Methods Not Recommended For College-Age Women
The cervical cap works much the same way as the diaphragm and has similar effectiveness rates. A small latex cap is inserted by a woman before intercourse and fits over the cervix, serving as a barrier to semen. Spermicide inside the cap is held against the cervix and can destroy any sperm that make it past the barrier. The cap cannot be pushed into the uterus, even though it is smaller than a diaphragm. It is difficult to find this method, which must be prescribed, in the United States, and it is unavailable in Berkshire County.
Fertility Awareness (Rhythym Method)
Fertility awareness methods of birth control are not recommended for college-aged women because they require a relatively stable ovulation cycle. As ovulation is easily effected by stress, illness and exercise, college-aged women are not likely to have stable cycles.
Fertility awareness hinges on the identification of a woman's fertile and infertile days. Most importantly, a woman must determine when she ovulates. Usually, a woman will work with a doctor to accurately determine her cycle by charting her body temperature and mucous discharge. It is important that consistent and accurate records are kept and that thorough initial instruction is received.
These methods are accepted by almost all religious groups. They are relatively inexpensive and require no medication. Fertility awareness can be discontinued easily and can be used to plan a pregnancy.
Keeping precise records requires a high level of motivation. Abstaining from intercourse on fertile days can be frustrating for some couples. Finally, women with irregular periods or whose emotional or physical habits alter physical changes may have trouble predicting ovulation.
Intrauterine Device (IUD)
The intrauterine device, or IUD, is a small device which is placed inside the uterus to prevent pregnancy. At the present time only one IUD is available for insertion, the Progestasert. This IUD must be replaced yearly.
The exact method in which the IUD functions is unknown but it appears to interfere with the implantation of a fertilized egg. Infection fighting white blood cells gather in the lining of the uterus and disrupt the normal structure of the uterine lining. The Progestasert IUD further improves its effectiveness by releasing progesterone into the uterus.
An IUD may cause pelvic inflammatory disease or make an existing infection worse. Also, an IUD user has a risk of developing a pelvic infection that is 1.5 times greater than someone using another method of birth control.
The gynecologists at the Health Center strongly recommend an alternative form of birth control for people who have not already had children and who might wish to later in life. This is due to the increased potential for sterility due to scarring of the fallopian tubes by a pelvic infection. Also, IUDs tend to fit better in women who have either experienced childbirth or had an abortion because these enlarge the uterus, providing more room for the IUD.
Coitus Interruptus (Withdrawal)
Coitus interruptus, also known as withdrawal, has long been used as a contraceptive technique. Using this method, a couple may have intercourse until ejaculation is imminent, at which point the male withdraws his penis and ejaculates away from the genitalia of his partner.
There are many disadvantages associated with this method. Demanding strenuous self control, the male may fail to withdraw or may not withdraw fast enough to prevent sperm from being released. "Oops" is not a good word to hear in regard to this method. Even when withdrawal is successful, some preliminary ejaculatory fluid can dribble out at any time during intercourse. For these reasons, the withdrawal method has one of the higher failure rates for contraceptive methods, and does not eliminate the chance of transmission of HIV and other STDs.
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