The questions surrounding pregnancy are often laced with doubts and dilemmas. "Can I avoid an unwanted pregnancy? Is it safe and right to do so?" In a world of planning and strategizing about work, money, and the future, planning a pregnancy and avoiding an unwanted one has become the way forward. The 26th of September every year is celebrated as World Contraception Day since 2007, with the purpose of increasing awareness and access to contraception. The goal is to enhance women's health, stabilize the population, alleviate poverty, and nurture the health of the nation. Contraception is the deliberate use of methods to prevent pregnancy resulting from sexual intimacy.
Complexity of Contraception
Contraception and its awareness and accessibility are a process that prompts introspection on many facets of this vital social intervention. History is replete with evidence of birth control methods adopted to avoid unwanted offspring for centuries.
Yet, it's natural to wonder why ignorance about the usage of these methods persists in such great quantity. Additionally, myths and doubts surrounding the adoption and safety of these well-researched techniques continue to astound a thinking mind.
Impact on Women's Health
Contraception is recognized as a crucial intervention to improve women's health. A healthy woman can create a healthy family, a healthy society, and, consequently, a healthy nation. The persistence of ignorance and taboos related to birth control methods is surprising. Various surveys have shown that women's illiteracy is directly proportional to the lack of awareness and adoption of birth control techniques.
However, it's perplexing to find such ignorance among educated and socially well-placed women. This prompts contemplation on how to make women feel secure in making the right choice.
Understanding Contraception Methods in India
Let's take an overview of some popular contraception methods available in India.
1. Safe Period: The "safe period" is a method adopted by many educated couples, during which intimacy is avoided during fertility periods of the menstrual cycle. However, this method is challenging for women with irregular cycles, and miscalculations can lead to unwanted pregnancies.
2. Condoms: Condoms, popular among men, are safe and non-interventional. They offer protection against sexually transmitted infections and diseases. The failure rate is higher when not used correctly. This failure is often due to improper use or not using condoms during every act of intimacy. Moreover, as a male-driven method, it depends on the male partner's consistent use.
3. Oral Contraceptives: Oral contraceptive formulations for women are safe, time-tested, and effective when properly selected. They contain hormones similar to those naturally occurring in the body. Elevated hormone levels prevent ovulation and thicken internal secretions, preventing unwanted pregnancy and certain diseases. Benefits include regularizing cycles, reducing menstrual blood loss and pain, and stabilizing disorders like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and endometriosis.
Long-term benefits include a lower risk of breast, uterine, and ovarian cancers for those who use these pills for over 5 years during their reproductive age. Fear of infertility, side effects like nausea and vomiting, and the risk of stroke due to blood thickening deprive women of this useful approach toward planned parenthood. Proper patient selection under the guidance of a doctor helps make the right choice.
4. Intrauterine Devices (IUDs): Intrauterine devices, often referred to as "copper T," are safe, effective, and temporary contraception methods. They provide a mechanical barrier to pregnancy implantation within the womb. Copper, being inert, is safe, and various types of IUDs are available. Insertion is easy, safe, and harmless. They can be placed immediately after normal delivery or during a cesarean section, known as post-placental intrauterine device (PPIUCD) insertion. Many women have used this method for the past two decades and vouched for its safety.
5. Injectable Hormonal Preparations
Injectable hormonal preparations, such as depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA), help prevent pregnancy similarly to oral pills. These injections are taken every 3 months and are safe. Side effects may include irregular cycles or amenorrhea. Advantages include treatment for conditions like abnormal heavy and painful menstrual bleeding and chronic pelvic pain. DMPA is also used as therapy for some disorders. The Government of India is promoting awareness of DMPA and PPIUCD to stabilize the population.
It is essential that today's youth is aware of these techniques. However, providing this knowledge can be controversial, as it may be seen as supporting illegal or illicit sexual associations. Acquiring information and knowledge doesn't imply immediate indulgence in a practical act.
Ignorance, on the other hand, can lead to unwanted pregnancies that could have been avoided with the right contraception method. Increasing the use of emergency contraception is both disturbing and an insight into the need for better birth control options in society. These methods are better used under a doctor's guidance, and a regular, more reliable method of birth control should be adopted.
Every young adult has a right to know about their health needs and should approach a doctor for guidance. This is the important step toward a healthy tomorrow. Don't hesitate, don't feel shy. Approach the doctor and ask all your "how" and "why."
Wishing you all a happy and healthy life!