Birth Control is defined as various ways used to prevent pregnancy from occurring. Birth Control has been a concern for humans for thousands of years. The first contraception devices were mechanical barriers in the vagina that prevented the male sperm from fertilizing the female egg. Other methods of birth control that were used in the vagina were sea sponges, mixtures of crocodile dung and honey, quinine, rock salt and alum. Birth Control was of interest for a long time, but women did not worry to much about it because child death rates were so high. They felt they needed to have many children just for a few to survive. In the early 1800’s death rates began to drop and people began to show concern for controlling births. Early efforts to develop birth control met with resistance from religious leaders and other groups. In 1873, the U.S. Congress passed the Comstock Law, which regulated public access to birth-control devices and information for the next 60 years. This prohibition, which made it illegal to distribute any device, medicine or information designed to prevent conception, applied even to doctors.
During the early 1900’s, Margaret Sanger started the birth control movement in the United States. She and others opened clinics to provide women with information and devices. She and her followers were frequently jailed but were also able to change many laws. In 1930 the courts in New York State held that in certain cases the sale of contraceptives could be legal. This ruling by the court changed the Comstock Law. Other laws also weakened the Comstock Law. It was not until 1972 that the Supreme Court legalized birth control for unmarried persons. Methods of birth control that are available today range from permanent procedures such as surgical sterilization to temporary methods that must be used with each act of intercourse.
The first method is abstinence or no sex play, this will keep sperm from joining egg. This method is difficult for many people because they have a hard time going without sex for long periods of time and they forget to protect themselves when they stop abstaining. The outercourse method means you will have sex play without vaginal intercourse. This is also difficult for many people and they sometimes forget to protect themselves.
The most popular form of birth control in the U.S. among married couples over the age of 30 is surgical sterilization. In the woman this is done by severing and sealing off the Fallopian tubes. The tubes that carry the egg from the ovary to the uterus. The operation is called a tubal ligation. In the male, sterilization is accomplished by severing the two vas deferens. The tubes that carry sperm from the testes to the penis. This procedure is called a vasectomy. Surgical sterilization is relatively easy to accomplish for either sex and is virtually free of known side effects, it is also 100 percent effective. It should be considered a permanent method of birth control.
There are several chemical methods of birth control on the market. Oral contraceptives or the pill, are chemicals that work by altering a woman’s normal hormonal patterns so that ovulation does not occur. Their introduction in the late 1950’s revolutionized birth control. The pill is nearly 100 percent effective when taken according to directions. Some risks do exist when taking the pill but usually for women who smoke or who are over the age of 35. A newer more innovative method is called Norplant. This method consists of six small capsules which is inserted under the skin of your upper arm. The capsules constantly release small amounts of hormone that prevent the release of eggs and thicken cervical mucus to keep sperm from joining the egg. Norplant is effective for up to five years and can be easily removed at any time.
Depo-Provera is an even newer method of birth control. This is an injection of the synthetic hormone medroxyprogesterone acetate, which prevents release of egg, thicken cervical mucus to keep sperm from joining egg and prevents fertilized egg from implanting in uterus for about three months. Another type of chemical birth control are spermicidal jelly, cream or foam. Spermicides can be used without medical supervision, and must be used with each act of intercourse. These have no side affects but must be used exactly according to instructions. Spermicides can be up to 94% effective if used correctly.
Barrier methods of birth control prevent sperm from entering the uterus. These are available for both men and women. Condoms are the oldest form of birth control used by men. When used correctly they are 97% effective. Because condoms are easy to use, inexpensive, no medical supervision and have no side effects they are the most common contraceptive devices used worldwide. They are also used to prevent sexually transmitted diseases. Another barrier device is the Diaphragm and Cervical Cap used by women. The diaphragm is the most common and if used correctly is about 94% effective. These devices are inserted in the vagina with a spermicide to prevent the sperm from joining the egg. A female condom has been developed but it is said to be not as effective and a male condom and more expensive.
IUDs or Intrauterine devices are tiny metal or plastic loops or coils that are placed in the uterus. They are about 97% effective. IUDs interfere with the implantation of the fertilized egg into the lining of the uterus, some also release small amounts of progesterone into the body to prevent conception. An IUD can remain inserted for up to six years with plastic and 10 years for copper. Some women do experience severe cramps and heavy bleeding when using this device. Fertility Awareness Methods or FAMs is based on abstinence from sexual intercourse on days when fertility is probable. Its effectiveness depends on user motivation and on accurately predicting the times when the woman is ovulating. Prediction is attempted either by monitoring changes in the woman’s body temperature that signals ovulation or by identifying changes in the cervical mucus that indicates ovulation or both. Reported effectiveness of this method is about 80%.
One of the least talked about methods is the Emergency Contraception methods. Two types exist the emergency IUD insertion and the emergency hormonal contraception. Widespread use of emergency contraception could prevent an estimated 1.7 million unintended pregnancies and 800,000 abortions each year. Women should only use emergency contraceptives as a back up to their usual birth control method. Millions of women around the world have used emergency contraceptives safely and effectively. Emergency contraceptive pills are taken in two doses. The first dose should be taken within 72 hours of unprotected intercourse, and the second dose, 12 hours later. The other type of emergency contraception is the insertion of an IUD will prevent pregnancy up to five days after intercourse.
Today birth control is widely practiced in the United States and all over the world. But in the United States 42 million women of reproductive age, or 7 in 10, are sexually active and do not want to become pregnant. Nearly half of America’s 6 million annual pregnancies are accidental. Unintended pregnancies result in 1.4 million abortions annually, as well as 1.1 million births that women either did not want to have until later or did not want at all. Eighty percent of teen pregnancies are unintended, and each year, one in nine young women aged 15-19 become pregnant; more than half become mothers.