A. Birth Control Options
1. Abstention is most effective but some consider unrealistic for everyone.
2. In the rhythm method, there is no intercourse during the days when an egg is capable of being fertilized.
a. In "fertility awareness", monthly records are used to identify the days before and after ovulation, during which intercourse is avoided.
b. The method is also called "sympto-thermal" because vaginal secretions and body core temperature are monitored to indicate the time of ovulation.
3. Withdrawal before ejaculation would seem to be effective but is not due to lapses in will power and premature release of fluids.
4. Douching is similarly ineffective due to the speed with which sperm enter the uterus.
5. Spermicidal foam and jelly are toxic to sperm but not reliable unless used in combination with a barrier device.
6. The diaphragm is a circular rubber device that fits over the cervix and prevents entry of sperm into the uterus; the cervical cap is a similar, but smaller, device.
7. The contraceptive sponge is a soft, disposable disk that fits over the cervix and delivers a dose of spermicide.
8. The intrauterine device (IUD) is small plastic or metal device that is placed in the uterus for up to two years at a time to prevent implantation.
9. Condoms (either worn over the penis or placed inside the vagina) prevent sperm deposition in the vagina but must be used with care.
10. The Pill contains synthetic female hormones and prevents ovulation when taken faithfully according to directions.
11. Norplant is an implant of capsules that deliver a hormone that prevents implantation over a period of five years.
12. A single injection of Depo-Provera prevents ovulation for up to three months.
13. Surgery to cut and tie the oviducts (tubal ligation) or vas deferens (vasectomy) is effective and generally considered an irreversible method to prevent sperm and egg union.
14. Abortion by several methods (including the drug RU-486) can terminate a pregnancy, but for many this is not a preferred method of birth control.
B. Future fertility control options include biodegradable implants, a "pregnancy vaccine", a male contraceptive that reduces sperm count, and chemical sterilization, including ones that are easily reversible.
The following links are being provided as a source of information and are not intended to promote "non-natural" birth control.
JAMA's Contraception Center: The Journal of the American Medical Association provides this resource with educational resources, the latest scientific literature, and the breaking news.
Association of Reproductive Health Professionals: Another good source of information for both the public and the scientific community. It includes a test designed to help users choose a method of birth control.
Facts About Oral Contraceptives : Information about today's birth control pills from the National Institutes of Health.
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