions or over the counter medications (drug interference is unavoidable), starting the birth control pill for the first time, missed taking the pill for a day or so, you vomit or have diarrhea within one hour of taking a pill (it may not have gone into your system).

Advantages: When used correctly, the pill is 97 to 99% effective in preventing pregnancy. You will have regular period and might experience less bleeding.

Disadvantages: It does not protect you or your partner against STIs or HIV/AIDS. You need a prescription from a doctor to get the pill. If you have certain health problems you may not be able to take the pill. It can be expensive, especially at pharmacies.

3. CONDOMS: A condom is a thin covering, usually made of latex rubber. Which is put over a Man’s erect penis during oral, vaginal or anal sex. It prevents blood, semen or vaginal fluids from passing from one person to another. There’s also a female condom available. Condoms come in all sorts of colours, shapes, sizes, flavors and textures to suit all tastes. You can get them with no lubricant, a water-based or silicone lubricant, a spermicidal lubricant.

How effective is it: When used the right way, a condom is 85% to 98% effective in preventing pregnancy. If used correctly, condoms can reduce your chances of getting STI and HIIV/AIDS.

The Side Effects: You can experience skin irritation. There’s possibility of an allergic reaction to latex or spermicides. A woman can develop vaginitis due to the additives in some flavoured condoms. Decreased sensation – you can put a drop of water – based lubricant in the tip of the condom to increase sensation.

How to Use a Male Condom: Wait until your penis gets erect, then carefully tear open the condom package. Don’t! Use your teeth to open the wrapper! Watch out for rings and sharp fingernails that can weaken it. If you have a foreskin, pull it back before putting the condom on your penis.

Steps in Using a Condom
You can put a drop of water – based lubricant in the tip of the condom to increase sensation. Squeeze the tip of the condom to let out the air and then place it over the tip of the penis. Unroll the condom all the way down to the base of your penis.

After you ejaculate, hold the condom at the base of your penis and pull out before your penis gets soft – this will help stop the condom from slipping off. Be careful that no semen leaks out. Tie the condom and throw it in the garbage. Do not flush it down the toilet as it will probably clog the plumbing! Never re–use a condom!

Things to remember when using it: Always check the expiry date on the condom package. Store condoms at room temperature, away from sunlight or extreme heat. Use water based lubricants like Astrolide, K-Y jelly etc. Don’t use oil-based lubricants like Vaseline, mineral oil, baby oil, vegetable oil, massage oil etc. as they can weaken the latex used in condoms.

When choosing coloured or flavoured condoms, make sure they’re not being sold as novelties items as they might not prevent pregnancy or protect you from STIs. For anal sex, use extra-strength condoms and lots of water-based lubricant. You can buy condoms from a pharmacy.

4. FEMALE CONDOM: It’s a thin, soft plastic condom that goes inside of the vagina. It is a shallow, dome-shaped cup with a flexible rim. It is made of silicone. You insert it into the vagina. When it is in place, it covers the cervix.

How effective is it: When use correctly, it’s about 80% - 95% effective at preventing pregnancy. The female condom is the only female-controlled birth control method that also protects against STIs and HIV/AIDS.

Advantages: Its latex free so there’s less chance of an allergic reaction. When used correctly, it helps protect against pregnancy and STIs – including HIV/AIDS. Its 40% stronger than latex. Unlike male condoms, you can use any lubricant (water or oil-based). You don’t need a prescription to get it. Some women find that the outer ring stimulates the clitoris and increases pleasure. Some men say it increases their pleasure and sensitivity.

Disadvantages: The outer ring hangs out about 2.5cm outside the vagina. Friction can cause noises during sex – extra lubricant will help. It’s rare yet possible for the penis to enter the vagina besides the condom. It’s more expensive than male condom.

5. FERTILITY AWARENESS: (Knowing when you can get pregnant) A woman’s body gives out signs that tell her when she’s at her most fertile period and most likely to get pregnant. So if you read the signs in your body, like when you’re ovulating, you can help make birth control methods work better and reduce your chances of getting pregnant. It will also help you if you and your partner are trying to get pregnant.

It may take 3-4 months for you to get to know your body and recognize your own signs of ovulation, so as a backup, use condom or other birth control methods.

Remember: Choosing to use condom every time you have sex can prevent pregnancy and lower your chances of getting an STI and HIV/AIDS.

6. WITHDRAWAL: Just like it sound; it’s removing the penis from the vagina during sex just before ejaculation takes place. It’s also known as “Pulling out”.
How effective is it: The effectiveness of this act in preventing pregnancy depends on a few Ifs, ANDs and BUTs…

IF your partner recently ejaculated (cum) and urinates to get rid of any left-over sperm AND the tip of the penis is wiped dry of lubricating fluid before penetration. The penis IS withdrawn BEFORE ejaculation. Ejaculation (cum) occurs outside the vagina and well away from the vaginal opening.

THEN withdrawal has about a 73 to 96% effectiveness rate in preventing pregnancy.
But remember: it does not protect you or your partner against STIs or HIV/AIDS. Controlling the withdrawal can be tricky and therefore very risky. Even if you don’t ejaculate (cum) in the vagina, pre-ejaculated fluid does contain sperm and could cause pregnancy.

Other methods of birth control include:
- Contraceptive Foam
- Depo-provera (Depo)
- Emergency Contraceptive Pill/ Morning After Pill (ECP)
- Transdermal-contraceptive patch (the patch)
- Intra-Uterine Device (IUD)
- Lactation Amenorrhea Method (LAM)
- Sponge
- Vaginal Contraceptive Film (VCF)

(These methods listed below is more advanced than the other methods of birth control and thus requires extra-assistance by a qualified specialist-physician, consult your physician for more details)

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