Reproductive System

Sexual Response and Conception

What are the main types of birth control?

Spermicides, condoms (male and female), the diaphragm, the cervical cap, and Lea’s Shield are barrier methods. Oral contraceptives (birth control pills), injections of hormones, the vaginal ring, and skin patch are various types of hormonal methods of birth control.

Formerly called the “rhythm method,” natural family planning is also now called periodic abstinence or fertility awareness. It involves a variety of different methods, including basal body temperature method, ovulation/cervical mucus method, symptothermal method, calendar method, and lactational amenorrhea to monitor the times of fertility during an individual woman’s cycle.

Withdrawal requires the man to remove his penis from the woman’s vagina prior to ejaculation thereby not allowing sperm to enter the woman’s vagina. However, sperm may be present in the fluid prior to ejaculation, so this method is not very reliable.

Sterilization, called a vasectomy in men and tubal sterilization in women, permanently blocks the pathways for sperm and ova. In men, the vas deferens are cut so sperm cannot mix with semen. The tubes that carry sperm to the penis are clamped, cut, or sealed so that the ends do not heal and rejoin. In women, the fallopian tubes are closed by tying, banding, clipping, blocking, or cutting them, or by sealing them with electric current.

A vasectomy is an outpatient procedure that effectively sterilizes the patient. LifeART image copyright (c) 2008. Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins.

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