Birth Control: A Q&A Primer
What is birth control?
Birth control, or contraception, refers to any method that prevents pregnancy. There are several forms of birth control, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. Popular forms of birth control include barrier contraception, such as condoms, and hormonal contraception, such as birth control pills. Condoms can be purchased by anyone at a drug store or obtained from a family planning organization, while hormonal birth control can only be obtained through a doctor or an organization with special privileges, such as a family clinic.
How does birth control work?
Birth control works by preventing a woman’s egg from becoming fertilized by a man’s sperm. For barrier methods, this is achieved by preventing sperm from entering a woman’s body. For hormonal methods, this is achieved by preventing ovulation. During ovulation, an egg is released from a woman’s ovary. Without ovulation, there is no egg to be fertilized. Hormonal birth control also thickens the mucus of the cervix, which makes it more difficult for sperm to get to any egg that may have been released. While, it is important to take birth control every day, if a woman has one day of missed birth control, ovulation is usually still prevented.
What kinds of hormonal birth control are there?
There are several kinds of hormonal birth control, but all work by releasing hormones into the body. The birth control pill is taken daily. An injection every three months can also prevent pregnancy effectively. There is also a birth control patch and a vaginal ring that only need to be switched every few months. These options allow women to choose what is best for their routine and bodies.
How can I get birth control?
Birth control can be obtained through your normal doctor or nurse practitioner. Family planning clinics in your neighborhood may also offer reduced-cost birth control. If you need a special kind of birth control or are having problems and side effects, a gynecologist can best address your concerns.
What are birth control side effects?
Because hormones are being introduced to your body, birth control can have side effects such as change in mood, weight gain, and spotting while on birth control.
Is birth control effective?
Hormonal birth control, when taken as directed, is between 96% and 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. Remember, the birth control pill and other hormonal contraceptives do not protect against sexually transmitted diseases.