11 Ways To Prevent Pregnancy (And Have Protected Sex)

When it comes to birth control, we think of it as a measure we take to prevent pregnancy. But apart from protecting one from unexpected pregnancy, birth control also plays a crucial role in reducing the chances of getting sexually transmitted diseases, or STDs. However, not all birth control methods prevent STDs. Here is a guide to different ways of contraception methods and what they actually protect you from.

  1. Oral Pills

Contraceptive pills contain synthetic hormones and are taken orally in order for them to work. The way they work is suppressing ovulation. There are Progestogen Only Pills (POP) and Combined Oral Contraceptives (COC) which usually come in 21-day or 28-day packs. A cycle usually starts between the 1st and 5th day of the menstrual cycle and then go on with one tablet a day. This method is good for those who might be planning to get pregnant in less than a year and is easy to opt in and out. This method does not prevent STDs.

  1. Injectable Contraceptives

It literally means injecting synthetic hormones into one’s body. There are Progestogen Only Injectables (effective for 3 months) and Combined Injectable Contraceptives (effective for 1 month). If the first injection is given within the first 7 days of menses, it will offer immediate protection. Injection must be given regularly and at fixed intervals without interruption. It has been discussed that injectable contraceptives can impact fertility even up to a year after the last dose. Progestogen Only Injectables users could experience side effects like lower bone mass. This method does not prevent STDs.

  1. Intra-uterine Devices (IUDs)

It is a small device placed inside the uterus to prevent pregnancy. The commonly used IUDs are made of plastic wound with copper wire in the shape of a T. Different IUDs need to be changed at different intervals of 4 to 10 years. The way it works is thought to interfere with sperm and egg migration and embryo implantation. It is an effective long-term method and does not interfere love-making. The user can check whether the IUD is in place by feeling the device’s thread in her vagina. Insertion of the IUD must be performed by a trained clinical professional and regular check-up after the procedure is needed. It is good for people who do not want children for a while. This method does not prevent STDs.

  1. Male Condoms

One of the most commonly used birth control methods and a very effective way to protect both partners from STDs. The condom is worn over an erected penis to prevent sperms from entering woman’s uterus. It is relatively free of side effects and should be worn correctly during every act of sexual intercourse. People sensitive to rubber should not use condom.

  1. Female Condoms

The female condom is a thin and lubricated plastic sheath that should be placed inside the vagina before sexual intercourse. The way it works is similar to male condoms but it is worn inside a vagina instead of an erected penis. It is also an effective way to prevent both partners from getting STDs.

  1. Diaphragms and Cervical Caps

A diaphragm is a dome-shaped rubber device placed inside the vagina to cover the cervix before intercourse. It serves as a barrier to block sperms from entering the uterus. The diaphragm should not be removed at least 6-8 hours after intercourse and a pelvic examination is needed before getting one. Some users might be more prone to bladder infections and people allergic to rubber should avoid this method. This method does not protect against STDs.

  1. Spermicides

They can come in the form of foaming tablets, vaginal contraceptive film and sponge. They inactivate or kill sperms before they meet the egg. Side effects are rare but they are relatively unreliable. This method does not protect against STDs.

  1. Female Sterilisation

For those who are looking for permanent method of contraception, this is the method for you. It is a surgical process that completely stops the egg from travelling down to meet any sperms. People who have gone through the process can still get STDs if they have unprotected sex.

  1. Male Sterilisation

This is a permanent method of contraception for men. The surgical theory behind is complicated but it essentially stops male reproductive organs from producing sperms. Like female sterilisation, this method does not protect one against STDs.

  1. Periodic Abstinence

This method is for those who do not want to go through the hassle of getting a condom or being injected with hormones or just any surgical processes. The principle of this method is to avoid sexual intercourse around ovulation but this method is extremely unreliable and does not protect one against STDs.

  1. Emergency Contraception

The last barrier one can use to prevent pregnancy. The emergency pill or some call it morning-after pill is to be taken after you had sex without contraception, missed you pills or if you had a contraceptive accident such as a broken condom. The emergency pill must be used within 120 hours after unprotected sex. But if you are already pregnant, the emergency pill cannot cause abortion. And of course, it does not protect one against STDs.

Source: The Family Planning Association of Hong Kong
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