Wednesday, June 15, 2011


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Contraceptives have dated all the way back to the biblical era and over the years there has been vast improvements made to the methods of birth control. Today there are more than a dozen on the market. Such as oral,hormonal,surgical,and physical types of contraceptives. In order to protect yourself from sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies the key is education on what is available for people and the future of them.

The history of contraception dates back thousands of years, couples have tried to control their fertility using different methods and techniques. The practice of wearing specific animal parts was thought to help women avoid unwanted pregnancy. For example, infertility could be induced by carrying a cat’s liver in a tube on the left foot, tying the testicles of a cat at one’s waist, or even more effective, wearing the uterus of a lioness was thought to cause infertility among women. Certain birds were also believed to play a key role in fertility. for

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example, Hindus and Egyptians believed that the ibis was the bird that ensured a pregnancy. This is where we got the story of how babies come about with how the Stork delivers the babies to our door step.(http//the hall of contraception.html).

As years past methods for prevention of unwanted pregnancies depended upon what theory of causation prevailed at the time. Once the actual contributions of the male and female and the functions of the uterus and sperm came to be known, the same general approaches to contraception were used that we continue to see today.

One of the most fascinating elements in the history of contraception is the wide array of materials women have, over the years, placed inside them to obstruct the passage of semen. One basic approach was to fashion pessaries or barriers from the excrement of powerful animals such as the elephant and the crocodile, held together by a paste made of honey,whitewash,or animal ear wax.(www.marie of contraceptives)

As the years have passed the technology of contraceptives have grown tremendously. Today there are 14 effective contraceptives on the market and it’s important to know what they are, how they work, the effectiveness,


and the advantages and disadvantages of each one.

The natural method of contraception also known as fertility awareness is based on a woman being aware of her menstrual cycle. The essence of such methods is that sex is avoided on days when conception is most likely, so a woman needs to be aware of her fertile and infertile days. It’s not a medical contraceptive but can be very effective. A fertility monitor can be used to show fertile and infertile days, it’s a small hand held monitor that shows a green light when when infertile and a red light that when the women is fertile. There is also a calender method that relies on prediction of ovulation by tracking menstrual cycles, typically for a 10 to 1 month period, assuming that ovulation occurs 14 days prior to menstruation.

The effectiveness of this method is the estimated first-year failure rate in typical use is 0%, fewer failures occur when these method are applied consistently, when a combination of rhythm methods is used, when a woman’s cycle is quite regular. The trick is to be able to reliably determine when ovulation occurs. The pregnancy rate can be reduced to practically zero if rhythm methods are used with other forms of birth control, such as the condom or diaphragm. some of the advantages of this method

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is that it’s a natural form of birth control, this 4

appeals to many people who for religious or other reasons prefer not use artificial means. since no devices or chemicals are used there are not side effects, nor do they cause any loss of sensation,as condoms do. Some of the

disadvantages is the fact that the reliability of rhythm methods is low. This method requires abstaining from sex for several days, or perhaps weeks each month. Also it does not offer any protection against sexually transmitted diseases.

Then there are hormonal contraceptives for women, the most popular one is known as Norplant. It consist of six silicone rods which are inserted under the skin in the upper arm. These rods encapsulate an synthetic analog of the hormone progestin levonorgestrel. This hormone is released slowly and evenly through the silicone walls of the rods for five years. The hormone suppresses ovulation and thickens the cervical mucus.This reduces the likelihood of an egg being released into the fallopian tubes and impair the sperm motility.(Power and DecisionThe Social Control of Reproduction.(Boston Harvard University) 16-167).

One of Norplant’s greatest benefits is it’s efficacy, only .% of women experience accidental

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pregnancy.It is a dependable form of birth control and it’s very low maitenence.Some of the disadvantages is that it needs to be removed after five years and the removal process can be very painful. It also offers no protection against HIV/AIDs and other STD’s.(The New Our Bodies,OurselvesA Book by Women for Women.(New YorkSimon & Schuster,1) 10-1)

Then there are oral contraceptives also known as “the pill”. It contains two synthetic female hormones estrogen and progesterone which prevent pregnancy by inhibiting the monthly release of the “egg” from the ovaries. All birth control pill cycle are three weeks of active hormone pills followed by one week of no hormones. At times, for some women, there may be no menstrual bleeding while using birth control pills. Another oral contraceptive is the progestogen-only pill or known as the P.O.P. pill. It contains only one hormone unlike other pills it works by acting on the cervical fluids, by encouraging it to form a thick barrier to stop sperm from entering the womb, and makes the lining of the womb thinner to prevent it from accepting a fertilized egg.

The effectiveness of the pill the failure rate of the birth control pill associated with perfect use is very low at only .5% or less depending on the type of pill. The

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failure rate increases % in typical use. Failures can occur when women forget to take the pill for two days in a row, when they don’t use back-up methods and when women first start taking the pill. Some of the side effects of taking the pill are that some women occasionally experience annoying side effects, but will not damage their health. Some women experience slight nausea, breakthrough bleeding which is spotting in between menstrual cycles may occur. There can be emotional changes due to stress, breasts may enlarge and become tender.

The advantages of oral contraceptives is that if they are used properly is can be 100% effective. It does not interfere with sexual spontaneity or diminish sexual sensations. The combination pill reduces the risks of ovarian and endometrial cancer. The pill does have some disadvantages though, it does not protect against STD’s and the main drawbacks are the potential side effects and possible heath risks.

The most popular contraceptive that’s on the market and is available to and used most often by the younger population who is sexually active are the male

condoms. Condoms data back all the way to 1000 BC, condom use can be traced several thousand years. It is known that around 1000 BC ancient Egyptians used a linen sheath for

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protection against disease. Around 100-00 AD the earliest evidence if condom use in Europe comes from scenes in cave paintings at Combarelles in France.

In the 1500’s the first known published description and trials regarding prophylactic condom use were recorded

in Italy. Gabrille Fallopius claimed to have invented a sheath made of linen, and conducted trials amongst 1100 men using the condom, none of them became infected with

Syphilis. Having been found useful for prevention of infection, it was only later that the usefulness of the condom for the prevention of pregnancy was recognized. Later in the 1500’s one of the first improvements to the condom was made, when the linen cloth sheaths were sometimes soaked in a chemical solution and then allowed to dry to proper use. These were the first spermicides on condoms.

Around the 1700’s condoms made out of animal intestines began to be available. However they were quite expensive and the unfortunate result was that they were often reused. This type of condom was described at the time as “an armour against pleasure, and a cobweb against

infection.” In 1844 Goodyear and Hancock began t mass produce condoms made out of vulcanized rubber. Vulcanization is a process which turns crude rubber into a

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strong elastic rubber. In the 1880’s the first latex condom was produced although it was to be the 10’s before these were in widespread use. By 15 1.5 million condoms were being produced each day in the United States.

During most of the 180’s American manufacturers dominated the American condom market. Then

in 187 a Japanese brand called Kimono became available in the U.S.A.. This condom was thinner and well lubricated and it’s advertisements emphasized pleasure as well as protection. Then in the 10’s the U.S. made the first polyurethane condom available. By 1 the annual production of natural latex condoms had reached 8.5 billion.(New England Journal of Medicine 14;41-46)

The male condom is the only method of contraception men can use other than sterilization. A condom is a cylindrical sheath that serves as a barrier. stopping the passage of sperm and sexually transmitted diseases from the man to his partner. It is fitted over a man’s erect penis before intercourse. The failure rate of male condoms is estimated at 1% meaning that 1 women out of 100 who rely just on condoms as contraception will

become pregnant.(Hatcher et al.,14;Reinisch,10) The effectiveness of a condom and spermicide combination is just as effective as the birth control pill if used


properly and on a regular basis. Some of the advantages of the male condom is that they can be purchased without a prescription. They require no fitting and are available at the drop of a hat when needed. The best advantage is that it protects against pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Disadvantages of the male condom is that it may make sex less spontaneous. Condoms may also lessen sexual sensations especially for the man.

There are also female condoms available on the market there known as the diaphragm and the cervical cap. Diaphragms were once used about one third of U.S. couples who practiced birth control. When invented in 188 they were a breakthrough, their popularity declined in the 160’s when the birth control pill became available on the market. The diaphragm is a shallow cup or dome made of thin latex rubber. The rim is a flexible metal ring covered with rubber, and they come in different sizes so a woman can get a precise fit. They are only available by prescription because they have to be fitted to the woman’s vaginal contour. The diaphragm should be used with spermicide to be very effective. It works by the woman inserting it into her vagina much like a tampon, over the

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cervical opening to act as a barrier against the passage of sperm and works even better when combined with spermicide.

The effectiveness of the diaphragm if used on a regular basis and used properly the failure rate is only at 6% the first year of usage. But the failure rate increases to around 18% for two main reasons. For one the diaphragm, if not taken care of properly can be worn down and cracks or holes can form without the woman noticing. The second reason is just because the woman did not use spermicide with the diaphragm.

The cervical cap is another female condom much like the diaphragm , is also a dome shaped rubber cup. It comes in different sizes but like the diaphragm it can only be prescribed by a health professional. It is smaller than the diaphragm, it’s actually about the size of a thimble and is meant to fit snugly over the cervical opening. It should also be used with spermicide for it’s full effectiveness. It should be left in place at least eight hours after sex.The cap provides continuous protection up to 48 hours without the need of additional spermicide.

The cervical cap is not as effective as the diaphragm the first year the estimated failure rate is 18%

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for women who have not had children, it’s doubled for women who have had children at 6%, due to the fact that the cervix is stretched out more after giving birth so cervical cap doesnt fit as snugly.

Some of the advantages of using female condoms is that they are mechanical devices that do not interrupt the hormonal production or the reproductive cycle. The most appealing advantage of using female condoms is that there is virtually no side effects. Some of the disadvantages are that the effectiveness is not as good as the forms of contraception. Another disadvantage is the

need to insert the diaphragm prior to intercourse.

The last method of contraception that is familiar to most people is sterilization both in males and females. This is a permanent form of contraception and some times is not irreversible or can be expensive to reverse. People who decide to be sterilized usually has made the decision to either not to have children or not to have anymore children. More than a million sterilizations are performed in the United States each year.

The male sterilization procedure is known as a vasectomy, around 500,000 vasectomies are performed each year. The procedure usually takes around 15 to 0 minutes

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under local anesthesia. It’s a very simple procedure,small incisions are made in the scrotum and each vas deferens is cut and a small segment is removed and the ends are then tied off. This way the sperm does not reach the urethra and is then reabsorbed by the body.

The vasectomy does not affect the male’s sex drive what so ever. It also has no affect on a man’s sexual arousal,becoming erect, or the sensations during ejaculation. The vasectomy is nearly 100% effective, fewer than pregnancies occur during the first year of use.

The most common female sterilization is known as Tubal sterilization. Tubal sterilization prevents ova and sperm from passing through the fallopian tubes. Around 600,000 tubal sterilizations are performed each year. There are two main surgical procedures for tubal sterilization are minilaparotomy and laparoscopy. In minlaparotomy, a small incision is made in the abdomen,just above the pubic hairline, to provide access to the fallopian tubes.Each tube is tied back or clamped with a clip. In a laparpscopy the fallopian tubes are approached through a small incision in the abdomen just

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below the navel. Then a narrow,lighted viewing instrument called a lapaoscope to locate the tubes. A small section of the tubes are cut off and then clamped.

A hysterectomy is another form of sterilization, it’s a major operation that is commonly performed because of cancer or other diseases in the reproductive area.The procedure consist of the removal of the ovaries and the uterus it induces a surgical menopause because the woman no longer produces female sex hormones.

Female sterilization is just as effective as male sterilization at around 100% effective.Overall, 1 in 00 women is likely to become pregnant during the year after the procedure.

Some of the major advantages of sterilization are effectiveness and permanence. Following surgery the couple does not have to worry about using any other contraception. The main disadvantage is the permanence of the procedure many people change their minds about children. So people should think long and hard about making the decision of being sterilized because it’s hard to reverse the procedure.

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In conclusion, contraceptives have come along way over the past several thousand years. There is a wide array of methods of contraception for people out there to protect themselves from sexually transmitted diseases and from unplanned pregnancies. The key is to educate people all the way from preteens to older adults about these methods of birth control that I have researched and most of them are fairly easy to get and fairly easy to use. So, there really is no excuse for unplanned pregnancies among our youth if we make them aware what safe sex is all about.

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