Every sexual intercourse has the chance of resulting in a pregnancy. That is fine if you are ready to be parents and want to have a child. If not, you should not take chances but practice contraception. There are many contraceptive methods in use today. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages with varying effectiveness.
1. Oral contraceptive pill - a synthetic hormone pills, many varieties are available in the market to suit different women. Women on this method take one tablet every day for most or all of each month. It is very effective and is safe and acceptable to most women.
2. Contraceptive plaster (Evra) – The coolest invention in 2002. Contraceptive delivered in plaster form and last for 1 week. Patient uses 3 plaster in a month. Effectiveness is 99%. The advantage is that it has better compliance for patient and not easily forget.
3. Contraceptive injection - this is an injection form of synthetic hormone. The injection is given every two or three months depending on the type of manufacture. It is almost 100% effective, long-acting, easy to use and safe.
4. Contraceptive implants - another synthetic hormones contained in a set of capsules called Implanon. The capsules are inserted by a doctor under the skin of the woman's arm under local anaesthesia. It is almost 100% effective, long-acting lasting for 3 years and safe.
5. Condom - a thin sheath of rubber worn over the erect penis during sexual intercourse. Ejaculated semen is trapped in it and so prevented from entering the vagina. It offers good protection (75%) if the man uses it correctly and consistently. Effectiveness is increased if used together with a spermicide (90%).
6. Intra-uterine Device (IUD) - a small device which is inserted into the womb. It is inserted by a doctor. The effectiveness is 97%-98%. It can be left in the womb for 2-5 years depending on the type of IUD.
7. Spermicide - chemicals that kill sperms, available in the form of a vaginal foam, jelly, cream, pessary, tablet or aerosol. It is not very effective on its own (70%). Should be used with the condom.
8. Diaphragm - a flexible cup-shaped device made of rubber. It is out of fashion and not available in the local market.
9. Rhythm methods of safe periods - there are two rhythm methods of birth control - calendar and temperature. In both the woman abstains from intercourse for between 10th to 18th days of each menstrual cycle so as to avoid intercourse on the days when she is most likely to conceive. This method is unreliable. It depends on the regularity of the menstrual periods of the women.
10. Sterilization - this consists of an operation on the fallopian tubes to prevent eggs passing from the ovaries to the womb. It is a day surgery using laparoscope. It does not affect health or sexual relations. It is very effective and also would enhance sexual life as there is no need to worry about unwanted pregnancies. This is considered as a permanent method though failure does occur (1 in 500 cases) and re-joining of the tubes are possible using microscopic surgical technique.
Abortion is not a contraceptive method. It is often a controversial and emotional issue. Always practice family planning if you are not ready to start having a child. Prevention is better than cure. Once a woman decide to terminate the pregnancy, time becomes important.