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Our relationship status, medical history or even our lifestyle determine which contraceptive is best for us.
Not all methods are equal. There are a wide variety of options to prevent pregnancy and some of them, in addition, protect against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). The contraceptive method you choose may change throughout your life depending on your circumstances, whether it is because of your relationship status, your lifestyle or your medical history.
Here we explain all the possibilities you have at your disposal so that you can choose the one that best fits your situation:
1 – Hormonal Contraceptive Methods
Hormonal contraceptives are the most recommended method for young, healthy, nonsmoking women. As they don’t protect against STDs, they are particularly recommended for couples in a stable relationship.
There are a wide variety of hormonal contraceptives. Standing out among the most used methods is the one commonly known as “the pill”: a daily pill which is taken orally for 21 days with a one-week break or for 24 days with a four-day break.
Another increasingly used hormonal contraceptive is the vaginal ring, which is inserted into the vagina once a month for three weeks. It works in a similar way to the pill, but as it is inserted monthly it avoids any potential oversights that may result in having to take a pill each day.
Contraceptive patches, which are stuck directly on the skin, are another convenient kind of hormonal contraception.
In addition to the pill, the ring and patches – hormonal contraceptives which combine oestrogen and progestogen – there are also progestogen-only contraceptives, such as mini-pills or the subcutaneous implant, with a 3-month duration.
2 – Barrier methods
The way barrier methods work is simple: they prevent sperm from reaching the egg. In order to do this, the male condom can be used, which in addition to preventing pregnancy, offers good protection against STDs. Another option is the female condom, which even though we may not be very accustomed to it, nevertheless offers the same protection.
On the other hand, there is also the cervical cap and the diaphragm. Keep in mind that these systems don’t protect against sexually transmitted diseases, the same as the other so called chemical barrier methods – known as spermicides and vaginal sponges.
3 – Intrauterine Device (IUD)
The intrauterine device, commonly called the IUD, is a small copper T-shaped device which the gynaecologist inserts into the woman’s uterus and only needs replacing every 5 years.
The IUD is a safe, reversible, long-term option, although it does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases. Therefore, this method is usually recommended for women who are in a steady relationship.
4 – Natural methods
They are calendar-based methods known as the Ogino-Knaus method and the Billings method. Both detect, through the menstrual cycle and vaginal discharge, when the most fertile days are – the ones when you are most likely to get pregnant- in order to thus refrain from having sex during those days or have intercourse using a condom.
During the days that remain of the menstrual cycle the likelihood of pregnancy is lower, but still exists. For this reason, natural methods are the least effective when it comes to preventing conception and are therefore less advisable. In fact, two out of ten women will get pregnant after a year of using the Ogino-Knaus method. Furthermore, none of these methods protect against STDs.
5 – Irreversible Methods
The most effective methods to prevent pregnancy are to be found in this group, but also bear in mind that once chosen, there is no turning back. This is the case with tubal ligation for women or vasectomy for men. These methods are recommended for people who believe they have definitely raised their family and don’t want more children.
6 – Post-coital or emergency contraception
The emergency methods of contraception should only be used in extreme cases, never as a routine method of contraception. Some situations where it will be necessary to use them is when there has been unprotected sex, when the condom splits, or if it slips off in the vagina.
Several types of emergency contraception exist, which if used correctly within the time limits indicated in the prospectus, have a reliability of 99%. One of the best known is the “morning after pill”. Emergency contraceptives do not protect against STDs.