Contraception, also known as birth control practice is prevention of pregnancy by interfering with the process of conception and implantation. Numerous methods of contraception are in practice, and include temporary methods which are reversible as well as permanent ones. Some of these methods are confined for women and others for men. The choice of contraception depends on your specific needs, and are best discussed with your doctor.

Temporary methods of birth control

Oral Contraceptive Pills: Also known as Birth control pills, they are a type of female hormonal birth control method and are very effective at preventing pregnancy. Most contraceptive pills contain two types of synthetic female hormones: estrogen and progestin. These are similar to the estrogen and progesterone normally made by the ovaries. These pills are called “combination oral contraceptives,” and there are many different kinds, with varying amounts of each hormone.

The hormones in the pills prevent pregnancy by suppressing your pituitary gland, which stops the development and release of the egg in the ovary (ovulation). The progestin also helps to prevent the sperm from reaching the egg and changes the lining of the uterus. The combined pill with both estrogen and progestin is considered slightly more effective than the progestin-only pill. However, some women can’t take estrogen, so it’s better for them to take the progestin-only pill.

Your doctor will prescribe you an oral contraceptive pill with a dosage best for you.

Male Condom: These are an effective barrier method in avoiding pregnancy. Condoms also provide protection against sexually-transmitted infections.

Intrauterine Contraceptive Device: An IUCD or IUD (Intrauterine Device) is a small, usually plastic, device (shaped like a ‘T’) inserted into a woman’s uterus to prevent pregnancy. It works by thickening the mucus around the cervix and by thinning the womb’s lining, making it difficult to accept a fertilised egg. IUDs can either be hormone-free, like the Copper-T or contain hormones that are slowly released into the uterus. Mirena is one such IUD and contains the hormone levonorgestrel. Unlike some of the other newer birth control methods, Mirena does not affect one’s periods and instead actually reduces heavy bleeding. In fact, it is often used in the treatment of dysfunctional uterine bleeding, a condition that causes women to have very heavy flow during their periods.

Contraceptive Injection: Instead of having to take a pill every day, contraceptive hormones can be given as intramuscular injections. One such contraceptive injection contains the drug depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA), known by its brand name, Depo-Provera. DMPA is a long-acting, progestin-only, reversible hormonal contraceptive that is injected every three months.

Permanent methods

Sterilization: a surgical permanent method of birth control is meant for men and women who do not intend to have children in the future. Male sterilisation involves vasectomy, a surgical blocking of the vas deferens – the tubes through which sperm pass into the semen. Female sterilisation involves a tubal ligation, a surgical procedure that blocks the fallopian tubes which carry the eggs from the ovaries to the uterus.