With a whole array of contraceptive devices available in the market today, it is not surprising for me to be asked this question very frequently- what are my options? Which one is best? What are the side effects? So today I will touch upon the various options available and their pros and cons.
Birth control pills
These are over the counter pills readily available at your local pharmacy. Over the years, newer and newer versions of these pills have become available- with smaller hormone doses, fewer side effects, and increased effectiveness. Currently, there are two forms available in the market- a combined pill which includes both estrogen and progesterone and mini pills which are progesterone only pills. Both are equally effective and prevent pregnancy with almost 99% certainty. However, the combined pills are safer in terms of efficacy if a dose is missed. On the other hand, missing even a single dose of the mini pill may result in contraceptive failure.
These are the most readily available form of contraception in the market and provide protection immediately with use. The other added advantage is the protection from sexually transmitted diseases like HIV, HBV, syphilis, and gonorrhea. Condoms are also almost 99% effective in preventing pregnancy when used correctly.
However, both partners need to be aware of any latex allergies that one or both of them may have since most condoms available in the market today are made of latex. If that is the situation, you may either look for condoms made of polyurethane or lambskin. If neither is available, choose another method of contraception.
Female condoms are now making an appearance in the market but their sales are low and efficacy is still debatable.
Intra-Uterine Devices (IUD)
IUDs are the best form of contraception for women who have borne at least one child. These are placed directly in the uterus by an experienced gynaecologist and provide contraception with almost 99% success rate for up to 10 years depending on the type of IUD used.
There are two main types of IUDs available in the market- Hormonal IUD and Non-hormonal IUD.
The commonest hormonal IUD available is called Mirena which releases small amounts of progesterone in the body every day to prevent pregnancy. Moreover, it also helps women with severe menstrual cramps or excessive bleeding. Mirena once inserted can last for up to 10 years.
The non-hormonal IUD is made of copper which is inhibitory to sperms and therefore prevents pregnancy. The Cu-T IUD is very effective and lasts for 5-10 years.
available in few areas, contraceptive implants are strips impregnated with progesterone hormone that can be placed in parts of the body other than the uterus, for example, the arm and release a small quantity of hormone to prevent pregnancy. Although effective, they have not become very popular in India yet.
For couples who have completed their families or have decided they do not want any more children, permanent sterilization is the best option available. While the male partner can opt for Non-Scalpel Vasectomy (NSV)- a nonsurgical OPD procedure, the female partner can opt for ligation of the fallopian tubes either laparoscopically or through open surgery through a small incision on either side of the abdomen.
This method is 100% successful and non-reversible. Hence, the couple needs to be sure of their decision to not want more children before they opt for this.
For more information, and the best option for you as a couple, feel free to contact me on Dr. Suneet Tayal.