Birth Control

Need for Birth Control

The biological goal of sexual intercourse is to successfully allow the sperm cell to fertilize the egg cell and form an embryo. The current trends in world population today, however, show that there is a need for effective birth control methods. There are many developing nations that are facing the problem of overpopulation, with few resources that can be allocated equally among the people. The exponential growth of the world human population over the last few years have forced legislative bodies in many countries to impose contraceptives and family planning.

History of Birth Control

Birth control has had a curious and fluctuating history. The necessity for some control of population had often been recognized implicitly since the earliest times, especially among peoples geographical or political situation prevented the occupation of fresh territory as their numbers increased. Such control was partly exercised by the method of infanticide, though social customs limiting in one way or another the amount of sexual intercourse have always played some part. All we are sure of, however, is that in the eighteenth century certain of the mechanical methods still in use were beginning to find favor at any rate among a few of the upper classes.

Different Types of Birth Control

Natural Birth Control

The body of the human female actually has her own natural methods of contraception, or the prevention of having her egg cell fertilized by a sperm cell. Because a woman releases only one egg cell per cycle, which is roughly every month, this should lessen the chances of her becoming pregnant. Not only that, her reproductive system is equipped to make it a challenge for sperm to survive in the internal environment. The environment within the female genitalia is acidic, with enzymes that act on destroying the foreign bodies that enter it, which are the sperm cells. It is true that only the strongest and fittest male cells make it to the egg cell and fertilize it.

Artificial Birth Control Methods

There are also artificial methods of birth control. The availability of these birth control methods is now less debated than it was in the not too distant past, but this important reproductive technology has been strongly related to the social position of women. Reproduction has been controlled by men who, to this day, have made more of the decisions, legal and scientific, about whether birth control will be available. The social position of women also means that women are more likely seen as responsible for reproduction because that is a presumed part of their traditional role. At the same time, changes in birth control technology have also made it possible for women to change their roles in society. Breaking the link between sex and reproduction has freed women from some traditional constraints. Forms of Birth Control

Forms of Birth Control

The artificial methods of birth control can be divided into four categories, depending on the approach towards contraception: hormonal control, barrier and spermicidal methods, prevention of implantation, and surgical methods.

Hormonal Birth Control

These are mainly female birth control options. Examples of methods that target hormone control are birth control pills, which are the most widely used by women in the United States. Since the pills contain progesterone and estrogens, they have the ability to prevent ovulation, so a woman can safely have intercourse any time during her cycle without fear of getting pregnant.

Types of Birth Control Pills

The three most common types of birth control pills are:

1. Progestin-only pills. These type of pill do not contain estrogen and is therefore, ideal for women who cannot take estrogen. These pills mainly thickens the cervical mucus, and thus preventing sperm from entering the uterus.

2. Combination pills. These pills contain a combination of estrogen and progestin. These are further classifies as Monophasic pills, Multiphasic pills and Continuous use pill.

3. Emergency contraceptive pills (ECP). ECPs are not intended to be used regularly. They are used to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex. However, they must be taken within a certain time period. The sooner one takes them after unprotected sex, the more effective they are.

Side Effects of Birth Control Pills

However, studies have shown that some side effects these birth control options are heart attack and stroke for women who have prior medical history. Some other birth control pill side effects include:

  • Irregular periods or in some cases very light periods
  • Nausea, weight gain
  • Headaches, dizziness
  • Mood swings, breast tenderness
  • Reduced menstrual cramps
  • Improves acne
  • Protect against some disease like ovarian cysts and even some forms of cancer like breast, ovarian and endometrial cancers

Barrier and Spermicidal Methods

Barrier and spermicidal methods form physical shields to prevent the sperm from entering the female reproductive system. These are non hormonal birth control. The male condom and female condom are used for such purposes. Some types of these products contain spermicide which immediately kills sperm cells upon contact, thus preventing successful fertilization. Some of these over the counter birth control methods are also recommended for prevention of sexually transmitted diseases.

Prevention of Implantation and Surgical Methods

The intra-uterine device is placed in the woman’s cervix and protects the uterine wall from implantation by the fertilized egg. This remains within the female reproductive canal for one to four years, which causes a debate regarding the safety of the device. Women who do not wish to have children and want permanent birth control, may opt to have a tubal ligation, which ties the fallopian tubes and prevents the egg cell from traveling to the uterus.

Birth Control Information

The right to available birth control is a recently won freedom. Today, birth control is routinely available over the counter, but there is heated debate at the highest levels of public policy. Should access to birth control be curtailed for the young and information about it restricted? Some argue that sexual activity at young age must be controlled and increasing access to birth control and knowledge about how to use it would encourage more sexual activity among the young.

Class and race relations had a strong role in shaping birth control policy. The birth control movement in the United States began in the mid-nineteenth century. During this period, increased urbanization and industrialization removed the necessity for large families, especially in the middle class, because fewer laborers were needed to support the family. The ideology of the birth control movement reflected these conditions.

Birth Control Facts

One-third of teenagers use no contraceptive the first time they have sexual intercourse, typically delaying the use of contraceptives until several months after they become sexually active. A sexually active teenager not using contraceptives has a ninety percent chance of becoming pregnant within the first year of sexual intercourse. Teens are more likely to be using contraceptives if they are in a serious, not just a casual relationship. However, the percentage of teens using birth control, especially condoms, has increased, although the pill is still the most widely used method.

The sexual revolution was also influenced by the development of technology particularly the availability of the birth control pill, new birth control types and the growth of mass media. The pill opened new possibilities for sexual behavior at the same time that the media widely disseminated new cultural ideals for sexuality.

The sexual revolution has been significantly influenced by the development of new technologies and new birth control methods. Contraceptives bring new possibilities for sexual freedom. With effective and available contraception like the birth control pill, sex is no longer necessarily linked with reproduction. New sexual norms associate sex with intimacy, emotional ties, and physical pleasure. These sexual freedoms are not equally distributed among all groups, however. For women, sex is still more closely tied to reproduction than it is for men because women are still more likely to take the responsibility for birth control.

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