Thursday, 21 July 2016


Babies are adorable little blessings from God. There should be a strong case for not getting pregnant sometimes. 
Maybe you’re a young newlywed who wants to focus on your career for a few years before you start popping out babies. Or you’re single and sexually active. Or you’re a mom of five and you don’t want to have any more kids because frankly everyone knows five children is already too many children. I have good news for you – there are a million and one ways to NOT be pregnant. Just read through and learn several ways not to.

A) Don’t have sex (a.k.a the close-your-legs method): It’s as simple as that. You don’t have sex, you don’t get pregnant. After Bible times, there aren’t any reported cases of Immaculate Conception to date. The benefit of this method is that you are in control of your destiny and you decide when you want to be pregnant. Another added benefit is that you also get 100% STD prevention. This two-for-one offer is not a bad deal in my books. The only potential drawback of this method is that you may have no sex life, but depending on your circumstances, this may or may not be a bad thing.
B) The pullout/withdrawal method: So for personal reasons known to you, you can’t close your legs… With this method, the male partner withdraws before ejaculating in the female. The problem with this is that you’re artificially trying to time a process that is not very convenient to halt in action. It requires a lot of faith in factors external to yourself and is only about 50-60% effective when done right. Use at your own peril. Not recommended for someone who is serious about not getting pregnant.
C) Fertility awareness method: This one’s been around for ages and is pretty much what our foremothers used before all the fancy new methods were invented (little wonder why they had dozens of kids). This method requires you to learn about your menstrual cycle, predict approximate days of ovulation and refrain from intercourse on/around those days. The problem with this method is that it relies heavily on the theoretical template of a menstrual period that is fixed in time every single month. Every woman knows that her menstrual cycle can sometimes have a mind of its own. Cycles can vary based on changes in the human body, making this method highly unreliable. Pregnancy prevention with this method is about 70% effective even for women who are intimately familiar with their menstrual cycles. Definitely not for the faint hearted.
D) Condoms: This glove/barrier device is made of latex, plastic or lambskin. Condoms work by preventing sperm from entering the vagina and traveling up the woman’s reproductive tract. They are cheap and disposable and come in different shapes, sizes, colors and flavors. There’s even a female variety J. With correct use, the condom is only about 95% effective so that means even with proper use, 5 in 100 women can still become pregnant. However, they can be used in conjunction with other birth control methods to augment pregnancy prevention. STD prevention is also an added benefit. Drawbacks include: conspicuity, requiring pre-planning and latex allergies.
E) Oral contraceptive pills (“The Pill”): This is a daily pill made of hormones (estrogen, progesterone) that women take daily. The pill works by preventing ovulation. The effectiveness of the pill in preventing pregnancy is somewhere around 95% if used correctly. Correct use implies not forgetting to take them ever. Some women set alarms on their phones. Some take it before brushing their teeth at night. Others take it first thing when they wake up. They’re cheap and they work but they do require discipline and fastidiousness. Other drawbacks include the possibility of developing harmful blood clots, cycle disruption, and breakthrough bleeding.
F) Progesterone shots: These are hormonal injections/shots given every three months subcutaneously. They also work to prevent ovulation. They are about 99% effective in preventing pregnancy. In terms of benefits, the shots are widely available, inexpensive and have the benefit of being ‘hands-free’ for practical purposes. A woman doesn’t necessarily have to do anything else right before sex to prevent pregnancy. Drawbacks include weight gain, cycle disruption, and breakthrough bleeding.
G) Hormonal implants: This is a small toothpick-sized piece of plastic placed under the skin of the upper arm. It releases micro doses of hormones to prevent ovulation throughout its life span of about 3 to 4 years. Implants are another ‘hands-free method’ in that don’t require much effort on the woman’s part. They’re about 96% effective. Drawbacks include temporary discomfort after placement, menstrual cycle fluctuation, and breakthrough bleeding.
H) Transdermal patches: These are small patches that are placed on the skin to release hormones in small amounts to prevent pregnancy. When used correctly, they are about 95% effective. They are applied monthly in a discrete location chosen by you (lower back or lower abdomen commonly) and can be kept on while you shower or swim. You remove them for a week while you have a period and then replace a fresh patch each month. Some drawbacks of this method include the fact that effectiveness can vary by positioning and may also be dependent on the woman’s body fat percentage for absorption.
I) Vaginal Rings: This is a small flexible plastic ring containing estrogen that is inserted into the vagina. It releases small amounts of hormones locally that help prevent ovulation. Like the patch, vaginal rings require a bit more participation in that they are to be inserted into the vagina monthly and left in place for three weeks. During the week you are expecting your period, you remove the ring for a couple of days. Afterwards, you insert a fresh new replacement ring. They are about 96% effective when used correctly but do have side effects including cycle disruption, nausea and headaches.
J) Intrauterine Devices (IUD): This is a little piece of plastic inserted into the uterus by your healthcare provider. They come in two forms, a hormonal version and a copper version. The hormonal version can be left in place for up to five years while the copper version for up to seven years. They are 99% effective in preventing pregnancy and are essentially hands free. Added benefits include lightening of menstrual flow in about 20% women who choose the hormonal version. Possible side effects include temporary discomfort after insertion, embedment into the uterus, uterine perforation (<0.005%) and menstrual cycle irregularities.
K) Sterilization: This method is a more permanent method of pregnancy prevention that involves disrupting the woman’s reproductive tract either by “tying” the fallopian tubes, removing a portion of the fallopian tubes or placing coils in the tubes that cause them to scar down and effectively become blocked. Sterilization is 99% effective in that only about 1-2/1000 women will ever become pregnant after being sterilized. This method is almost completely irreversible and requires a definitive decision on the woman’s part that she will never desire to be pregnant in the future.

This is not an exhaustive list by any means but it does cover most of the contemporary methods of pregnancy prevention from least to most invasive.

It’s important to note that the effectiveness of many forms of birth control depends on correct usage ALL the time. This means that when choosing a method, you should ask your prescriber to demonstrate and explain correct use so that you can make the most of your chosen method.

Each woman will find that some methods appeal to and work better for her than others. It helps to think about your lifestyle, goals and preferences to determine what works for you. Consult a physician as well if you are thinking about a certain method and want more specific advice on it.

The only pregnancies we should be having are those that are planned and desired. No woman should be pregnant in 2016 if she doesn’t actually want to be.

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