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What are the methods of contraception?
Although contraception is a crucial subject in our society, it sometimes remains taboo. However, many contraceptive solutions exist that are suitable for women and men. Everyone can find a contraceptive method that suits their body and preferences. Not all methods of contraception are suited to the needs and difficulties of everyone. No single best contraception exists. Thus, here is a short guide listing all the contraceptive solutions, from the pill to the condom and from IUDs to emergency contraception.
The male condom is the safest and least invasive option in terms of contraceptive methods. This soft sheath, often made of latex, prevents the passage of fluids and especially semen. This protection placed on the penis blocks the sperm from reaching the egg. This method prevents fertilisation. The condom protects against HIV and other STIs (sexually transmitted infections). This method does not require a prescription.
The female condom
The female condom is a polyurethane or nitrile sheath with a ring at each end. The condom must be placed in the vagina, like a tampon. It can be put on a few hours before intercourse. This method also protects against STIs and, therefore, HIV. This method does not require a prescription.
The vaginal ring
The vaginal ring is flexible. It is placed in the vagina like a tampon. It can be left in the vagina for 3 weeks. It must be removed at the end of the 3rd week to induce menstruation. It is an ideal contraceptive for people who do not want to think about taking their contraception. It is only available on prescription and does not protect against STIs.
The cervical cap
The cervical cap is a silicone or latex dome that covers the entire cervix. It can be applied just before intercourse or a few hours before. It can be kept in the vagina for up to 8 hours after intercourse. It is also a reusable method. The cap is only available on prescription and does not protect against STIs.
Two types of IUDs are available. Although they use the same method, in the sense that the IUD is inserted into the uterus by a gynaecologist or midwife, they are not the same type of contraception. In both cases, you do not need to consider contraception between 4 and 10 years. Fertility is not compromised by using the IUD once it has been removed.
The non-hormonal copper IUD
The copper IUD is a suitable alternative for women who do not wish to use hormonal contraception. It has no impact on the body. However, the copper creates an environment that is not conducive to the implantation of an egg. Moreover, the hormone cycle is not disrupted.
This method is not recommended for people with heavy or painful periods. The IUD can worsen these problems.
The hormonal IUD
Unlike the traditional IUD, the hormonal version, as its name suggests, significantly impacts the hormonal cycle. It diffuses progesterone, a hormone that causes the endometrium to atrophy. The tissue is thickened by the hormones, preventing sperm from entering the uterus and thus from fertilising an egg.
This method tends to affect the menstrual cycle. Menstrual periods are generally less abundant or non-existent.
The contraceptive pill
This hormonal method does not protect against HIV and STIs. A condom must be used in addition to this contraceptive method to avoid STIs.
The daily pill
Several types of contraceptive pills are taken daily. In all cases, they are prescribed by a doctor.
The progestin-only pill
Progestin-only pills come in blister packs of 28 tablets that must be taken every day without a break. Some women keep a regular menstrual cycle; others no longer have periods. This depends on the individual.
In both cases, you must not forget to take your pill. If you forget to take your pill for more than 12 hours, you no longer have contraceptive protection. It is therefore important to take the pill regularly.
Progestin-only pills are either composed of desogestrel or levonorgestrel. The first component blocks spermatozoa by thickening cervical secretions and suppressing ovulation. The second component also thins the endometrium.
The oestroprogestogenic pill
The oestroprogestogenic pill comprises several hormones:
- Synthetic progesterone.
This type of pill is taken for 21 days. For 7 days, no more pills must be taken. This is the week of your period.
Hormonal emergency contraception
Emergency contraception is better known as the morning-after pill. This pill cannot replace regular contraception. It is only useful in the event of sexual intercourse without contraception. The pill should be taken as soon as possible after intercourse, up to a maximum of 72 hours. This pill can be obtained without a prescription. It should only be used in an emergency.
Other hormonal methods
Like the pill, these methods do not protect against STIs, including HIV.
The contraceptive implant comprises a small cylindrical stick 2 mm wide and 4 cm long. It is inserted into the arm. The implant works like the pill in that it is hormonal. However, it is convenient because you do not need to think about it, unlike the pill. It lasts for 3 years. This method is prescribed and fitted by a doctor.
The patch is a solution that comprises sticking a patch on the skin that delivers hormones for 3 weeks. The patch must be removed at the end of the 3rd week. During the 4th week, no patch should be applied. This corresponds to the week of menstruation. This is a less invasive solution than the implant but more practical than the pill for women who cannot take their pill regularly. This solution is also prescribed by a doctor.
A spermicide is a much less well-known solution. However, it exists and is effective. Spermicides are produced as sponges, eggs or, more commonly, gels. They destroy the sperm that enters the vagina. The gel should be applied a few minutes before intercourse. This solution can be obtained without a prescription from a pharmacy and is not reimbursed.
The diaphragm as a supplement
It is common to supplement a silicone or latex diaphragm with spermicide to make sex safer. This is placed in the vagina and prevents sperm from passing through. The diaphragm is prescribed by a doctor or midwife. It can only be supplied on prescription.
Natural methods also exist. These usually involve removing the penis from the vagina before ejaculation. Other natural methods are based on the menstrual cycle. However, these methods require good knowledge and observation of one's cycles. Therefore, it is essential to find a contraceptive method that is suitable for you by consulting a health professional.