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How To Prevent Unintended Pregnancy? Tips And Guide To Contraception

Sexually active couples who want to avoid pregnancy or prevent unintended pregnancy must be aware of the birth control options or contraceptives. An unintended pregnancy or pregnancy that is unwanted affects women worldwide, along with their families and society.

A study says that a person can become pregnant even if they had unprotected sex just once. This could be due to failed contraceptives, not using contraceptives at all, missing on birth control pills, missing the last short of birth control injections and less commonly, forced intercourse. [1]

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The best way to avoid getting pregnant is access to contraceptive services so that women can make their own reproductive choices. One of those services is abortion, which is safe and effective in preventing unwanted childbirth, yet is not advisable due to its long-term negative health effects, that even includes infertility and maternal death. Therefore, contraception is the best way to avoid pregnancy.

Here are some of the tips and guides to prevent unintended pregnancy. Remember, it is always good to consult a medical expert to understand the use of contraception, especially mechanical and chemical contraceptive barriers for birth control.

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1. Condoms, For Males And Females

Condoms, for both males and females, are latex which is used as barrier contraception to prevent the entering of sperm into the uterus. They not only help prevent pregnancy but also the spread of sexually transmitted diseases like hepatitis, including HIV, if used correctly during oral, vaginal and anal sex.

When condoms are used by both males and females during intercourse, it helps provide dual contraception and the chances of getting pregnant may reduce to least. [2]

2. Doing Sex During Menstruation

Studies say that sperm can survive in the fallopian tube for up to 3-5 days and the egg takes around 12-24 hours to go into the fallopian tube after ovulation. Though, a woman with a regular menstrual cycle ovulates nearly 14 days after her periods, in many cases, there are fewer chances of getting pregnant, even if the intercourse is done during or 3-5 days after the periods.

However, someone with a shorter menstrual cycle is more likely to get pregnant from sex without contraception as they have had ovulation quite early. [3]

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3. Using Cervical Cap

A cervical cap is another barrier method to prevent unintended pregnancy. The cervical cap fits over the cervix and acts as a mechanical contraception barrier by blocking the passage of sperm directly into the uterus through the cervical os.

However, the cap is not suggested to be worn during periods or any kind of vaginal bleeding. Therefore, during menstruation, other contraceptives like condoms are used until the periods get over. [4]

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4. Birth Control Pills

Birth control pills are the most commonly prescribed contraception types and are used by women aged between 15-44 years as a choice to prevent unwanted pregnancy. They are mainly composed of progesterone and oestrogen, in which the prior helps prevent pregnancy, while the latter controls menstrual bleeding.

Birth control pills must be used after being prescribed by a medical expert and should be taken at the same time every day. [5] The CDC says that such pills typically have a failure rate of seven per cent.

5. Emergency Contraceptive Pills (ECP)

They are similar to birth control pills, but come in high doses and are not suggested to be taken regularly, unlike birth control pills. A study has shown that ECPs aren't 100 per cent effective in preventing pregnancy, but may reduce the chance by 75 per cent.

They can be taken up to five days of unprotected sex, however, if taken early, it is best. Also, ECP is not an abortion pill, meaning it may not help if you have already found out that you are pregnant. [6]

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6. Using The ‘Pull Out' Method

The 'pull out' or 'withdrawal' or 'coitus interruptus' method is controversial, but is still an effective way for birth control. In this method, the penis is withdrawn from the vagina and away from the woman's genitals just before the ejaculation to prevent the entering of sperm into the vagina.

The method requires self-control and is quite risky as the pre-ejaculation fluid may also contain sperm and can increase the risk of getting pregnant. Also, this method does not protect against STIs. [7]

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7. Intrauterine Devices

Intrauterine devices like Levonorgestrel intrauterine system (LNG IUD) or Copper T IUD come under contraceptive methods that involve placing the device inside the uterus by the doctor to prevent pregnancy.

The IUD releases small amounts of progesterone each day and is effective for up to 3-6 years depending on its type. It is considered to be 99 per cent effective with a failure rate of just 0.08% and 0.02%, respectively. [8]

8. Contraceptive Shots

Like birth control pills, contraceptive shots or injections are birth control injections with the two hormones, progesterone and oestrogen, which are effective in avoiding pregnancy as long as the woman wants. An FDA approved injection Depo Provera is effective for three months at a dose of 150 mg. After three months, the injection is given again as per the wish of the woman.

Remember, the injective should be given only to those women who are not pregnant at the time of starting the shot, as it may cause complications to the fetus. [9]

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9. Contraceptive Implant

A study says that the contraceptive implant is highly effective for preventing ectopic pregnancy and is a long-acting reversible method. It is a flexible plastic rod that is placed under the skin of the upper arm. The implant releases progesterone that helps thicken the mucus and suppress ovulation as well. A contraceptive implant can be removed anytime and quickly brings back fertility when discontinued. However, the method is not for people with certain medical conditions like blood clots or diseases. [10]

10. Permanent Birth Control Methods

It includes methods called tubectomy and vasectomy. In tubectomy, the fallopian tubes of women are tied or closed to prevent the fertilisation of eggs and sperm and thus, prevent pregnancy. In a vasectomy, the supply of sperm is halted by sealing or cutting the tubes that carry them.In this way, the sperm stays in the testicles and get absorbed by the body.

These are the permanent birth control methods and are usually carried out when the couples do not desire to have more children.

To conclude

Sometimes, due to contraceptive failures or missing birth control doses, pregnancy can happen. Therefore, if you doubt that you may get pregnant, it is good to consider an emergency contraceptive option, followed by an at-home pregnancy test. Remember, to do the test on the first day itself if you missed your period and if you have irregular periods, consider doing it for three weeks. Consult a medical expert in case you get pregnant and avoid self-medicating.