Sexuality and U
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Birth Control

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Non-Hormonal Methods

 

IUD diagram Blue background (small)Sponge diagram Blue background (small)Lea shield diagram Blue background (small)Cervical cap diagram Blue background (small)Diaphragm diagram Blue background (small)Spermicide diagram Blue background (small)Tubal Ligation diagram Blue background (small)Vasectomy diagram Blue background (small)Male condom Blue background (small)Female condom diagram Blue background (small)

The Intra-uterine Device (Copper IUD), Contraceptive Sponge, Lea shield, Cervical Cap, Diaphragm, Spermicide, Tubal Ligation, Vasectomy, Male Condom and Female Condom are all non-hormonal methods.You may want to consider these methods if you think that the pill, patch, ring, IUD or injection aren’t the right contraceptive choice for you.

 

Intrauterine Contraceptive Device (The Copper IUD)

IUD photoIUD diagram (IUD in uterus)

What is it?
The IUD is a small, T-shaped device with a copper wire. Inserted into the uterus, the copper wire changes the chemistry in the uterus and destroys sperm.

Benefits
The copper IUD provides up to 5 years of contraception, and has no negative impact on future fertility, once removed. It fails in only 1 of 100 users per year. The IUD should not alter the timing of your periods. Women who use an IUD have a lower rate of ectopic pregnancy than women who do not use any birth control. However, if pregnancy should occur, it is important to see your health care provider immediately, because there is a significant chance the pregnancy is in the fallopian tube.

The copper IUD may be a good choice for you if:

  • You are at low risk for contracting a sexually transmitted infection (STI)
  • You are looking for a long-term, reliable method of contraception
  • You have had failure with other methods in the past (can not remember to take the pill)
  • You are breastfeeding (it has no effect on breast milk)
  • You have completed your family but do not want a tubal ligation
  • You have problems with hormonal methods of contraception
     

Disadvantages

  • The copper IUD does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or HIV. Condoms should be used to protect against STIs or HIV.
  • Women who use the copper IUD, may find that their periods get heavier or more crampy.
  • Complications associated with the IUD are rare but may occur. Possible complications of inserting an IUD include irregular bleeding or spotting, perforating the uterus (making a small hole in the uterus), infection, or expulsion (the IUD falls out).

Troubleshooting
You should contact your health care provider if any of the following occur:

  • You cannot feel the IUD threads
  • You or your partner can feel the lower end of the IUD
  • You think that you are pregnant
  • You experience persistent abdominal pain, fever, or unusual vaginal discharge
  • You or your partner feel pain or discomfort during intercourse
  • You experience a sudden change in your menstrual periods
  • You wish to have the device removed or you want to get pregnant.

Where to find it
You will need a prescription to get a copper IUD. A health care provider must insert the IUD, usually in the office or family planning clinic. During your first visit, you will have a physical exam, take a sexually transmitted infection test and discuss your medical history. You may need to book a second visit to have the IUD inserted. Your health care provider will insert the IUD into the uterus through the cervix (opening of the uterus).

 

Contraceptive Sponge

Sponge photo

What is it?
This disposable sponge containing spermicide is placed at the cervix and kills sperm before they can enter. When used in combination with the male condom, the failure rate is only 2%.

Benefits
It’s a barrier method and spermicide in one. Provides 12-hour protection, and you won’t have to change the sponge if sex is repeated during this time. They enhance the effectiveness of other forms of contraception such as condoms.

Disadvantages
On it’s own, the contraceptive sponge is not a very effective contraceptive method, and should not be used without another form of contraception. They do, however, provide good secondary protection when used with condoms. Some women find it difficult to remove the sponge, or forget to take it out all together. Some may also be allergic to the spermicide. By itself, the sponge will not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Troubleshooting
Some women who use the sponge report recurrent yeast infections. If this is the case, talk to your doctor about finding a different method of contraception that works best for you.

Where to find it
You can pick up a package of 4 sponges in a drugstore or at a birth control centre.

 

Lea Contraceptive

Lea shield photo

What is it?
A soft, silicone device inserted into the vagina in front of the cervix, to prevent sperm from entering. To increase effectiveness, it should be used with a spermicide - failure rates increase to 12.9% from 8.7% when used alone.

Benefits
The re-usable Lea offers 8-hour protection, and it can be inserted hours before intercourse, providing a degree of privacy.

Disadvantages
It doesn’t protect against Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), and the device is not overly effective if used without a spermicide. Some women may also find it difficult to insert at first.

Note: Use with a condom for increased prevention of pregnancy and STIs.

Troubleshooting
If the male partner feels the Lea during sex, it means that it’s not inserted properly.

Where to find it
At a drugstore or family planning clinic.

 

Cervical Cap

Cervical cap photo

What is it?
A deep silicone cap that fits against the cervix and prevents sperm and bacteria from entering.

Effectiveness
There is a difference in effectiveness when used by women who have already given birth and women who have not. If used perfectly (meaning if it fits you well and you insert the cap correctly every time you have sex), the failure rate is of 9% in women who have never given birth. This means that if 100 women use the cap perfectly for a year, nine will likely become pregnant. However, the typical-use failure rate is 20%. For women who have had children before, the failure rates are much higher: 26% for women who use the method perfectly every time, and 40% for the typical user.

Benefits
It provides a woman with privacy and control, because she can insert it before sex.

Disadvantages
It doesn’t protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and it must be used with spermicide, which kills sperm. A poor fit or latex allergy will prevent some women from using the cap.

Troubleshooting
If the cap moves out of place during sex, see a doctor as soon as possible for emergency contraception. For increased protection against pregnancy and protection against STIs, use with a condom.

Where to find it
Your doctor can fit you for a cap, and then you can purchase it online or from certain family planning clinics.

 

Diaphragm

Diaphragm photoDiaphragm insertion diagramDiaphrams with spermicide graphic

What is it?
The diaphragm is a latex cap that covers the cervix and prevents sperm from getting inside. The diaphragm should always be used in combination with a foam spermicide, placed inside the diaphragm, to offer protection from pregnancy.

Benefits
It offers women privacy and control, because they can insert it before sex. If used perfectly, the failure rate is 4-8%. In other words, if 100 women use it correctly for one year, four to eight of them will become pregnant.

Disadvantages
Some women find diaphragms difficult to insert at first, and others find that it doesn’t fit them right. There is also a chance of developing a urinary tract infection while using it. Does not protect against sexually transmitted infections(STIs).

Troubleshooting
If you are having difficulty inserting the diaphragm correctly, practise before having sex. If too much spermicide is used (1-2 teaspoons is best), it makes it difficult to handle when you try to fold the diaphragm during insertion. For increased protection against pregnancy and STIs, use with a condom.

Where to find it
You can make an appointment with your doctor to have a diaphragm fitted properly to your body.

 

Spermicide

 Spermicide PhotoSpermicide injection diagram

What is it?
A chemical called nonoxynol-9 comes in the form of cream (only for use with diaphragms), gel, foam, film, or suppository. By inserting spermicide in front of the cervix, in the vagina, it destroys sperm on contact. Spermicides should be used along with another method of contraception, such as a condom, because alone they are not highly effective.

Benefits
Along with protecting against pregnancy, spermicide also protects against bacterial infections and pelvic inflammatory disease. It can also be used as an emergency method, if inserted immediately after you have an accident with your primary contraception.

Disadvantages

  • Spermicide can be messy.
  • You have to insert spermicide right before sex, because it’s usually only effective for one hour.
  • It may irritate the entrance of the vagina or the tip of the penis.
  • Using a spermicide alone can increase your risk of HIV transmission, so only use it with a steady partner.
  • The failure rate of spermicides used alone is between 6% (perfect use) and 21% (typical use).
  • The popular spermicide called nonoxynol-9 does not protect people from sexually transmitted infections as previously thought. 
  • Contraceptive products that contain this spermicide, such as condoms, vaginal gels, inserts, and contraceptive film, are now required by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States to carry a label indicating nonoxynol-9 does not protect against STIs.
  • It may actually increase the risk of getting HIV from an infected person, because of the irritation it can cause to the lining of the vagina or rectum.
  • The SOGC recommends that spermicide only be used by women who are at low risk for STIs and HIV, for example, women in monogamous relationships where STIs have been ruled out. It’s best to use uncoated condoms instead of nonoxynol-9 coated condoms.

Troubleshooting
Some spermicides have a bad odour or taste. When buying spermicide, make sure that it’s nonoxynol-9. There are lots of other hygiene-type products that look very similar, and are pretty easy to confuse with spermicide.

Where to find it
You can buy spermicide at any drugstore.

 

Tubal Ligation

Tubal Ligation graphic full viewTubal Ligation diagram zoomed in view

What is it?
In tubal ligation, the two fallopian tubes, which transport the eggs from the ovaries to the uterus, get disconnected. The egg never meets the sperm, and pregnancy is impossible. Tubal ligation is considered permanent, because reversal is costly, difficult, and not guaranteed. A 1-2.5% chance of failure may occur up to 10 years later, because sometimes the tubes try to “heal” themselves.

Benefits
It’s the most effective method of contraception that is controlled by women. It is ideal for women who don’t want to have any more children.

Disadvantages
Pain, bleeding and nausea may follow surgery. Some women eventually regret their choice, and find that they can’t reverse the process. Tubal ligation provides no protection against STIs.

Troubleshooting
Ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy outside the uterus) is more likely to occur in women with tubal ligation. Women showing any signs of pregnancy should contact a physician a.s.a.p.

Where to find it
After a full medical exam and after signing a consent form, a gynaecologist will perform the surgery. Two popular options are as follows: Operating through a very small incision in the bellybutton, this procedure is called laparoscopy or band-aid surgery. It can be performed under local anaesthesia in some cases. Operating through a larger incision in the belly, another option is called laparotomy. This can also be performed under local anaesthesia in some cases. It is less common, but often used when tubal ligation is requested shortly after delivering a baby.

 

Vasectomy

 Vasectomy diagram

What is it?
The surgery blocks a male’s sperm duct and prevents sperm from entering the ejaculate. The male can still ejaculate during sex, but the fluid doesn’t contain any sperm. A vasectomy is considered permanent, because reversal is difficult and costly. The pregnancy rate following vasectomy is 0-2.2%.

Benefits
It’s the most effective method of contraception controlled by a male. The procedure is easy, permanent, and relieves both men and women of contraceptive burdens.

Disadvantages
Swelling may follow the surgery, but the biggest reported problem is regret… and reversal doesn’t always work.

Troubleshooting
Remember that a male can still have sperm in his ejaculate up to 3 months after the surgery, so another method of contraception must be used until check-up time. Condoms should be used to prevent against STIs.

Where to find it
After an examination to see if a male is a candidate for the procedure, a urologist or a general practitioner performs this out-patient procedure under local anesthetic.

 

 Male Condom

 Male Condom PhotoPutting on a condom (Male) English

What is it?
The male condom is a latex sheath that is rolled over a male’s penis to prevent secretions (including semen) from entering the vagina.

Benefits
Condoms are 97% effective when used properly and consistently. Condoms protect you and your partner from unwanted pregnancy. Condoms are inexpensive, easy to use and effective. They’re also your best defence against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) - the only type of birth-control method to offer such protection

Disadvantages
Some males complain about lack of sensitivity. The condom may slip off during sex. Rough handling may cause the condom to break. Some males and females may be allergic to latex.

Where to find them
Your can pick up a pack of condoms at the drugstore or buy one in a washroom, supermarket, convenience store, or free at a family planning centre. For added protection, team up a condom with a spermicidal jelly, foam, cream, suppository or film. These products can stop sperm from moving up the female reproductive tract in case the condom breaks. But remember, spermicides used on their own can facilitate the transmission of HIV.

 

Female Condom

 Female Condom PhotoHow to use a female condom Step 7 (Bilingual)How to use a female condom Step 8 (Bilingual)

What is it?
The female condom is a polyurethane sheath in the shape of a round, upside-down baggie inserted into the vagina before sex. This condom holds in the sperm, preventing it from entering the vagina.

Benefits
It’s the only contraceptive controlled by females that protects them from both pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Used perfectly, the female condom has a failure rate of 5%.

Disadvantages
Some women may have trouble inserting it correctly, and they can be expensive - around $3 each.

Troubleshooting
If you are uncomfortable with it or have too much trouble inserting it, try something more suitable for you or ask for expert advice at a birth control clinic.

Where to find it
You can pick one up at a drugstore or at a family planning clinic.