Unwanted pregnancy is a burden that comes with a lot of physical and emotional outcomes and necessitates abortion. Abortion, in turn, comes with its own set of negative health impacts. In India, abortion-relation health complications and deaths are not negligible. So, it is of utmost importance that we prevent an unwanted pregnancy, rather than terminating it. While there is no dearth of birth control techniques in the country, a new and more effective method has recently been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The name of the new birth control method is Annerova.

This is a vaginal ring which can be used for a year unlike the existing ones which need to be replaced every month. Annovera is used for three weeks and then removed for a week. Before re-inserting it, the vaginal ring is washed and kept inside a case. Annovera provides contraceptive efficacy for up to 13 cycles of use (1 year) by releasing birth control medications namely segesterone acetate (150 mcg) and ethinyl estradiol (13 mcg). It has a success rate of 97 per cent.

After using Annovera, you may experience symptoms like nausea, abdominal pain, breast tenderness, irregular bleeding, diarrhea etc. Also, you should not not use this ring if you are above 35 and addicted to smoking. Apart from them, people with a history of breast cancer, high risk of arterial disease, severe cirrhosis, and undiagnosed abnormal uterine bleeding should also avoid using it.

Annovera will take some time to be introduced to India. However, there are other effective methods that will help you prevent an unwanted pregnancy successfully.

Birth control pills
Birth control pills are traditionally used protection methods against unwanted pregnancy. They come in two varieties: Combination pills and progestin pills. While the combination drug contains the hormones oestrogen and progestin, progestin pills contain only the progestin hormone. These birth control pills inhibit female fertility by thickening the cervical mucus and making it difficult for sperms to enter the uterus. They also prevent ovaries from producing eggs. You need to take 1 pill every day till you the time you want to avoid being pregnant. It is best to take the pill at the same time every day. In case of progestin-only pills, the time gap between two pills should never be more than 27 hours. It can increase your risk of getting pregnant. These pills need are said to be 9 per cent effective. They come with additional benefits like reduced acne, lowered risk of developing various diseases like ovarian cancer, ectopic pregnancy, endometrial cancer, anaemia, and pelvic inflammatory disease. They also relieve you of menstrual cramps. However, there are some side effects as well. They include nausea, vomiting, headache, breast tenderness, weight gain, irregular bleeding, mood swings, or decreased sex drive. So, it is advised that you consult your doctor before opting for birth control pills.

Also, there is another type of birth control pill known as emergency contraceptive pill. These pills are of two types: The ones containing ulipristal acetate and the ones with the hormone levonorgestrel. The former should be taken within 5 days of having unprotected sex while the later needs to used within 72 hours (3 days). These pills work by delaying ovulation. Remember, they don’t terminate a pregnancy and hence, will be ineffective if you are already pregnant.

Intrauterine device (IUD)
IUD is a T-shaped device that is placed inside your uterus by a nurse or a doctor to prevent unplanned pregnancy. The procedure takes 5-10 minutes. An IUD works by preventing sperm from reaching the egg and fertilizing it. In India, there are two types of IUDs, namely hormonal IUD and copper IUD. The former works by releasing a form of progestin hormone called levonorgestrel. This method prevents pregnancy for 3 to 5 years. Using a hormonal IUD can reduce menstrual cramps and bleeding. It can also prevent endometrial cancer and relieve the symptoms of endometriosis (a medical condition in which tissue lining the uterus grows outside the organ).

A copper IUD, on the other hand, can stay for up to 10 years. It is more commonly used than the hormonal IUD and is the most commonly used IUD. In case of a copper IUD, you may experience discomforts like cramps and bleeding. However, they will subside on their own. It is generally recommended to have an IUD inserted during menstruation as during this period of time, your cervix remains sufficiently open. The success rate of IUDs is very high. They fail only in exceptional cases if they get pushed out.

Like other contraceptive methods, IUDs also have some side effects. A copper IUD may increase menstrual bleeding or cramps and you may also experience spotting between periods. In a rare scenario, perforation may occur during insertion. In that case, the IUD should be immediately removed. Also, there are chances for IUDs being pushed out of the uterus into your vagina. This generally happens when the IUD is inserted just after childbirth or in a woman who has not been pregnant yet. Moreover, it is a costly method and does not provide protection against STIs.

Diaphragm birth control
It is a flexible cup made of silicone or latex that you can insert into your vagina before having sex. It does not contain any hormone. Doctors advise the use of spermicide with the diaphragm for better results. Spermicide is a chemical which comes in the form of a gel or cream and prevents sperms from reaching the eggs. This barrier method, which is said to be 94 per cent effective, doesn’t work as a hindrance to your sex life. make sure that you do not leave it for more than 24 hours in your vagina, or else, you may get bacterial. Also, if you are allergic to latex, then go for the variety made of silicone in order to avoid urinary tract infection. However, you must remember that this device doesn’t protect you against sexually transmitted infections and may cause vaginal irritation. Moreover, you need to insert it every time before having sex and cannot use it during periods.

Birth control ring
A birth control ring is soft and flexible ring that is easily inserted into the vagina to prevent your ovaries from releasing eggs. The good news is that you don’t need to change it every day as it is effective for approximately three weeks. Apart from birth control, this ring helps in preventing cysts in the breasts and ovaries. It also reduces your risk of developing endometrial and ovarian cancers, infections in uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tube while alleviating the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. A birth control ring also comes with some side effects including vaginal infection, irritation and discharge. In few cases, it can also lead to headache, nausea, vomiting, pain in breasts, decreased sex drive, change in weight or appetite, or dizziness.

Condoms are available for both men and women. But, in India, mostly men use them. Condoms not only prevent pregnancy but also protect you against STIs. It is considered to be 97 per cent effective. Unlike other contraceptive methods, a condom can be purchased without any prescription. This easy-to-use birth control option, which can be used only once, does not affect your fertility A wide ranging variety of condoms are available in India, differing in texture, flavour, and size. If you are allergic to latex, then for latex-free options. There are chances that the condom may tear off during intercourse due to excessive friction and cause unwanted pregnancy. Therefore, always go for a reliable brand and check the expiry date of a condom before using it.

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