Many years ago, pregnancy was something women couldn’t help, it was almost impossible to prevent it, and, in many cultures, it was also considered something women shouldn’t try to prevent, rather they should try and conceive. Things have changed a lot since then and now women play a bigger role in society, which makes it important for them to be able to prevent pregnancy so they can follow the life path they envision.
While you might think avoiding a pregnancy seems like a complicated task, in fact it’s not. Thanks to scientific advances women all over the world can prevent undesired or unexpected pregnancies, and even if you don’t feel like taking medicine there are other ways to achieve this. Keep reading to discover how to avoid getting pregnant.
1. Track your ovulation days
Ovulation tracker is also known as the natural family planning or the rhythm method. A woman’s cycle consists of an estimated 28 days (this can vary among women), and around the middle of the cycle the fertile days of the cycle happen. Fertile days are those days when ovulation happens, which means the release of an egg that could be implanted and become a pregnancy.
A woman can follow an ovulation calculator using different methods. Some of the most known are measuring the body basal temperature (the body’s temperature at rest) to look for pikes that indicate ovulation (regular basal temperature is between 97.8-98.2 Fahrenheit degrees and when it’s higher than that, ovulation is happening), checking the quality of the cervical mucus -which thickens during ovulation – or logging in an ovulation chart the start and end of their cycle details each month.
For the ovulation tracker method, finding your high-risk days will depend on the length of your period. If your periods are 28 days average, your most fertile days could be 12, 13 and 14. If your cycle is 35 days, your most fertile days can be 19, 20 and 21. If your cycle is around 21 days, your fertile days can be 5, 6 and 7. The purpose of an ovulation chart is to know when to avoid having sex in order to prevent a pregnancy. Using an ovulation calculator has a 76% effectiveness rate when followed properly.
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2. Use contraceptives
Contraceptives are the most common way to prevent pregnancy. In spite of what most people might think, they’ve actually been around for centuries, when people used all sorts of ingredients and techniques to try and avoid pregnancy. In this section we can find several types of contraceptives, and all follow the same purpose.
Barrier contraceptives act, as the name suggests, by creating a physical barrier between the sperm and the egg, so implantation doesn’t take place inside the woman’s body. Some barrier contraceptives have another great function: to prevent people from getting certain sexually transmitted diseases, that’s why these methods are the most popular all over the world. Some of the most common barrier contraceptives are male condoms, female condoms, diaphragms, cervical caps, sponges and spermicide. Barrier contraceptives can show up to 90% effectiveness, depending on the method you pick.
These types of contraceptives are the most advanced kind and show the best results (up to 99% effective). Hormonal contraceptives were first developed in the late 1950’s, and since then it’s one of the most popular contraceptives among women because of their high rate of success. Hormonal contraceptives act by preventing ovulation and then “forcing” a fake period one week of the month. These contraceptives can be in the form of a pill, a patch, injections or a vaginal ring.
Implant contraceptives are some of the most effective ways to prevent pregnancy since they don’t allow for human error. These implants are considered long-term contraceptives because they stay in the body for several years. Some implant contraceptives act exactly like hormonal ones, while others thicken the cervical mucus to impede implantation or even kill sperm that gets inside the body. You can find IUD (Intrauterine devices) or subdermal implants, but please note that all of these need to be placed by a health specialist.
3. Use emergency contraceptives
If you want to prevent a pregnancy there’s another way to do it before it’s too late. Emergency contraceptives are large doses of hormones that can prevent a pregnancy after the sexual relationship happened. They’re usually prescribed when the person forgot to use another preventive contraceptive or the one they used failed (forgotten pill, broken condom). Some emergency contraceptives act hormonally to prevent the implantation or even ovulation before it happens (therefore, these are not abortive medicines), while other emergency methods alter the chemistry of the uterus to prevent a pregnancy.
Since emergency contraceptives contain big amounts of hormones, they can have notable effects on the body, such as menstrual cycle imbalances and heavier or more painful periods. It’s important to remember that emergency contraceptives are to be used exactly like their name states: for emergencies. They should never be used as regular contraception and they’re not even recommended for frequent use.
4. Sterilization and permanent contraceptive methods
Sterilization is a permanent way to avoid pregnancy, so it should be considered thoroughly before opting for it. These types of contraceptive methods consist of men or women undergoing minor surgeries to cut the flow of sperm or eggs in their bodies. In the case of men, sterilization is called a vasectomy, a procedure which snips the tubes that carry sperm.
In the case of women, salpingoplasty consists of clamping, or sealing, the fallopian tubes. These procedures are more than 99% effective and could be permanent. Although in some cases these procedures can be reversed, they do not guarantee a full fertility after, that’s why they should be considered very seriously.
We have mentioned all of the contraceptive methods currently available. Some of them involve hormonal changes and some of them are less invasive and also offer protection against sexually transmitted diseases. However, if you wish to have 100% protection against unwanted pregnancies, the only method that offers it is abstinence. This simply means to avoid having sexual intercourse. Abstinence is the only fully effective way to avoid getting pregnant. Staying clear of sexual intercourse doesn’t mean you can’t have a sex life, so it might be a great choice for certain people who really don’t want to get pregnant but don’t want to rely on artificial contraceptives.
We’ve explored all the ways you can avoid getting pregnant. It’s up to you and your partner (if you have one) to discuss your options and pick the one you find most comfortable, affordable and attractive. Remember that pregnancy could be a wonderful thing if it happens at the right time, and you can control when the right time is thanks to these methods.