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For many women and couples at a certain stage of life, family planning becomes an important topic. People looking to start a family have a ton of factors to consider, from timing to financials and other concerns.
In some cases, physical concerns are at the top of the list. Some men and women have issues with fertility, especially as they age, and plenty of couples struggle with the other end of that spectrum: birth control. That’s right, a big part of family planning is knowing when you’re not trying to have a baby. Unplanned pregnancies aren’t wrong by any means, but they do often come with more issues than planned ones.
For couples in family planning stages and for women of all ages, birth control can be important. There are several birth control methods depending on your situation. Let’s look at some of the facts involved.
Birth control is any way of preventing pregnancy. Methods can range from temporary to permanent, and from low-maintenance to highly intrusive procedures. Because they deal with hormones and other complex parts of the body, the right approach to birth control will change from person to person.
There are many kinds of birth control available, both for men and women. Some involve pills or other medications put into the body, and others are devices or methods used to stop the process of pregnancy.
Types birth control are generally split into four groups:
Barrier Birth Control: A woman becomes pregnant when sperm from a male reaches and impregnates an egg in her body, and barrier birth control is designed to block this process. The most common form of barrier birth control are male condoms, which stop sperm from entering the woman’s body. They are available at any pharmacy or drugstore.
Types of barrier birth control include:
Condoms are the most popular form of barrier birth control – not just because they’re simple and convenient to find, but also because they can help prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
Hormonal Birth Control: Condoms and other types of barrier birth control block sperm from reaching the egg, but hormonal birth control stops the egg from releasing in the first place. Hormones in the body cause the eggs to be released, and the goal here is to change these hormones so this doesn’t happen.
All birth control pills fall in this category, and so do items like patches, shots and vaginal rings. Hormonal birth control is about 90 percent effective with normal use, though this number would be closer to 99 percent if people always used it correctly. All hormonal birth control requires a prescription from a doctor.
Intrauterine Devices (IUDs): An IUD is a small plastic device inserted into the uterus by a doctor, which stays in the body and prevents pregnancy using hormones that are designed to last for up to five years. Copper wrapped IUDs are also a popular option. These types of IUDs can last up to 10 years. An IUD is about 99 percent effective.
Morning After: In emergency cases, birth control called “morning after” pills are available to help prevent pregnancy within three to five days of an event like a broken condom or unprotected sex. Certain forms of IUDs can also accomplish this same goal. These types of birth control are for emergencies only, and should not be used as regular options.
Abortion is the removal of a fetus from a woman’s body before it’s able to survive. For cases where other forms of birth control either don’t work or weren’t used, abortion may be the final option.
There are two kinds of abortion:
Three out of 10 women in the United States have an abortion by age 45 – it’s pretty common. Some states have laws that limit abortions by age or other factors, so be sure to know these for wherever you live.
It may be a cliche, but it’s never false: The true safest form of birth control is abstinence from sex.
There are also several elements of birth control that are commonly misunderstood. Many people think they’re safe from pregnancy when they aren’t, or assume certain kinds of sex (or activities before or after sex) don’t put them at risk for pregnancy. You can never be too careful when it comes to birth control, and you should never assume. If you’re worried about any details, speak to your doctor.
The Live Better Team
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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.