|Home | Issues | The Daily Star Home | Volume 1, Issue 15, Tuesday September 9, 2003|
The continual search for the perfect contraceptive
A woman's ability to plan her reproductive life without outside interference and to possess the information, education, and means necessary to do so is basically her right to family planning.
Obstacles in the way of women's access to contraceptive choices - by strictly regulating or prohibiting contraceptive methods and information, or by requiring a husband's consent for the use of contraception - violate her right to family planning. For a couple, where both the partners are working, contraception or the ability to choose and plan their families is a pressing issue that needs to be dealt with. In today's uptight urban world you just cannot afford to be callous about such crucial decisions.
The right to plan one's family gives rise to a governmental duty to ensure that men and women have equal access to a full range of contraceptive choices and reproductive health services and that they have accurate information about sexual and reproductive health. Nearly 1 in 6 women of reproductive age, lack information on and access to a full range of contraceptive methods, which results in more unwanted or mistimed pregnancies. To avoid such unnecessary traumatic encounters a full range of contraceptive methods are accessible for you to avail.
"There are two methods available, temporary and permanent. It has been seen that females, most of the times are adapting to contraceptive methods. There are also other natural family planning methods like calendar method, using condoms during danger period when a female ovulates, however these are extremely unreliable methods because ovulation time might shift or differ in one's monthly cycle," says Dr. Nusrat Zaman, Associate Professor in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Comilla Medical College.
temporary methods for females are pills, IUCD, injection and implants,
for males it is the condoms and the permanent methods for women are
bilateral tubectomy and males is non-scalpel vasectomy.
is 100 percent safe and later on does not interfere with the menstrual
cycle. The female partner can enjoy her periods. The pills available
in our country are the 'new generation pills', which are low dosage,"
Women suffering from liver, heart, blood clotting disorders, migraine, breast tumours should resort to other methods because these are the only few contra-indication for using pills. Low dosage pills have no side effects. Few side effects like weight gain, symptoms like headache, nausea, are usually adjusted within a few months, Dr. Zaman relates the basics.
there is the 'Morning after' pill or emergency contraception pills like
Postinor-2 which are taken only in case of unprotected sex, where two
tablets are required to be taken within 72hrs of unprotected sex,"
concept of IUCD (Intra Uterine Contraception
T coated with the hormone progesterone is used in the western world
but are unavailable here. Females who have had one or more child are
advised to use it. Side effects of copper T may be slightly increased
periods and occasional discharge and the person should maintain regular
contact with the physician. It is safe and well accepted but rejected
by some, as it may feel uncomfortable. Rumours say it could cause cancer,
however it is well accepted by users and many prefer this rather than
taking pills every day. Devices available in our country are for three
years and should be re-introduced.
only temporary method available for males is the condom, definitely
the ideal method to prevent AIDS or other sexually transmitted diseases.
"Among the high-risk group i.e. commercial sexual workers and for
those who maintain relationship with promiscuous partners, condom method
is the best option. But for those married couples this method, though
it is well- adjusted for some,
Permanent methods are bilateral tubectomy to cut the two tubes in order to interfere with conception. Minor operation is done under local anaesthesia with a small incision in the abdomen and the patient can go home taking a little rest and does not interfere with her daily activities.
The permanent method for males is known as vasectomy, now done by non-cut techniques, known as non-scalpel vasectomy (NSV). Both the permanent methods are quite popular and are carried out both by the government and NGO level and are accepted by those couples who have at least two or more children or have completed their families. The permanent method does not interfere with the potency or conjugal life of any partners.
It is a matter of fact that all available choices of contraception target the female population, mainly because conception is her business, thus it's her body her choice. Females have the right to choose their own method of contraception and should always be helped to choose from all the options and decide on the method most comfortable for them. It is the basic right of a female, and for any modern couple this should not pose as a dilemma.
a woman eat a bee and she shall never conceive"
This happens to be just one example of the several fabulous fictions in which medieval minds seem to specialize. But in truth, people all over the world have used several forms of contraception, since time immemorial. Strange as they might seem to use today, these methods were the result of the continual search for the perfect contraceptive.
The 4000 year old Kahun Papyrus, the oldest written document on birth control, refers to vaginal pessaries made of crocodile dung and fermented dough.
Arab traders were the first to use intra-uterine devices. When taking camels to the market they placed small stones in the uterus of the female camels to avoid them becoming pregnant on the way.
Condoms made of linen, and the skins of sheep, goats, even snakes have been used.
Cotton soaked in lemon and dried fish were also considered to prevent pregnancy.
In Constantinople, women used sea sponges, sometimes soaked in lemon juice or vinegar.
Dried ground up cow dung mixed with honey was placed inside the vagina as a form of birth control.
Over 4000 years ago, women in China drank mercury to prevent unwanted pregnancies.
In India, carrot seeds were used as a means of oral contraception.
In North America, women in New Brunswick made a kind of white soup brewed with dried beaver testicles.
Silphium, a species of giant fennel that once grew in North Africa, was the aristocrats' contraceptive -- the classical equivalent of lambskin condoms.
The Victorians were fond of the block pessary -- a square block of wood with concave sides. It was finally condemned in 1930's as an instrument of torture.
In Persia, the pennyroyal herb along with pomegranate pulp, willow leaf and colocynth were used to end a pregnancy.
Queen Anne's Lace or Wild Carrot was considered to be highly effective. This plant was used 2000 years back. Hippocrates mentions it in his writings as an oral contraceptive and as an abortifacient.
"Breast-feeding is a complete and reliable natural contraceptive"
This misconception often leads to unwanted pregnancy and induced abortions.
Raffat Binte Rashid
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