India is a country of diverse cultures, gradually emerging as a powerful economy with women beginning to play a significant role in the development of the nation.
Women in India constitute to nearly about 50% of its population. The perception and the role of women in present India are formed on the basis of traditions and certain beliefs.
One such belief is that birth control is primarily a woman's responsibility. Though both partners are equally responsible, if unintended pregnancy occurs; more often than not, women have to bear the responsibility of controlling it.
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It is important that couples discuss birth control before having sex; but most of the times, individuals are embarrassed or they feel awkward to bring up the topic.
However, since women are the ones who conceive and carry the baby and play a key role in caring for the child, it is essential that they be extra-cautious.
The most effective way to control pregnancies is to abstain from sexual intercourse. This is because no single birth control measure is 100 per cent effective, 100 per cent free of side effects, absolutely safe, or a financially viable option.
In the past, women had little or no control over fertility. Awareness or accessibility to birth control measures was almost non-existent.
Though there is still dearth of comprehensive sex education, over the past century, there has been a steady rise in the accessibility to birth control measures.
But the question that still lurks is whether women should really be solely responsible for pregnancy prevention?
The responsibility of birth control has several financial, medical and social implications.
Though there are many birth control methods that are made exclusively for men, majority of them are intended for women.
There are five basic control measures for men. These include condoms, abstinence, vasectomy, withdrawal and outercourse.
On the other hand, the plethora of options for females include condoms, tubal ligation, IUD's, the Pill, the Nuva Ring, the Patch, diaphragm, cervical cap, Plan B, spermicidal jellies/foams, the sponge, Depo-Provera, outercourse and abstinence.
The availability of greater birth control options for women is a clear indication of the greater role for birth control thrust on women.
The birth control measures tend to be quite cost-intensive. In recent times, oral contraceptives have become a more popular choice due to the convenience of intake.
Birth control pills, in addition to preventing pregnancy, can have some positive effects on health. This is beneficial for women who suffer from infrequent or repeated periods.
They also curb the risk of ovarian cysts by preventing ovulation. Birth control pills provide considerable protection against pelvic inflammatory diseases. It can control the progression of symptomatic endometriosis.
Despite the myriad benefits of oral contraceptives, it also a known fact that more than 40% of the women who take birth control pills will have side effects of one kind or the other during the first 3 months of use.
Meanwhile, taking oral contraceptives for more than 3 years can significantly increase the risk of glaucoma. It could also lead to nutrient deficiencies.
Despite the hits and misses, contraceptives have become the means to avoid unwanted pregnancies in modern times.
However, it is quite disappointing, as the main focus on preventing pregnancy consistently depends on the women.
An integral part of achieving gender equality depends on giving equal leverage to both men and women in the sexual arena. Because it takes two people to result into a pregnancy and it should include an effort from both the individuals to prevent one as well.
MD (PAED), MRCPCH (UK), FRCPCH (UK).
Dr. Praveen Venkatagiri, has worked in various prestigious hospitals in London as a Specialist Registrar and completed his CCT.He is currently with the Ovum Hospitals, Bangalore