Birth control has steadily gained popularity since the ushering of the modern age. People have become more "open minded" and with the advent of using sex to sell, more and more people – who are not yet ready to become parents – are sexually active. But birth control is also very helpful when planning a family, as well as to prevent spreading diseases. Birth control has since been called many names, such as contraception, fertility control, pregnancy prevention and family planning. Basically, birth control methods are used to prevent the sperm from reaching the egg (fertilization) or to prevent the fertilized egg from reaching the uterus and starting to grow.
Most birth control methods available today are centered on the woman, which should not be so, since there are two human being involved. Apart from that, birth control methods are not 100% effective in preventing pregnancy and protection from sexually transmitted diseases. However, new methods of birth control are being developed. Eventually, there will be birth control methods that will center on men or both. And hopefully, we will be able to develop birth control methods that can protect us perfectly from sexually transmitted diseases. Right now, the only 100% safe birth control method is abstinence.
Natural birth control methods
If you are sexually active, but do not wish to use artificial contraceptives, there are several natural birth methods you can choose from. Natural birth control methods basically mean you do not make use of any ‘manufactured’ instrument or drug to prevent pregnancy. Natural birth control also involves abstinence from sex during times when a woman is fertile. Here are some natural birth control methods:
Fertility awareness method (FAM) – is based on the woman’s ovulation period. For FAM to be effective, you must watch out for signs and symptom which signal that ovulation is about to occur or has occurred. Normally, the egg is released every 14 weeks (give or take a couple of days), before a woman’s next menstrual period. However, an egg can live up to 3 to 4 days. And sperm can live anywhere between 48 to 72 hours.
Which means when measuring the actual time during which a woman can get pregnant is measure in week, not days or hours? Using the FAM birth control method can be a bit tedious, requiring continuous commitment to keeping track of signs and days. Not to mention the considerable self control (abstinence when fertile). But it maybe well worth it since FAM is 98% effective. And though FAM is originally developed as a birth control method, it can also be used to promote fertility and conception.
Calendar rhythm method
The calendar method is based on a calculating a woman’ fertile period. The average length of a woman’s menstrual cycle is 28 days, add or subtract about 2 days. Here’s how you predict your fertile days, during which, you can either plan or prevent pregnancy.
Day 1 is the first day of your period. Fertile days are somewhere between day 10 to day 17 of your menstrual cycle. If your cycle is more or less than the average 28 day cycle, adjust accordingly. For example, if your cycles range between 26 to 30 days:
- Day 10 (of the 28-day menstrual cycle) – 2 (days) = 8
- Day 17 (of the 28-day menstrual cycle) + 2 (days) = 19
- Thus, your fertile period would be from Day 8 to 19.
If your cycles range between 25 and 31 days:
- Day 10 (of the 28-day menstrual cycle) – 3 (days) = 7
- Day 17 (of the 28-day menstrual cycle) + 3 (days) = 20
- Meaning, your fertile period would be from Day 7 to 20.
However, the rhythm method is may not be appropriate or enough on its own for women with irregular cycles. There will be a longer amount of time during which she can get pregnant. For those with regular menstrual cycles, you should keep tack of your cycle for at least eight months before you should try this method. Since a woman’s menstrual cycle may also vary from month to month, this should help you determine your average cycle length, and your shortest and longest cycle and how much it varies. Another way to calculate your fertile days is by knowing your longest and shortest cycle.
For example, your shortest cycle is 22 days and you longest cycle is 27 days:
- 22 – 18 (days) = 4
- 27 – 11 (days) = 16
This means that your fertile days are between days 4 to 16.
Apart from monitoring your cycle, you should not forget the lifespan of the egg and sperm. If for example you had intercourse on your last ‘safe’ day, and sperm lives anywhere between 48 to 72 (2 to 3 days), there is a great chance that your might get pregnant.
The rhythm method is about 80% effective. And it can also be used to plan pregnancy. However, although the effectiveness rate is relatively high, the imperfect use of this method results in an higher pregnancy rate of 84%.
Basal Body Temperature (BBT)
The BBT birth control method is based on a woman’s body temperature. A woman’s body temperature drops 12 to 24 hours before the egg is released from the ovary, and rises again once the egg is released.
BBT requires that a woman take her temperature every morning before she gets out of bed. However, since the temperature variance before the ovary releases an egg to the time the egg is not very substantial, about 1F or half a C, a sensitive thermometer is required. The changes in temperature should be carefully noted.
Things to remember when planning to use BBT as a birth control method:
- Take your temperature at the same time of day every day, or as close to it as possible since the normal variation is bout .2 degrees per hour. About 30 minutes before or after your usual time is okay.
- It is advisable to take BBT after at least five hours of sleep.
- You can take your temperature orally, rectally or vaginally. Just make sure to stick to your method for the entire cycle.
- Make sure you put you thermometer the same way each time (same location in your mouth, same depth rectally and vaginally).
- You should abstain from having intercourse from the time your temperature drops until 2-3 days after it rises again.
Mucus Inspection Method
This method is based on the presence or absence of mucus. This particular type of mucus is produced by a woman in response to estrogen. Normally, a woman produces larger amounts of more watery mucus just before the release of an egg from her ovary. From examining the appearance of mucus on your underwear, pads or tissue, you can actually learn to distinguish quantity and quality.
You may choose to have intercourse between your last period and the time of increased cervical mucus. It is advisable though, that you only have intercourse about every other day because the presence of seminal fluid can make it difficult for you to distinguish the quality or quantity of your mucus. When planning to use Mucus inspection as a birth control method, do not have intercourse for 3 to 4 days after noticing the greatest amount of cervical mucus.
Symptothermal method makes use of sever natural birth control methods such as calendar method, BBT and mucus inspection. Apart from these, other factors are also being considered such menstruation symptoms like cramps and breast tenderness. Cramps are common in women. Cramps are characterized by pain or discomfort in the lower abdominal area (where ovaries are located) during release of an egg.
Ovulation Prediction Kit
Quite simply, the kit measures the luteinizing hormones (LH) in the urine. LH promotes the maturation of the egg in the ovary, causing the amount LH to increase 20 to 48 hours before ovulation. LH can be detected in the urine,
12 hours after the increase.
There are now a number of ovulation prediction kits available in the market ranging from a simple test stick wherein the amount of LH present is indicated by a color change. Urine testing should start 2 to 3 days before you expect to ovulate based on your previous monthly cycles. Other kits are far more advanced. There is an electronic monitor which not only measures the amount of LH present in the urine, but also determines your 6 most fertile days in a woman’s cycle. Ovulation prediction kits were originally designed to increase the chances of becoming pregnant. But it can also indicate that a woman is about to ovulate and so abstain from intercourse or use the appropriate contraceptives.
Another name for this method is coitus interrupts. Basically the man withdraws his penis from the woman’s vagina before he ejaculates so the sperm will not enter the vagina.
There are some flaws to this method. For one, it is messy. For another, a man may release sperm before the actual orgasm. Also, it takes a considerable amount of self-control and a sense of timing to be able to withdraw before he ejaculates. Because of these flaws, this method is only 75-80% effective in preventing pregnancy.
Basically means not having any sexual intercourse. Abstaining from sexual intercourse with the opposite sex means fertilization is not possible. Abstinence from sex can be for a period of time only or for an entire lifetime. Abstinence, naturally, is 100% effective in preventing pregnancy and greatly reduces the risks of getting sexually transmitted diseases.
Abstinence, in the context of birth control, means refrain from having vaginal, oral or anal sexual activity. Sexually transmitted diseases can also be contracted in any and all of these ways. Be careful though when doing other sexual activities, like for instance mutual masturbation. Through touching each other’s genitals can transfer sperm. Though oral sex will not cause pregnancy, however, any contact can transmit organisms from kissing and so on.