Birth control refers to the use of processes, devices, medication or methods that helps to prevent pregnancy. These processes are together referred as contraception. Birth control acts an important factor to ensure family planning and controlling population growth as an individual responsibility. However, in spite of such processes and methods it is possible that a woman may be affected by unexpected pregnancy. In this article I would discuss the common contraceptive methods and the loopholes of each method that can expose a woman to unexpected pregnancy.
1.Use of Birth Control Pills and Injections
Birth control pills are the most reliable and effective means of preventing pregnancy. Such pills contain hormonal preparations in either fixed doses or in combinations and vary according to components and dosage schedules. The common hormones that are included in the regime are estrogens and progesterone. However, certain ‘œprogesterone only pills’ are also available and used for prevention of pregnancy. The logic behind such pills is to inhibit the surge of LH (Luteinizing Hormone), at the time of ovum maturity. Moreover, the ‘œprogesterone only pills’, may inhibit both hypothalamus and pituitary by short loop feedback mechanisms to inhibit the release of FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone) and Luteinizing Hormone, which prevents ovum maturation and release inhibiting fertilization of sperm and ovum. Sometimes synthetic progesterone like medroxyprogesterone is used to reduce the androgenic effects of steroids. Such preparations are administered through subcutaneous injections and are effective for long term control without need for daily administration. They are usually taken every three months thus ensuring compliance with hormonal preparations.
However in certain instances if the oral contraceptives are not taken regularly in a fixed time of a day, in event of missed doses or in case of accidental change of formulations (self induced or peer induced) and incidences of severe diarrhoea can lead to unexpected pregnancy. Moreover use of subcutaneous injections, may be inaccurate which may lead to improper blood levels of the hormones leading to unexpected pregnancy.
2. Use of Physical Barriers
Physical barriers like condoms and intrauterine contraceptive devices are also effective in preventing pregnancy. Apart from that certain spermicidal jellies can also provide protection from pregnancy, however the efficacy of such methods are inferior to contraceptive pills. Condoms are latex coverings that prevents entry of sperm in female genital tract, intrauterine contraceptive devices are ‘œT’ shaped inserts made of copper or hormones that prevents entry of sperm into the fallopian tube and fertilization is inhibited and implantation too, abolishing the chances of pregnancy. The synthetic progesterone applied through IUD helps in thickening the mucus of the cervix, which causes prevention of entry of sperm in the uterus.
There can be issues of spillage of sperm into the female genital tract if the condom misfits onto the male genitalia and similarly if the IUD’s are not properly inserted into the uterus or accidentally the IUD may get dislodged, neither fertilization nor implantation can be prevented. All these issues may lead to unexpected pregnancy. The spermicidal jellies may lose their efficacy and potency if they are used beyond their scheduled expiry date.
3.Withdrawal method & Practice of Sex During Safe period
Holding out the male genitalia outside the female genital tract during the discharge of sperm is called withdrawal process. On the other hand the days two days after ovulation and two days before ovulation is called the ‘œdangerous period’, because the viability of ovum for fertilization remains very high, this causes pregnancy. However, avoiding such periods is called the ‘œsafe Period’ of sex when the probability of getting pregnant is reduced. The period 4-5 days after menstruation and 3-4 days before the onset of the next cycle is considered as the safe period of sex.
However without psychological strength it is very difficult to practice the withdrawal method leading to expulsion of sperm in female genital tract and miscalculation of the safe period can result in unexpected pregnancy.