Knowing about contraceptives or birth control is part of the responsibility of being sexually active. Gone are the days when unplanned/ unwanted pregnancy should frequently occur, but in Nigeria 1 in 7 women have tried to have an abortion contributing to Nigeria having one of the highest maternal mortality rates (death of pregnant women) in the world.
Many women tell stories of how they’ve been told that using antibiotics such as Ampiclox (ampicillin +cloxacillin) by Beecham can prevent pregnancy. Please know that using Ampiclox cannot prevent pregnancy and this is a case of drug abuse
; ampiclox cannot kill sperm or prevent or stop a pregnancy.
(read about questions young women ask about sex here)
What are Contraceptives?
These are drugs or medical devices used to prevent pregnancy (ie. conception). Contraceptives can be either temporary or permanent; since most people want temporary contraception, let’s discuss that. Most contraceptives contain hormones, while a few do not; the Hormonal Methods contain drugs that look like one or two of your natural female reproductive hormones called progesterone and oestrogen. These methods include:
1. Daily contraceptive pills:
There are two types, the combined oral contraceptives
which is a daily pill containing two low dose hormones,
one estrogen and one progestogen. A brand to buy is Levofem.
There is also the progestogen only contraceptives
called the mini-pill which is also taken daily but contains only one low dose hormone
and works best if you’re breastfeeding a baby. One other advantage of daily pills is they help correct menstrual problems like irregular menses.
2. Contraceptive Injection:
Did you know that there are injections which can be used to prevent pregnancy for 1, 2 or 3 months? I quite prefer the three month option, as it means you will only take 4 injections in a year. You can ask your health provider for the one called Sayana Press because the needle is very small and the dose of the hormone is lower than in any other 3-month contraceptive injection. Contraceptive injections are very convenient and a good choice for women who usually forget to take their contraceptive pills daily. It is also good for women who because of their health status, should not take oestrogen containing medicines (eg. women breastfeeding babies younger than 6 months or women at risk of thromboembolism (blood clot in the veins). This injection is affordable so go get yours so you can stop worrying about pregnancy for the next 3 months.
3. Contraceptive Implant:
This is a tiny flexible rod (smaller and thinner than a matchstick) that is inserted under the skin of your upper arm by a health professional and contains a progestogen hormone which is released slowly into your body system. This type of contraceptive can work for 3-5 years after insertion and you can ask your provider to remove it for you anytime you are ready to get pregnant.
4. Intra Uterine Systems (IUS):
This is an small T-shaped device that contains hormones and is placed by a specially trained doctor into your womb to prevent pregnancy and has some additional advantages. (This method is available but not yet common in Nigeria)
On the other hand, you may decide that you do not want any benefits from using hormones, or your health provider may decide that for you, because of your health status eg. if you have heart disease. For you, there are two types of non-hormonal contraceptives, they are:
Condoms are great because they will prevent pregnancy and many sexually transmitted infections (STIs). As a bonus, there are many different types of condoms (Coloured, dotted, textured, flavoured…) so there’s fun in trying a different type every time you have sex. Remember, for double protection, use a condom especially if you don’t know your partners sexual history and bot of you have not done STI testing.
2. Intra-Uterine Devices (IUDs):
IUD is a small device that does not contain hormones and is placed by a specially trained doctor into your womb to prevent pregnancy. This method is very effective and safe for many women and starts working immediately it is inserted and stops working once it is removed.
All these options should be used before you have sex, but to learn about emergency contraceptives, (what you can use after sex), read here.
Most Nigerians are scared of permanent methods, when you’re in your 50’s and raising your grandchildren (especially for men), you don’t want that 23 year old gal you’re playing around with showing up with your newborn child. For women, you may have given birth to 4 to 8 kids and decided that enough is enough, and you do not want to become a baby factory. For either of you, there’s
1. Vasectomy (for men): It involves cutting and closing off the sperm ducts(tubes) to prevent sperm flow. It does not affect erection or ejaculation.
2. Tubal ligation (for women): This is known as tying your tubes- fallopian tubes are the egg transport system). It does not disturb sexual relations or reduce arousal.
Using contraceptives is a legal and responsible decision for every one who has sex to do, so what’s stopping you? If you need advice deciding what method to use, Email: email@example.com
Ps: I have only mentioned methods that you can find in Nigeria, so you can actually get them. I’ll update the list once there’s more options in the country.
Which of these methods sounds like what you need? leave a comment below