Note: Information provided on this page is for general education only, please seek medical assistance when in doubt
Birth control, also known as contraception or fertility control, are methods or devices used to prevent unwanted pregnancy and have been used since ancient times, however effective and safe methods only became available in 20th century. Planning, provision and use of birth control is also reffered as family planning.
Birth control methods include barrier methods, hormonal birth control, sterilization, intrauterine devices (IUDs), and behavioral methods that are used before or during sex on the other hand emergency contraceptives are effective for up to a few days after sex. Effectiveness of any contraceptive method or device is generally expressed as percentage of women who become pregnant using the given method during the first year and/or as a lifetime failure rate.
Most effective methods of birth control are sterilization by means of vasectomy in males and tubal ligation in females, intrauterine devices (IUDs) and implantable contraceptives, followed by a number of hormonal contraceptives including oral pills, patches, vaginal rings, and injections. Less effective methods include barriers such as condoms, diaphragms and contraceptive sponge and fertility awareness methods and the least effective methods are spermicides and withdrawal by the male before ejaculation.
Sterilization, is highly effective but is mostly irreversible while all other methods are reversible, mostly upon stopping them. Emergency contraceptives can prevent pregnancy in the few days after having unprotected sex. More importance is given for having Safe sex, such as practicing use of male or female condoms, which not only prevent unwanted pregnancy but can also help prevent sexually transmitted infections. Some regard sexual abstinence as birth control, however is most difficult to implement particularly in younger couple.
Most effective methods are those that are long acting and do not require regular health care visits. Surgical sterilization, implantable hormones, and intrauterine devices all have first-year failure rates of less than 1%. Hormonal contraceptive pills, patches or vaginal rings, and the lactational amenorrhea method (LAM), if used strictly, can also have first-year failure rates of less than 1%. While incorrect usage of these methods typical has first-year failure rates are considerably high, at 9%. Other methods such as condoms, diaphragms, and spermicides have higher first-year failure rates.
While all methods of birth control have some potential adverse effects, the risk is less than that of pregnancy. After stopping or removing many methods of birth control, including oral contraceptives, IUDs, implants and injections, the rate of pregnancy during the subsequent year is the same as for those who used no birth control.
Before using any contraceptive method other than using condoms for birth control, it is highly advisable to consult your local health care personal; in those with specific health problems certain forms of birth control methods cannot be used. However for women who are otherwise healthy, many methods of birth control should not require a medical examination including birth control pills, injectable or implantable birth control, and condoms. Usually, a pelvic examination, breast examination, or blood test is conducted before doctor can prescribe best contraceptive method suitable for you or your partner.
Some cultures limit or discourage access to birth control because they consider it to be morally or politically undesirable.