Contraceptive Devices: An Overview
With numerous contraceptives available in the market, the issue lies in not whether to use them or not, but rather on what device to choose and use. For the sake of discussion, some contraceptives are classified under the barrier birth control method. Other methods, such as the pill and injectables, involve the introduction of substances into your system and induce hormonal changes. Abstinence, of course, is a behavioral method of birth control.
Probably the most famous and most convenient form of birth control is the male condom, commonly made of latex, but also sometimes made of polyurethane or lambskin. Latex condoms have the additional benefit of minimizing the chances of contacting STDs, and contribute to AIDS prevention. The downside of this birth control device is the need to use fresh condoms for every sexual act. Most sexually active individuals need to have at least a dozen close at hand. Keep in mind that the ones you kept on your back pocket or in your wallet for a long time are prone to breakage due to friction and heat. You need to store condoms in a cool, dry place, preferably in a drawer.
Its counterpart, the female condom, is made of polyurethane. The closed end is inserted into the vagina and the open end is left outside, covering the labia. Though decidedly more expensive and harder to find in stores, female condoms are quite effective in preventing pregnancy and most STDs when inserted and used appropriately. However, it might take a little while to get used to and some men might get turned off by this barrier birth control device.
Women also have the option of getting a cervical cap. It is a device made of latex and, after coating with spermicide, is inserted into the vagina and up into the cervix. It is an effective birth control device in such as way that it blocks the sperm from getting into the womb. Some women might actually prefer cervical cap because you don’t have to change it even if you have sex several times in one setting. However, a woman would need to see a doctor to obtain it and for instructions on how to fit it. This device must not remain in the body for more than 48 hours, to avoid toxic shock syndrome, and would need to be replaced yearly.
A diaphragm is a device similar to the cervical cap, though made of flexible rubber. Though acknowledged as effective in birth control, the user would need to take it out 24 hours after use to avoid toxic shock syndrome. Caution is still necessary, as the diaphragm may have the tendency to slip especially if put on incorrectly. Some women also report of getting urinary tract infection because of this device.
Another barrier birth control device is the sponge, made of polyurethane and is placed on the cervix before the sex act. It also contains spermicide and is quite effective, as the sperm is blocked from entering the womb. As with the diaphragm and the cervical cap, this birth control device has the risk of toxic shock syndrome when not removed after several hours.
There is also the contraceptive film, which contains the spermicide nonoxynol-9. The film is placed on the cervix about an hour before sexual intercourse and quickly dissolves. Other devices with similar action are the contraceptive foam and the contraceptive suppositories. Though convenient to use, they have about 18 percent chances of pregnancy and is not highly effective against the HIV virus or other STDs. Some women complain of the foam as being messy to put on and have an unsavory taste. These inserted devices also need to be reapplied before each and every sexual act in order to achieve efficacy in birth control.
Though these inserted contraceptives do afford women control over their sexual lives, it is still best to ask your partners to do their part and use some forms of contraceptives themselves, like the use of condoms. Insist on the use of birth control devices as a sign of maturity and deference to the overall health of both partners.