Birth Control: The In’s and Out’s (How It works and When To Stop If You Want To Get Pregnant)

Birth control or “family planning” is a way to stop unwanted pregnancies from happening. There are many forms of contraceptive measures that are effective, easy to use, and readily available. Contraceptives can range from the use of medications to devices that prevent unintended pregnancy.

The main groups of contraceptives are hormonal and non-hormonal:

Hormonal contraception involves the release of hormones (progesterone and oestrogen) into a woman’s body to suppress ovulation, thicken the cervical mucus, and thin the uterine lining.

Non-hormonal contraception does not change hormones in a woman’s body to prevent pregnancy. Non-hormonal contraceptives usually physically prevent sperm from reaching the egg.

Types of hormonal contraception

The contraceptive pill

The birth-control pill is an oral contraceptive that is taken at the same time each day and alters reproductive hormones to prevent pregnancy.

The contraceptive patch

The contraceptive patch is a patch that looks like a plaster, is stuck to the skin, and releases hormones to the skin to prevent pregnancy.

The contraceptive implant

The implant is a flexible plastic rod that is inserted under the skin of a woman’s upper arm to prevent pregnancy.

Types of non-hormonal contraception

Condoms (male and female)

Male condoms are worn by a man on his penis to provide a barrier during sexual intercourse. Female condoms are inserted into the woman’s vagina before intercourse to form a barrier during sexual intercourse. The barrier formed by both the female and male condoms prevents the sperm from reaching and fertilizing the egg.

Copper intrauterine device (IUD)

This form of contraception is a T-shaped device that is inserted into a woman’s uterus by a healthcare provider. The copper IUD is a non-hormonal contraceptive that releases a small amount of copper into the uterus. The copper changes the cervical mucus and makes fertilization more difficult. Once used, it can prevent unwanted pregnancy for 5 to 10 years, depending on the type.

Start of contraception

Starting birth control can be daunting if you are not sure which method to choose. It’s always advisable to see a healthcare provider to discuss which option is best for your lifestyle.

Condoms are the only contraceptives that can protect you from HIV and STIs. Remember to always use condoms until you and your partner have been tested for STDs and HIV.

Trying to get pregnant? When to stop using birth control.

Contraceptives do not affect your fertility. Most women can get pregnant within a year of stopping contraceptives. However, when you should stop using birth control depends on which birth control method you choose,

  1. Condoms: you can get pregnant as soon as you have sexual intercourse without using them.
  2. IUD or the Implant: It’s possible to get pregnant right after the doctor removes it from your body.
  3. Contraceptive patches and the pill: Ovulation should return to normal within 1-3 months after you stop using them.

Remember to always check in with your healthcare provider if you are unsure or struggling to fall pregnant.

If you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send a Facebook message, an  Instagram message or a Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).