Contemporary methods of contraception

Contraception includes all methods that prevent the occurrence of unwanted pregnancy. There are several methods of contraception that differ in safety (probability of conception), and other characteristics such as comfort during sex, way of use, proper use …
When choosing a method, it is important to be informed about its advantages and disadvantages, possible side effects, the effectiveness of pregnancy protection and sexually transmitted infections, and the correct way of using it. You need to consider your age, health status, how often you have sexual intercourse, as well as personal attitudes and beliefs. For this reason, the best thing is to consult with your gynecologist who will help you to make a decision.

Fertile days
Fertile days represent a period in the menstrual cycle of a woman when the probability of conception is the highest. During the cycle, the ovary releases an egg that is ready for fertilization and this process is called ovulation. To determine fertile days, we need to look closely at the female menstrual cycle.

The menstrual cycle is the period between two menstrual bleeding. The menstrual cycle lasts for 28 days, but this period is different and can last between 24 and 35 days. The cycle can be divided into two parts – before ovulation and after ovulation. The first day of menstruation is calculated as the first day of the cycle. The length of the period before ovulation, and therefore the length of the cycle varies. However, the period after ovulation is almost always the same length: for some women it lasts 12, for some 16, but the average length is 14 days. Considering that the released egg cell lives from 12 to 24 hours and that sperm can survive within women for up to 5 days (on average 3) – the most fertile period is about 5 days before ovulation and 1 to 2 days after ovulation, that is, since the ovulation occurs about 14 days before menstruation – the most fertile period is from the nineteenth day before the next period until the tenth day before menstruation.

Couples who follow the menstrual cycle and avoid fertile days as the only type of contraception often mistakenly think that the period lasts for exactly 28 days and that ovulation occurs exactly 14 days from the onset of menstruation. Such an attitude often leads to unwanted pregnancy. Finally, it should be noted that not every bleeding is a menstrual bleeding, that the period does not last exactly 28 days for most women, and it is very difficult to accurately determine when the ovulation will occur. For all of the above, if you do not want pregnancy, we recommend that you use another type of contraception.

Barrier methods – condom
Barrier methods of contraception are physical methods that prevent seeds (sperm) from coming into contact with the egg, and that is how the unwanted pregnancy is prevented. There are male and female condoms.

Condom for men
It is probably the most popular method of contraception. Condom is the protection that is put before sexual intercourse on the penis in erection.

Condoms should not be used with oil-based lubricants such as Vaseline because they can lead to latex cracking. Also, putting two condoms (one over the other) does not lead to greater security – on the contrary, due to friction, both condoms are broken. After sex, the condom should be wrapped in a handkerchief and thrown away (but not in a toilet bowl). If a condom gets broken, a new one should be put on immediately and if necessary, take the “pill for morning after”. If condoms are used properly, they provide protection in 98% of cases – which is an extremely high protection against unwanted pregnancy. It is very important that condoms are not used only for contraceptive purposes but also provide exceptional protection against sexually transmitted diseases such as AIDS (HIV infection), gonorrhea or condyloma.

Condom for women
A condom for women is also named femidom. Nowadays, it is rarely used and is not as widespread as a classic condom. It represents the protection of polyurethane that is placed in the vagina before the intercourse starts so that the outer ring remains out of the vagina. It’s harder to break a female condom than a condom for men and is effective in 95% of cases.

Hormonal contraception – pill
Hormonal methods of contraception are based on the influence of hormones on the female menstrual cycle. All hormonal methods of contraception are currently envisaged for women, although studies aimed at finding hormonal contraception for men are already in the final stages. Hormonal methods are pills, patches and injections.
Oral contraceptives, popularly known as pills, are tablets containing synthetic versions of female sex hormones – estrogen and progesterone. There is a large number of different pills, but all of them when taken correctly, affect the menstrual cycle, and the probability of fertilization is very small. Today’s pills have fewer hormone doses than earlier pills and therefore there are less side effects.

Pills are a very reliable and easy way of contraception, and that makes them very popular. They provide unhindered sexual intercourse, periods are less painful, they reduce symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, and after cessation of taking them, the possibility of conceiving is quickly restored. Unwanted effects are mild and can often be eliminated by switching to another type of pill. They include headache, breast tenderness, acne, flatulence, loss of sexual desire… Pills do not provide protection against sexually transmitted diseases.

Spiral
Spiral or IUCD (intrauterine contraceptive device) is a small plastic or copper insert in the shape of a letter T which the doctor puts into the uterus. Once it’s set up, you do not have to worry about contraception. When placed once, it can remain from 3 to 5 years in the uterus and is effective in 98% of cases. Unfortunately, there are some disadvantages – it is possible that menstrual bleeding becomes abundant and painful (it gets better after 3 months) and there is small chance of getting an infection in the first 20 days since the spiral was placed. A regular examination is advised.

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Darko Jović

Word of doctor

Doc. PhD. Darko Jović

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