Overpopulation is a problem that our country has been facing for years now. The truth of the matter is that this particular problem will only increase with time, unless collective measures are taken by the residents of the country. The smartest way to control the population is by promoting family planning and introducing various contraception methods to the public. Safe sex not only means protecting yourself and your partner from sexually transmitted diseases, but one of its most important purposes is spacing births or delaying the first birth and avoid conceiving all together. Keep in mind that before opting for any method, consultation with the doctor is crucial.
Following are a few important birth control measures.
Emergency Contraceptive Pills (ECP):
Commonly available ECPs in Pakistan are the Progestin Only Emergency Contraceptive Pills. These pills should be taken within 120 hours (5 days) by the female after having intercourse. Unfortunately, they are less effective if fertilisation has already occurred and many women have become pregnant even after taking ECP. This pill is most effective if taken as soon as possible after having unprotected sex.
A larger-than-normal dose of it may cause side effects such as nausea, vomiting, breast tenderness, and headaches. The menstrual cycle may also become temporarily irregular after taking ECPs.
Intrauterine device (IUD):
An IUD is a small device that is placed in the uterus in order to avoid conceiving. Unlike the ECP, an IUD prevents fertilisation rather than implantation. It destroys sperm, as copper is released to a uterine environment which is hostile for the sperm. Emergency IUD insertion can reduce the risk of pregnancy by 97 to 99 per cent if inserted within five days after unprotected sex.
The combined pill:
This pill for women contains oestrogen and progesterone. It prevents the egg from being produced. It is effective 99 per cent of the time if used according to the instructions. Some advantages are that it provides protection against cancers of the womb and ovaries and also helps prevent osteoporosis. The pill aids in regulating the period and helps reduce PMS (Premenstrual Stress Syndrome).
The disadvantages however, are that it causes side effects such as headaches, water retention, nausea, weight gain and depression. This is not the recommended option for smokers, women over thirty five, diabetic or high blood pressure patients.
The mini pill:
Consumption of this pill thickens the mucous in the cervix and makes it harder for the sperm to enter the uterus. However, one needs to be cautious as it has to be taken at the same time each day, and there is a small risk that if you are breastfeeding, the progesterone could harm the baby. .
Condoms: A condom, to be worn by the man, prevents the sperm from entering the women's vagina. They are easy to use with minimal health risks and are easily available everywhere. Not only do the condoms help prevent pregnancies, but they also ensure safe sex. The biggest disadvantage of condoms though, is that they could slip off or get torn during intercourse, hence this contraception is effective 98 per cent of the times.
These are for females and should be taken every six months. The birth control injections contain progesterone which prevents an egg from being produced and is a long lasting method of contraception. The disadvantage is that it leads to weight gain, nausea, irregular bleeding and fertility may take a couple of months to return.
This works as an adhesive bandage, which gets placed on the skin and releases oestrogen and progestin into the system over time to prevent ovulation and implantation. It works on a monthly cycle and needs to be replaced each week for three weeks a month.
This is a flexible tube which is put under the skin in the upper arm of a woman. It releases the hormone progesterone and it stops ovulation, thickens cervical mucous to prevent sperm meeting an egg and thins the lining of the womb to prevent an egg implanting. This method works for three years but can be taken out any time. You don't have to think about contraception for as long as the implant works and when the implant is removed, the normal level of fertility returns. Side effects include weight gain, headaches, spotty skin, mood changes and breast tenderness.
Male sterilisation or vasectomy is a medical procedure, whereby parts of the tubes that carry sperm are ligated and cut, preventing the man from making the woman pregnant. Vasectomy does not involve the removal of the testicles and it does not affect the production of male sex hormones (mainly testosterone). Thus it doesn't decrease libido or their secretion into the bloodstream. Reversibility in vasectomy is possible, but is expensive and has a low success rate.
Also referred to as 'pulling out', is when the man does not ejaculate in the woman's body. Withdrawal is not a good method for men who cannot accurately tell when they are about to ejaculate.