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MAMTA Health Institute for Mother & Child | New Delhi

Selecting a method of contraception

In general, all methods that are appropriate for healthy adults are also potentially appropriate for healthy, post-pubertal adolescents. However, as with adults, informed contraceptive decision-making entails consideration of more than just medical safety.

When selecting a method, each adolescent should consider the nature of his/her sexual behaviours, risk of STIs/HIV, efficacy of a method, ability to comply with use, services available, cost, convenience, partner’s attitude, and additional personal factors that may influence the decision and method compliance. Young married women must also explore their desires regarding pregnancy prevention, future fertility plans and their own protection, while considering contraceptive options.

Convenience: The convenience of a method depends on a number of factors. Does it require a device that must be purchased in advance? If so, can it be purchased over the counter as needed, or is a consultation with a doctor and a prescription required? Will the method work at a moment’s notice, or as with the birth control pill, will it require time to reach maximum effectiveness? Some couples feel that few things dampen ardour and spontaneity more quickly than the need to pay attention to a contraceptive device in the heat of passion. Use of contraceptives such as the condom and the diaphragm need not interrupt sexual activity, however.

Moral acceptability: A method that is morally acceptable to one person might be objectionable to another.

Cost: Methods vary in cost. Some more costly methods involve devices (such as the diaphragm, IUD) or hormones (pills) that require medical visits in addition to the cost of the devices themselves.

Sharing responsibility: Most forms of birth control place the burden of responsibility largely, if not entirely, on the women. The woman must consult with her doctor to obtain birth control pills or other prescription devices. Some couples prefer methods that allow greater sharing of responsibility, such as alternating use of the condom and diaphragm. A man can share the responsibility for the birth control pill by accompanying his partner on her medical visits, sharing the expense and helping her to take the pill.

Safety: The use of a contraceptive depends upon how safe is the method and what are the side effects.

Reversibility: This refers to the effects of a birth control technique or device. In most cases, the effects of birth control methods can be fully reversed by discontinuing their use. In other cases, reversibility might not occur immediately as with oral contraceptives.

Availability within the country or the health system: The choices of contraceptives available vary from country to country and hence their use among the individuals.

Protection against sexually transmitted diseases: Birth control methods vary in the degree of protection they offer against sexually transmitted infections. This is especially important to people with one or more partners who are not known to be free of infectious diseases.

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