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Of Birth Control and Unwanted Pregnancies

Married for eight years, Robert and Tanya Maxwell had their hands full trying to raise six children. As devout Catholics, the couple were constrained to follow the teachings of their church. In 1968, Pope Paul VI issued an encyclical letter entitled Humanae Vitae which stated that, “.it is always wrong to use contraception to prevent new human beings from coming into existence.” The couple were active in the Catholic lay community and vowed to follow the doctrines of their church. Of their six children, the first three offspring were “intentional” or were conceived with full intent on resulting in pregnancy. They really wanted to only have three children. However, the fourth up to sixth child could be considered “an accident” brought by the heat of passion. While they remained thankful for having six children, each of whom they saw as a blessing from God, they could not help but feel overwhelmed. Having a big family has really taken a toll on their marriage, time, and finances. After some deliberation, the couple decided to adopt birth control methods or family planning. Definitely, the rhythm method was not appropriate for them. For the sake of the entire family's well being, the couple decided to be more open-minded about family planning. Even if Mrs. Maxwell was not so keen on trying methods that were not approved by the Church, she realized that their conservative views got them to into trouble in terms of their family's finances. Ben and Laura, on the other hand, are from from being conservatives. They got married right after their high school graduation. Laura, who was only 18 at the time she got married, got pregnant soon after tying the knot with Ben. The couple underwent sex education in school and said that they always practiced safe, protected sex. Still, life sprang a surprise on them. Roger and Lisa Cooper, unlike the first two couples, had a honeymoon baby. But after starting a new business, they agreed that they would wait to try for the next baby after about two years. They made it a condition to achieve success in their business first so that they would be more financially prepared to have a second baby. But after a few short months after her first baby's birthday, Mrs. Cooper found out that she was pregnant with twins! A lot of couples are concerned about the size of their family as a response to the need to be more financially and emotionally prepared for the challenges of having a large brood of children. For that reason, contraception has become a serious and necessary issue for many couples. But even with all the advances in science and medicine, many are still surprised and overwhelmed by unplanned marriages. The reason for this is simply the lack of information about methods of contraception and family planning. Here are a list of practical and effective methods of contraception that all married couples should be informed about:

1. Th Pill – It is still the most widely accepted birth control method. It is a drug that contains estrogen and progesterone --- hormones that change how the body works and prevents pregnancy. The birth control pill suppresses ovulation and thickens the cervical mucus around the cervix, making it difficult for sperm to reach the uterus to fertilize the egg cells. Some studies show that the use of these so-called combination pills helps lower the risk of ovarian and endometrial cancer. However, scientific evidence also shows that the use of the pill also increases risk for cervical and liver cancer. The side effects associated with the pill varies from one woman to another. Some of the possible side effects include nausea, spotting between periods, depression, weigh gain, among others. The pill is not recommended for those who are diabetic, women with high blood pressure, and smokers who are over 35 years old. The pill is generally marked as 99% effective as a birth control method.

2. The Condom - A thin latex rubber sheath that fits over the erect penis and bars the sperm from entry into the cervix. It is inexpensive, convenient, and widely available. The main advantage of using a condom is that it can protect the user from contracting sexually transmitted disease including HIV and AID. However, the most common complaint about the condom is that some men find it uncomfortable and that it lessens sexual pleasure.

3. Injectable Contraceptive - Injectable contraceptives contain the hormone called Medroxy Progestorone Acetate and prevents ovulation for three months. This method can be used by breastfeeding mothers and offers the woman both privacy and ease. However, the injectable offers no protection against STDs and the effects of the shot are not immediately reversible once you have been injected.

4. Norplant – This method involves the surgical insertion of six matchstick-sized rods in the underside of the upper arm. These rods release a low-dose hormone called levonogrestrel which thickens the cervical mucus, thins the lining of the womb, and inhibits ovulation for as long as five years. The drawback is that some women experienced skin irritation, headaches, dizziness, acne, weight gain, hair loss and nausea. What contraception is right for you? The right answer can really come only from you and your partner. Talk to your health care professional about safe and proven birth control methods. Always remember its best to use some form of birth control method rather than leaving everything to chance. Every couple should be responsible enough to practice safe sex and prevent unwanted pregnancy.


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