Contraception, also known as birth control, is a device or medication used to prevent unwanted pregnancy or childbirth. It refers to prevention of sperm fertilization into egg. In this era of rapidly increasing population, the use of various contraceptive measures are extremely essential.


History of Contraceptives

The history of contraception dates back to the discovery of the connection between pregnancy and coitus. The ancient means of contraceptives included pessaries, coitus interruptus and abortifacient.

1.    Pessaries – It was a vaginal suppository made of various acidic substances, which was later lubricated with honey or oil. Such a method was believed to kill sperms. The Asian women used oiled paper as the cervical cap, while the Europeans used beeswax for this purpose. The introduction of condoms was witnessed in the 17th century. It was then used both as a means of contraception as well as to avoid syphilis.

2.    Coitus Interruptus – This method involves the withdrawal of the penis from the vagina prior to ejaculation. For the successful completion of this method, self-control in the men is very important.

3.    Abortifacient – In the past, women used to drink arsenic, mercury and other toxoc substances to prevent pregnancy. Greek history provides the instances of women drinking the water used by blacksmiths to cool metals, for this purpose. Many herbalists believed the use of black cohosh tea as an abortifacient for contraception.


Various ways to perform Contraception

1.    Physical methods – This method includes a variety of ways. One such way is physically preventing the sperms from entering the vagina. Other methods include: surgical alteration of male and female reproductive organs to induce sterility, making woman's reproductive tract unfriendly to the sperms and so on.

2.    Hormonal methods – These methods provide a variety of delivery methods. They include combined oral contraceptive pill, patch, combination of synthetic oestrogens and progestins, contraceptive vaginal ring and so on. Progestin is another method used as a contraceptive.

3.    Emergency contraception – Copper intrauterine devices are used as emergency contraception. It is inserted within five days of unprotected sex or birth control failure.

4.    Barrier methods – In this method, a physical impediment is placed inside the female reproductive organ to prevent the movement of sperms. The most common barrier method is the usage of male and female Condoms.

5.    Surgical sterilization – This method prevents sperm from joining the unfertilized egg.

6.    Induced abortion – Drugs are used to prevent pregnancy. Herbs can also be used for abortion.

7.    Intrauterine methods – These contraceptive devices are placed inside the uterus. They are either copper-containing or progestogen-releasing.

8.    Behavioral methods – It involves the regulation of timing or means of intercourse to prevent entering of sperm into the vagina, when an egg is present.


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