Yesterday a fellow blogger AfroMum was having a twitter discussion on contraceptives and whose responsibility it is to use them. You can check out the discussion on the hashtag #afrotalks. Owaahh another blogger wrote a story Vasectomy and the Kenyan Man. It is important that couples have a discussion on protection together.
Contraception is the use of various devices, drugs, sexual practices or surgical procedures to prevent conception or impregnation.
Whose responsibility is it to take contraceptives?
Most men put the burden on the woman as she is the one who gets pregnant. It is funny how people fear pregnancy more than an STI and HIV. The contraceptives are meant to protect against both and you should use a condom if in a short-term relationship. This is because you have not been screened for an STI and condoms are your best bet for preventing this.
You cannot rely on your partner to take care of your contraception. The woman can forget to take her pill which men think never happens and the condom might burst or the man might forget to carry one. Be in charge of yourself.
If in a long-term relationship you can have a talk on what will work for you. Include the doctor in you conversations so they can help in the decision making. If you want to go for the permanent solution, sit down with your partner and discuss when and how you are going to do this.
This article is about the various contraceptives you can use, and their side effects.
How contraceptives work
a. Prevent an egg from being released every month (hormones)
b. Prevent sperms from reaching the egg ( barrier and some IUD methods)
c. Block the reproduction functions in males and females.
d. Prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus (hormones)
Types of contraceptives
The contraceptive pill will prevent you from getting pregnant in 95% of cases and is as effective as 99% if you take them as prescribed. It comes in 2 forms: the combined contraceptive pill which contains the estrogen and progestin hormones and the mini-pill which only contains the progestin hormone.
The pill does not protect the user from contracting a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI).
This is the most common contraception method as it is easy to use affordable and offers the best protection against STIs.
It is usually made of latex but some brands make them using polyurethane or lambskin for those who are allergic to latex. However the lambskin condoms do not provide protection against STIs. You should use a new condom every time you have sex.
The female condom
They are 95% effective in preventing pregnancy and also protects against STIs. They are more expensive but are less likely to bust compared to the male condom. They can also be inserted 8 hours before sex.
This is a barrier contraception method. It prevents the sperm from getting into the uterus. It does not protect against STIs. It must be coated with spermicide each time before sex and needs for it to be effective. It needs to be removed after 24 hours for cleaning.
The cervical cap
It’s shaped like a thimble and is made of latex. It also needs to be used with spermicide. It must remain in the user for at least 6 hours after sex but has to be taken out within 48 hours after sex. It offers partial protection against STIs but does not protect against HIV.
The Intrauterine Device
They are of two types: hormonal and copper-based device. They are a long-term solution and can stay up to five years for hormonal and ten years for the copper based in the user. Their effectiveness is above 99% but they do not provide protection against STIs. It is usually inserted by the doctor and you should follow the prescription.
One shot of hormones lasts in the body for 8 to 12 weeks and has the same effect as the pill. It does not offer protection against STIs.
The contraceptive patch
It is the same as a contraceptive pill but is in the form of a patch. One wears the patch for 3 weeks; take it off for one week allowing for your menstrual cycle then start with a new patch.
They should be taken less than 24 hours after sex to be more effective. If taken after 72 hours the effectiveness drops to 50%. They should also not be used every day. The recommended usage is once a month.
These are permanent solutions but they do not protect against contraction of STIs. They are the male sterilization (vasectomy) and the female sterilization/tube tying.
Side effects of oral contraceptives
a. Inter-menstrual spotting – approximately 50% of people using the pills are affected by this. It resolves in 90% of the cases by the third pill pack.
c. Breast Tenderness
e. Weight gain
f. Mood changes
g. Missed periods
h. Decreased libido
i. Vaginal discharge
j. Visual changes with contact lenses- if you use contact lenses first consult with your ophthalmologist before starting the pill.
Serious side effects
When you exhibit any of these side effects you should see your doctor immediately. They are referred to as ACHES.
a. Abdominal or severe stomach pains
b. Chest pain( severe), cough, shortness of breath
c. Headache(severe), dizziness, weakness or numbness
d. Eye problems (vision loss or blurring) speech problems
e. Severe leg pain in the calf or thigh.
The pill can also be used for
a. Regulation of menstrual periods if you have unregular periods or your periods take an obscenely long time to clear e.g. 5 to 8 days.
b. Menorrhagia which is heavy periods.
c. Dysmenorrhea which is very painful period cramps.
e. Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)
f. Acne, hirsutism (excess hair growth) and alopecia (hair loss)
g. Decreasing the risk of breast cysts, ovarian cysts, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and pregnancies in the fallopian tubes.
• Do not prescribe yourself any of the contraceptives. Go to the doctor and they will advise on what will be good for you and how to take it so that it effectively works.
• It is not recommended to take hormonal contraceptives if there is a personal history of liver or heart disease, uterine or breast cancer, uncontrolled blood pressure or migraines with an aura.
• If you are over 35 and a smoker the combined pill or the vaginal ring might not be suitable. Talk with your doctor