Contraceptives or Birth control are methods or devices used to prevent pregnancy. Some methods, like condoms, also prevent transmission of STDs. There is a wide range of contraceptives available thanks to comprehensive research and study. The most effective among these is sterilization (vasectomy in men, tubal ligation in women) and Intra Uterine devices (IUDs) with a success rate of 99.8%.  Hormonal contraceptives such as pills, patches, injections, barrier mechanisms like condoms and diaphragms are widely used all over the world.

However, studies and a general consensus have shown that the most commonly used method of contraception is the male condom and the ‘morning-after’ pill. Each accounts to 25% of most commonly used contraception methods. Use of contraception has been reported to decrease maternal deaths by 40%. It also increases the rates of child survival by increasing the time gap between two consecutive pregnancies. According to studies conducted till 2010, the percentage of women using contraception was highest in Russia and the United States and lowest in the Sub-Saharan countries in Africa.

Not all contraceptives provide protection against Sexually Transmissible Infections or STIs. Barrier contraceptives such as male and female condoms are the best bet against STIs. Over 50% of STI complaints are from those aged 20 to 29 years. Although abstinence is the only method that offers 100% protection against STIs and pregnancy, it can’t be considered as a viable option.

Emergency contraception is, in a matter of speaking, a curative method. It is used to prevent an unplanned pregnancy after you have had sex without the use of contraceptives. The iPill or the ‘morning after ’ pill are examples of emergency contraception. These are more effective the sooner they are taken after unprotected sex. But, emergency contraception doesn’t provide any preventive measures against STIs.


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