Contraception refers to prevention of unwanted pregnancy. It can be done using condoms or intrauterine devices, or with hormonal contraceptive pills that are available in two forms - regular contraception and emergency contraception.
Sex is fun, but living with the fear of pregnancy after unprotected sex is not. Contraception methods are specifically designed to help you overcome such fears and anxieties. Although it is advisable to use a condom or other physical barrier methods to prevent the risk of pregnancy, the risk of failed or forgotten contraception always remains for a woman. You need to resort to hormonal contraception when such accidents occur.
Which types of hormonal contraception are available on the market?
Emergency contraceptive pills and regular birth control pills are what you have to prevent unwanted pregnancy. Both forms of contraception are different and you should have a very clear idea about their effectiveness and limitations. Emergency contraception, as the term suggests, is a form of contraception which you need to use in an emergency situation. Majority of these pills contain a synthetic form of progesterone and work by stopping or delaying ovulation. Regular contraceptive pills, on the other hand, are for daily use.
Which form a contraception should I use?
The effectiveness of regular birth control pills is almost 100%, which suggests that given a choice, a woman would probably go for a regular pill. But then again, certain factors can encourage you to use condom on a regular basis and use emergency contraception only when needed. The inclusion of oestrogen as an active ingredient is one of the main limitations of regular hormonal birth control. Many women do not respond well to this hormone. The risk of forgetting to take a pill is also there when you are on a daily contraceptive regimen.
The type of contraception you should use is to be decided by your doctor only. Never make a contraceptive choice without consulting a qualified healthcare professional. The risk of making a wrong choice is just not worth taking.
Can contraception prevent sexually transmitted diseases?
Yes. Wearing a condom during sex can minimize the risk of sexually transmitted diseases. But pills do not help in anyway in preventing transmission of STDs. If you or your partner is a carrier of some virus that can cause an STD, it is risky to have unprotected sex in the first place.
When should I use contraception?
Most regular pills are meant to be taken from the first day of monthly menstrual cycle and continued until the pack is used. Taking the pill regularly can help you overcome bleeding, headache, cramping and other complications related to your monthly period. But the chance of bleeding between your periods is greater with regular pills.
You need to take an emergency contraceptive pill immediately after unprotected sex or contraceptive failure. The popular pills in this category provide 3-5 days within which you must take a pill to minimize the risk of getting pregnant. You can also take both types of pills under certain circumstances, as in missed doses during the first week of period. Talk to a doctor to find out more about this.
Is it safe to buy contraceptive pills over the counter?
No contraceptive pill is a fancy drug which you can take at will. So it is generally unsafe to buy them without your doctor's consent. If birth control pills are made available over the counter, risk of teen pregnancy can increase and go beyond control.