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From the moment puberty hits, we’re all bombarded with a seemingly never-ending array of terms like “safe sex,” “unprotected sex,” and “contraceptives.” But what are contraceptives, and why are they so crucial in our lives? This guide provides comprehensive insight into the different types of contraceptives and goes beyond the scope of emergency solutions to bring you a holistic understanding of contraception.
What Is Contraception?
In simple terms, contraception is a method or device used to prevent pregnancy. This is achieved by preventing the sperm from meeting an egg, preventing an egg from being released each month (ovulation), or stopping a fertilized egg from attaching itself to the womb’s lining. By understanding the importance of contraception, we can grasp the gravity of practicing safe sex and avoiding unprotected sex.
Exploring Contraceptive Methods
A contraceptive can take on many forms, including hormonal methods, barrier methods, intrauterine devices (IUDs), and sterilization procedures. Here’s a closer look at these contraception methods:
Hormonal contraceptives work by controlling the hormonal cycle, thus preventing ovulation.
- Oral Contraceptives: Also known as the contraceptive pill, this method involves daily pills that contain estrogen and progestin. The oral contraceptive pills are effective in preventing pregnancy when used correctly.
- Contraceptive Patch: This patch is applied to the skin and releases hormones to prevent pregnancy.
- Contraceptive Implant: This small, thin rod is inserted under the skin of your arm, where it releases hormones to prevent pregnancy.
- Intrauterine Devices (IUDs): A small, T-shaped device that is inserted into the uterus. There are two main types of IUDs: hormonal and copper. Copper IUDs work by releasing copper into the uterus — which is toxic to sperm — while hormonal IUDs release progestin to prevent ovulation and thicken cervical mucus to block sperm.
- Male Contraceptive: While still under development, hormonal contraceptives for men aim to control the production of sperm.
Barrier methods of contraception work by preventing sperm from reaching the egg.
- Male condom: A thin tube that fits over the penis. They prevent sperm from getting into the vagina. Rubber and plastic condoms also protect against STIs.
- Female condom: A thin plastic pouch that is open on one end. The closed end is placed inside the vagina, lining its walls and preventing sperm from getting into the vagina. It also protects against STIs.
- Contraceptive Sponge: The sponge is a small, disk-shaped device that contains spermicide and is inserted into the vagina before sex. It also releases a spermicide and protects against pregnancy for the next 24 hours, even if sex occurs multiple times.
- Diaphragm Contraception: A diaphragm is a shallow, dome-shaped cup made of silicone. It’s inserted into the vagina before sex to cover the cervix and stop sperm from getting to the egg. It is always used with spermicide.
- Cervical Cap: A rubber device that fits inside the vagina, right up against the cervix. It is always used with a spermicide.
- Spermicide: A substance that kills sperm. It comes in various forms such as jelly, foam, cream, suppository, and film. The most common spermicide is called nonoxynol-9. It is applied in the vagina about 15 minutes before sex. More spermicide must be used each time the woman has sex. Spermicide used alone does not work well to prevent pregnancy.
Sterilization is a permanent method of contraception that is meant for individuals who are certain they do not want to have more children or any children at all. For women, this usually involves a procedure known as tubal ligation, in which the fallopian tubes are cut or blocked to permanently prevent pregnancy. For men, the procedure is called a vasectomy, where the vas deferens are cut or sealed to stop sperm from entering the semen. Sterilization is highly effective but is also irreversible in most cases, so it’s important to be absolutely sure of your decision before undergoing the procedure.
Understanding these various contraceptive methods is critical to practicing safe sex, reducing the risk of unwanted pregnancies, and avoiding the transmission of sexually transmitted infections.
What to Do After Unprotected Sex
Despite the wide range of contraceptive options available, unprotected sex can still occur, intentionally or unintentionally. When this happens, you can resort to emergency contraception, but it’s crucial to know that these options are not meant for regular use.
Remember, contraceptives are not just for preventing unwanted pregnancies — they’re also important for maintaining sexual health and well-being. Whether you’re leaning toward oral contraceptives, a contraceptive patch, an IUD, or other types of contraceptives, the right choice depends on your individual health needs and lifestyle. It’s always best to consult with a healthcare professional when considering your options.
At Community Care Resources of Florida (CCRSFL), we are dedicated to delivering the highest quality of care to those in our community by providing excellent medical services, therapy, and outreach to individuals affected by sexually transmitted diseases, HIV, hepatitis C, and/or substance abuse. We strive to deliver healthcare with compassion and affordability to all.
Since our foundation, our goal has been to serve our Altamonte Springs, Hallandale Beach, and Haines City communities by providing access to care and resources that help our patients become healthier through safer practices with their partners. We have qualified technicians available to serve you. If you’re interested in our services, you can book an appointment on our website or call us at 1(877) 287-2520!
Contact any of our offices if you need testing and treatment.
106 Boston Avenue Suite 204
Altamonte Springs, FL 32701
280 Patterson Road, Suite 3
Haines City, FL 33844
1008 West Hallandale Beach Boulevard
Hallandale Beach, FL 33009