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Birth Control Overview

Being able to control if and when you become pregnant lets us enjoy sexual intercourse without worrying about an unplanned pregnancy. Knowing the ways pregnancy can happen, when you’re fertile, and choosing the right method of birth control all play an important role in preventing pregnancy.

Birth Control In History

Human beings have been practicing birth control ever since we understood how babies are conceived.

  • Ancient Egyptian women placed fermented dough and crocodile dung in their vaginas to block sperm
  • Women in ancient Rome used diaphragms made from fruits, nuts and wool
  • In ancient China, women drank lead and mercury as a form of birth control.
  • In Europe during the Middle Ages, women wore necklaces made of herbs, animal parts and material soaked in potions to avoid becoming pregnant.

Birth control was revolutionized in the 1960s with theintroduction of the birth control pill. Since then, various types of birth control methods have been made available to men and women all over the world.

The One Method That’s 100% Guaranteed …

… is abstinence. Put simply, if you don’t engage in any sexual activity, you won’t become pregnant.

Even the most reliable method of birth control doesn’t offer 100% protection. For any method to work you must follow the instructions carefully and use it faithfully every single time you have vaginal sex.

Make sure you're comfortable with the method you select. Females who don’t like touching their vaginas will have difficulty using an IUD, diaphragm, foam, ring or film. Likewise, males who’ve never been taught to use a condom properly or don’t like the way they feel are unlikely to use them each and every time they have sex.

Things to Consider When Choosing a Birth Control Method

Effect on Your Sexual Relationship

Talk with your partner about your choice of birth control methods and the possible effects they may have on your enjoyment of sex. The more you both know about the method, the more likely you’ll both take responsibility to make it work.

Side Effects and Other Factors to Consider

While some methods of birth control can cause side effects, the risks of serious complications are rare. In fact, for most women, any form of birth control has fewer risks than pregnancy and childbirth.

Know the side effects of each method of birth control. Learn how such things as smoking or certain medical conditions might increase your chances of complications when used in combination with certain birth control methods.

Other factors that might make one birth control method preferable to another include:

  • Your age
  • Whether you smoke
  • If you’ve already given birth
  • The birth control methods you’ve used in the past
  • How long you need to use birth control

Which Methods Simply Don't Work?

Douching and Breastfeeding

These so-called birth control methods are extremely unreliable.

Douching isn’t effective because some sperm might reach the uterus right after ejaculation. Also, douching can push sperm towards the uterus and increase the chance of pregnancy.

Breastfeeding doesn’t always stop your body from ovulating, so if you’re breastfeeding and not using another form of birth control you can become pregnant.

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