Birth control has completely revolutionized the world of sex and pregnancy. In today’s day and time, men and women across the world use birth control to engage in safer sex. Birth control can benefit people in so many ways including, the obvious, protecting against unwanted pregnancies to preventing the spread of different STDs.
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This resource comes in so many different shapes and forms and there are methods out there that can suit almost every person or couple. With this said, birth control has had a long history. It has been down a long bumpy road to get to where it is today. This adversity has led it to be the huge industry that it is today and allows it to help millions of men and women across many different countries.
As stated before, birth control had come a very long way. It dates all the way back to around 3,000 B.C., as our ancestors made condoms from materials such as fish bladders, linen sheaths, and even the intestines from different animals (Thompson, 2013). To the people of today, that probably seems absurd because they are used to taking a little a pill each day, and not having to worry too much about getting pregnant. The creation of birth control moved at a slow-moving pace, but it eventually became an amazing scientific break-through. In 1838, a more modern condom came to light, as it was made of vulcanized rubber (Thompson, 2013). While this is not the latex condom that is known today, it was a huge step up from condoms made of animal intestines. Margaret Sanger was a very influential figure in the world of birth control, and even one-hundred years ago she knew its importance (Watkins, 2012). She challenged society by opening the first birth control clinic in the United States in 1916, which ultimately led her to thirty days of jail time as she was deemed guilty of maintaining a public nuisance (Thompson, 2013). After her release, she continued to push forward and faced more legal turmoil as she fought for Americans to the right to birth control (Thompson, 2013). In 1960, Sanger’s hard work finally paid off as the first progestin-estrogen oral contraceptive, more commonly known as the pill was authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (Watkins, 2012).
In less than a decade, the FDA also approved early versions of IUDs such as the Lippes Loop and Copper 7 (Thompson, 2013). This was the start of a birth control method that is still largely influential in the modern world of birth control. At this point in time, birth control was only allowed to be practiced by married couples, but in 1978 the Supreme Court legalized birth control for all Americans through the case Baird v. Eisenstadt (Thompson, 2013). In the early 2000s, the world was introduced to more modern versions of female contraception such as Mirena, Ortho Evra, the Nuvaring, Essure, and Implanon (Thompson, 2013). All five of these methods of birth control are still practiced today, almost twenty years later. Many people who engage in sexual relations in today’s day and time have heard of or used of the day after pill. This became available in 2013 when Plan B One-Step hit the shelves and could be bought without a prescription from a licensed medical doctor (Thompson, 2013). This brings us to today. In 2018, research is being done to find new methods of birth control that can protect against different STIs as well as methods of birth control for men (Thompson, 2013). It is easy to think that birth control was just invented and everyone could take it, but we can now see that it was a long process full of many legal battles and lots of research.
More so than permanent methods, there are many forms of temporary birth control methods out there that can reduce the risk of pregnancy. Most people choose to use hormonal methods such as oral contraceptives, birth control patches, NuvaRings, hormone shots, and rod implants (UW Health, n.d.). The most common of these methods are oral contraceptives, more commonly referred to as the pill. Oral contraceptives are effective because they prevent the fertilization of an egg, or they prevent ovulation altogether (Watkins, 2012). The NuvaRing and single rod implant are becoming increasingly popular in today’s day and age, due to the fact that they are not administered daily (UW Health, n.d.). Another method of birth control that is very safe and easy is the barrier methods. These include condoms, diaphragms, cervical caps, and sponges (UW Health). Barrier methods are easier to obtain and more convenient because they can be bought over the counter, and do not need to be prescribed by a doctor like the hormonal methods. Today, barrier methods are more commonly used as a second method of birth control, simply because the hormonal methods have a higher success rate so they are less likely to cause pregnancies. With this said, the condom is the only known type of contraception that also protects against STDs and STIs (UW Health, n.d.).
Another widely used method to prevent pregnancy is Emergency Contraceptives such as the Plan B One-Step pill (Thompson, 2013). This method can be taken 120 hours after unprotected vaginal sex and are fairly effective at preventing pregnancy (UW Health, n.d.). We also know that IUDs can serve as a method of Emergency Contraceptive if it is put in within a week of unsafe sex (UW Health, n.d.). The final method of contraption is the natural family planning method which includes the ovulation method, the symptothermal method, and the rhythm method (UW Health, n.d.). These methods have their advantages because they are completely natural and don’t rely on any chemicals. Of these three methods, the ovulation method is probably the most popular, as it can be performed by observing a woman’s cervical mucus to determine when she is or isn’t ovulating (UW Health, n.d.). When done properly these methods have a 90-95% success rate because they are incredibly detail oriented and require a lot of planning (UW Health, n.d.). These temporary methods of contraception are incredibly beneficial due to the fact that they can be stopped very quick to compensate for the changes in life and relationships. While yes, they are not as effective as the permanent methods, they are can be incredibly effective when used properly. These methods are particularly beneficial for young people who want a family in the future but are not ready to conceive a child at a certain point in their life.
Fortunately, for people who know they do not want to conceive children, or have already reached their desired number of children, there are permanent methods of birth control. In order to achieve sterilization, men have to undergo a vasectomy and woman undergo tubal ligation (Finoulst and Amy, 2010). During a tubal ligation procedure, the surgeon will most likely use a laparoscopic approach, to tie off the Fallopian Tubes, thus not allowing an egg to travel from the ovaries (Finoulst and Amy, 2010). As medicine has advanced, this procedure has become very safe and requires very little anesthesia and recovery time (Finoulst and Amy, 2010). Similarly, male sterilization is a very simple procedure as well, that only requires local anesthesia (Finoulst and Amy, 2010). In this procedure, a urologist will cut the vas deferens tube so that sperm can no longer fuse with the semen (Planned Parenthood, n.d.). This does not change the amount of semen that a man produces, but it will just keep it from containing any sperm that could impregnate a female (Planned Parenthood, n.d.). This procedure also does not affect the testosterone levels within a man (Finoulst and Amy, 2010). In order to receive a sterilization procedure, one must go through an extensive amount of counseling to avoid feeling as if they made a mistake later down the line (Finoulst and Amy, 2010). With that said, these procedures can be reversed with hard and complicated surgeries, but there is no guarantee that fertility can be reestablished after a vasectomy or tubal ligation (Finoulst and Amy, 2010). These procedures have many pros and cons, but it depends on the outlook of an individual on which is which. Some may see that they or their partner cannot get pregnant as a great thing, but some may feel differently. This method of contraception is definitely the most successful, but it has to suit the individual or couple.
Unfortunately, when being sexually active, you not only run the risk of pregnancy, but you also run the risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease. The best way to be protected from both pregnancy and STDs is to practice abstinence, and not have sex at all. With this said, if someone is having sex it is best to be in a monogamous relationship or at least reduce one’s number of sexual partners (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016). It also very smart to be vaccinated for hepatitis B and HPV (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016). While, monogamy and vaccinations are good ways to prevent STDs, the only contraceptive method that also reduces the risk of developing an STD is the use of condoms. Male latex condoms should be used every single time someone engages in intercourse, including anal and oral sex. (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016). For people who have latex allergies, there are brands that are latex free that can keep both party’s safe from the spread of STDs (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016). As these contagious diseases are becoming more prevalent hopefully, there will be new methods of both contraception and STD prevention in the near future.
From the ample amount of research I have done, I now know so many more ways to protect myself from pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. I have learned the long history that these products have faced, to get to where they are today. These contraceptive methods are things that people take for granted every day, but it is something that impacts the lives of so many people. They allow us to take our relationships to the next level, without having to worry so much about the life-altering effects it could have on our lives. I believe that birth control and contraceptive methods should be practiced by people of all ages and genders because even when fertility ends, you still risk the contraction of sexually transmitted diseases when engaging with a sexual partner. In my opinion, you should always be using at least one, if not two, or even three methods of contraception when having sex at all ages of life but especially as a teen. Becoming pregnant or contracting an STD in your teenage years, would not only affect your intimate relationships but also the way you live for the rest of your life.
There is so much to know, and even more to learn about different methods of birth control and contraception. Research is being done every day to enhance and create new methods of temporary and permanent birth control, as well as creating new methods of protecting against the spread of sexually transmitted disease. In the years to come, the timeline of birth control will extend, and birth control will further revolutionize the world of sex and pregnancy.
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