Contrary to popular belief, contraception has NOT started with the pill. The truth is contraceptive and abortive methods have been practiced for almost as long as we have practiced sex – and the controversy around them is more recent than one might think.
Here you’ll learn about the history of contraception, the taboo around it, and the pros and cons of most common methods.
A Brief History of Fertility & Contraception
Historical Birth Control Methods
The advent of the Pill
In the middle of the twentieth century, the contraceptive pill was introduced to the pharmaceutical market. And even if we had been avoiding babies through all of history – this had a never before seen impact in the way our relationships changed as well as the advance of women’s rights.
Modern contraception methods & how to use them
- Condoms have been used since the beginning of times, and essentially, have changed very little. Today, they are one of the most effective methods not only in preventing unwanted pregnancies, but also regarding the transmission of STIs.Female condoms are also a great alternative, especially for those allergic to latex. They work just like male condoms, but they are introduced into the vagina - and they protect the vulva against infections, too!
- Birth control pills contain a dose of hormones which prevents women from ovulating – hence, stopping pregnancy. When used correctly, it has a high efficacy rate (over 95%). However, hormonal contraception has been proved to cause collateral damage for many people. We’ll dive deep into these risks further down.
- Just like pills, injections, stickers and rings are also hormonal contraceptive methods. The advantage is you don’t need to remember them every day – one dose can be good for up to three months. However practical, they can also bring about the same problems pills do.
- The diaphragm looks like a little sponge that should be introduced to the cervix right before sex. It is quite effective when used correctly, and hormone-free. However, it’s not the most practical of methods and therefore not very popular.
- IUDs are little devices made from metal which are surgically placed inside the uterus and prevent conception. Some of them are completely hormone-free – some of them release low-dose hormones. IUDs are effective and can be good for years, but their cost can be high – and they can worsen period pain.
- While the “morning after” pill is not a contraceptive method, as it is used AFTER sex, it’s still worth noting. This pill is NOT abortive, a common misconception. What it does is it hormonally stops conception from happening inside the uterus. However, it contains a high hormonal dosage and should be only used in emergency cases.
A brief reflection on contraception
Risks, costs, and other things to consider:
While all contraceptive methods present risks, the usage of hormonal contraception, especially long term, can bring quite alarming consequences. Women taking the birth control pill can have migraines, depression, and bloating. And long term, the pill is linked to higher risk of cancer, infertility, and blood clots – which can lead to strokes and thrombosis.
Sharing the responsibility:
While there’s been studies on a male contraception pill, it’s not among us yet. But there’s a tendency to leave the responsibility of birth control solely on women’s shoulders. We must manage costs, risks, as well as the consequences of possible unwanted pregnancies.
This imbalance is unfair, and makes no sense. Since the start of our civilization we have known about the importance of birth control. It’s about time we face it without taboo, and redistribute this responsibility equally.
Have you ever had a conversation with your partner about contraception? Have you ever talked about the costs? The best way to have the conversation it’s just starting. After all, this is an important topic!
So, what contraception should I use?
What about you?
written by Pimenta Cítrica
SOURCES FOR THIS ARTICLE INCLUDE