Contraception is one method used to control the number and timing of pregnancies (family planning). Other methods include permanent contraception Permanent Contraception Permanent contraception involves making a person incapable of reproduction. Disrupting the tubes that carry sperm or the egg ends the ability to reproduce. This form of contraception should... read more (intended to avoid pregnancy permanently) and abortion Abortion Induced abortion is the intentional ending of a pregnancy by surgery or drugs. A pregnancy may be ended by surgically removing the contents of the uterus or by taking certain drugs. Complications... read more (used to end an unintended pregnancy when contraception has failed or not been used).
There are several methods of contraception. None is completely effective, but some methods are far more reliable than others. Effectiveness often depends on how closely people follow instructions. Following instructions for some methods is easier than for others. Thus, the difference in effectiveness between typical use (how most people use it), which is often inconsistent, and perfect use (following the instructions exactly) may vary greatly from one method to another. For example, oral contraceptives are very effective with perfect use. However, many women forget to take some doses. Thus, average use of oral contraceptives is much less effective than perfect use. In contrast, contraceptive implants, once inserted, require nothing more (and are thus used perfectly) until they need to be replaced. Thus, typical use is the same as perfect use (until implants need to be replaced). People tend to follow instructions more closely as they get used to using a method. As a result, the difference between effectiveness with perfect use and that with typical use often decreases as time passes.
Besides its degree of effectiveness, each contraceptive method has other advantages and disadvantages. For example, hormonal methods have certain side effects, which may increase or decrease women’s risk of developing certain disorders, including cancer of the ovary or uterus. Choice of method depends on lifestyle, preferences, and the degree of reliability needed.
If contraception fails, emergency contraception Emergency Contraception Emergency contraception is used after an act of unprotected sexual intercourse or after an occasion when a contraceptive method fails (for example, when a condom breaks). Emergency contraception... read more may help prevent an unintended pregnancy. Emergency contraception should not be used as a regular form of contraception.