Sulit Health: Contraception

by Johanna Patricia A. Cañal, MD, MHA, MSc

Disclaimer:  The following article talks about methods of contraception.  Not everyone believes in nor advocates for contraception.  If you are not a believer, stop reading now.  Otherwise, this information may be very important for your decision making.

Not everyone wants to get pregnant.  In fact, there are some who actually prefer not getting pregnant and there are many ways to prevent this from happening.

Abortion is illegal and punishable by jail time.

Abstinence (aka not having sex in the first place) is the most fool-proof and most effective way of not getting pregnant.  But human nature, being what it is, does not always obey abstinence.

There are barrier methods of contraception and these include condoms (male and female), sponges, spermicides and diaphragms.  The purpose is to prevent sperm from reaching and fertilizing an egg.  An advantage of some barrier methods (particularly condoms) is that they not only prevent pregnancy but also prevent sexually transmitted infections.  The downside of barriers is that they artificially made and can (and do) break.  We’ve heard of how condoms break and how a woman will get pregnant anyway.  This is a real risk with barriers.

There are hormonal methods of contraception.  These include the pill and injectable hormones and they are a commitment.  Because these are hormones and anti-hormones, these will affect a woman’s body in both good and bad ways.  Some pills will make a woman’s skin nicer but others will make a woman gain weight.  Finding the perfect pill or hormone will take collaboration between a woman and her obstetrician-gynecologist.

There are implantable contraceptives.  An example is the IUD or medicines like Implanon that is implanted in a woman’s arm and which secretes hormone continuously.  Only a doctor, preferably an obstetrician-gynecologist should implant this.  Done wrong, this form of contraception can cause problems.  Done right, it will provide longer-acting protection against pregnancy.

Then there is permanent contraception—tubal ligation and vasectomy (which finally involves a male!).  A woman’s fallopian tubes are cut in a tubal ligation, making it near impossible for her egg and any sperm to meet and fertilize.  A vasectomy cuts one part of a man’s reproductive tract (the vas deferens) such that when he ejaculates, there is fluid but no sperm cells.

The choice of contraception is not as easy as the few paragraphs above.  It is much more complex than that.  A discussion with an obstetrician or a urologist is recommended to choose the right one for you.

Hello!

This short article is part of a series of articles that is designed to make health care more understandable to non-doctors.

As a way of disclosure, I am a radiologist and a radiation oncologist.  My strengths, therefore, are diagnosing illness, particularly cancer, and cancer treatment.  Thus, I will be talking about medical tests and what these are about.

I shall also be talking about the dreaded disease, cancer.  In the 2nd decade of the 21st century, cancer is the #4 cause of death worldwide. NUMBER 4!  It used to be #10.  It has obviously been going up.  The number 1 and 2 killers are cardiovascular diseases…translated into heart attacks and strokes.  Number 3 is pneumonias and lung diseases.

The previous century was known as the century of infectious diseases.  The most common causes of disease and death were bacterial and viral pneumonia and tuberculosis.  The present century is the century of the lifestyle disease.  That is, infections don’t play as big a part as lifestyle diseases.  What are those?  Heart disease, strokes, cancers and injuries/accidents.

But then again, the 21st century has just started, and we already have a pandemic.  One never knows what will happen in the next 10, 20 or 30 years.  Thus, this series will discuss a range of topics, hopefully the topics most relevant to you.

If there is a topic that you want clarified, please do drop me an e-mail at [email protected]Please just fill in the subject line with: [SULIT] Your question

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