People have used birth control methods for thousands of years. Today, we have many safe and effective birth control methods available to us. Contraception helps prevent unwanted pregnancies, space out births and protect against STDs, including HIV/AIDS.
There are different contraceptive methods, each with unique advantages and disadvantages.
Barrier methods are designed to prevent sperm from entering the uterus. These methods are removable and may be an option for women who cannot use hormonal methods of contraception. The types of barrier methods include male and female condoms, diaphragms, cervical caps, contraceptive sponges and spermicides. In addition to providing birth control, male and female condoms protect against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Condoms may be used alone, or in addition to other methods either as backups or to prevent STDs.
Hormonal methods of birth control use hormones to regulate or stop ovulation and prevent pregnancy. Hormones can be introduced into the body through various methods, including pills, injections, skin patches, transdermal gels, vaginal rings, intrauterine systems, and implantable rods. Depending on the types of hormones that are used, these pills can prevent ovulation; thicken cervical mucus, which helps block sperm from reaching the egg; or thin the lining of the uterus.
Emergency contraceptive pills are hormonal pills, taken either as a single dose or in two doses spaced 12 hours apart, that are intended for use in the event of unprotected intercourse.
An IUD (intrauterine device) is a small, T-shaped device that is inserted into the uterus to prevent pregnancy. A health care provider inserts the device. An IUD can remain in the woman’s body and function effectively for many years at a time.
Surgical methods (sterilization and vasectomy) provide long-term contraception for those who have completed their families and don’t want to have any more children. Sterilization is a permanent form of birth control that either prevents a man from releasing sperm or prevents a woman from getting pregnant. A health care provider must perform the sterilization procedure, which usually involves surgery. These procedures usually are not reversible.
Family planning services and programs have important health, social, financial, environmental and economic benefits. Decades of research have shown that better access to contraception helps people to avoid pregnancies they do not want and to plan and space the pregnancies they do want. The purpose of family planning is to make sure that the desired resources are available for parents to give their children a better quality of life.
The Indian government is taking efforts on a large scale to promote family planning. However, though the usage of family planning methods has almost tripled, the national fertility rate is still high enough to cause long-term population growth. India adds around 1,000,000 people to its population every 15 days.