Family planning is among the topics that come up when someone is in a very serious relationship. In Ghana, there are lots of options for birth control, which we are dedicated to share with you. Back in the day, Ghanaians in a serious relationship had a very simple choice of either using the condom or the pill. Today, a number of methods are available to suit everyone’s preference, lifestyle, as well as circumstances. The issue that might be running on your mind is which of the methods is effective with no side effects.
The decision on which birth control to go for is always personal because no choice can be described as best or maybe safest for all couples/women. Do not stress; read on to take a close look at family planning methods in Ghana, their effectiveness, as well as possible consequences and effects.
Birth control options for women/couples
What is your family planning objectives/goals? That is what you should consider before you start thinking about birth control options. A couple has to decide when they would like to have kids and how many. This is because they desire to give their kids attention, education, love, and care. For them to offer all that, they have to limit the number of kids so that they can be accommodated by the available resources.
As a woman who is between the ages of 18 to 35, you should time your pregnancies because you are at an ideal childbearing period. If you have a miscarriage, give yourself at least a 5-6 month break of not trying to get pregnant again. Even after giving birth, give yourself a break so that your body can get back to its normal condition. After deciding your family planning objectives/goals, you will definitely notice that you either need to delay (prevent pregnancy) or prepare for pregnancy.
Birth control options for delaying (preventing) pregnancy
If you want to delay or prevent pregnancy, then it means that you are not ready for a family or maybe you are having a break from giving birth. We can broadly classify the delaying (preventing) pregnancy methods into barrier methods, hormonal birth control method (prevent ovulation), and methods which allow the egg to fertilize though prevent implantation of that fertilized egg in the womb/uterus. Here are birth control methods and types of family planning that are available in Ghana.
1. Barrier methods
Barrier methods prevent the the sperm cells from reaching the egg. Examples of barrier methods include diaphragms, cervical caps, and condoms.
Diaphragms have a rubber cup that is dome-shaped with a very flexible rim, which covers a woman’s cervix. A woman inserts the diaphragm into their vagina before sexual intercourse. The diaphragm is usually used with spermicidal jelly or cream. If you are allergic to latex (spermicides), then avoid this contraceptive form to avoid risk increment of developing infections at the urinary tract. Note that after lovemaking, you should not remove the diaphragm for about 6 hours. To avoid Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) risk, it is advisable to remove the diaphragm within 24 hours. If you use the diaphragm correctly and consistently, then it can be an effective contraceptive method.
Note: Ensure to remove the diaphragm within 24 hours to reduce infections in the urinary tract.
There are condoms for both males and females in Ghana. Female condoms are quite expensive compared to the male condoms. This is because female condoms are made from the polyurethane plastic that conduct body heat; the male condoms from latex. You and your partner cannot use condoms at the same time.This is because they will pull each other. The fact remains that the female condoms are hard to insert and sometimes they irritate vaginas. This is the major reason why most men prefer to insert the condoms instead of their partners. Condoms can be effective if only you use them effectively.
Note: You and your partner cannot use condoms at the same time.
The diaphragms and the cervical caps contraceptive methods have similarities. The only difference is that cervical caps are smaller; you have to position it directly onto your cervix to be effective. When you position it well, it will block the sperms. Cervical caps can be useful to those ladies with shaped vaginas because they won’t struggle to position it like the diaphragms.
Note: The cervical cap, unlike the diaphragm, can be worn for longer periods without odor.
Spermicide is basically a chemical which destroys sperms thus stopping the reaching of the sperms to the egg. Vaginal spermicides are normally available in tablet/suppository, foam, cream, and gel form. The spermicide chemical is combined with the barrier methods like cervical cap, condoms, as well as diaphragms. If you waiting to commence using the IUD or maybe oral contraceptives, then you can use vaginal spermicide as a back-up option. Note that if you are allergic or sensitive to its contents, then you should not consider this birth control option. If you use the vaginal spermicides correctly, then they are effective.
Note: Spermicide contains chemicals that prevent sperm motility, hence killing them.
Barrier methods side effects may include:
- They can increase your risk of developing UTI (Urinary Tract Infections) especially when you use spermicide or diaphragm.
- You can have allergies because of the chemicals that are used in spermicide products, which can result to irritation of the penis/vagina.
- When you leave the cervical cap or diaphragm for a long time, you will definitely boost your risk chances for TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome) and other infections.
Note: The barrier methods are effective when used properly.
2. Hormonal birth control method
Hormonal preventing/delaying pregnancy options involve hormones for preventing ovulation. A good example of this method is oral contraceptives, commonly known as the pill. Other forms of birth control besides the pill are injections, patches, implants, and vaginal ring.
The pill/oral contraceptives
COC’s has estrogen as well as the progestogen hormones. This pill is used to prevent pregnancy. It halts ovulation and at the same time thickens a woman’s cervical mucus that halts the man’s sperms from entering the uterus. You have to take the pill each day and use it properly for effectiveness. If you smoke or maybe you are above 35 years, then you should avoid using this pill. What you should know is that this pill cannot interfere with sexual intercourse; it regulates your menstrual cycle as well as reduce cramping. Common oral contraceptives/pills side effects include:
- Skin discoloration.
- Mood swings.
- Weight gain.
- Breast tenderness/swelling.
- It can change your menstrual flow.
There other serious side effects of pills especially to women over the age of 35 years or those who smoke. The complications include:
- Blood clots.
- Blood clots.
Note: Avoid the pill if you are on any drugs for example smoking, to prevent serious health complications.
Injections last for at least 3 months, they are not taken daily like pills. If you have a rather busy life, injections can be your ideal option. The injection usually contains a hormone called progesterone that stops ovulation and thickens a woman’s cervical mucus to halt the reaching of the sperms to the egg. Possible side effects of using injections include:
- Spotting or irregular bleeding.
- Weight gain.
- Hair loss.
- If you halt the injection, then you can have a 6-18 months delay before your menstruation gets back to normal again. Note that you can also have a delay in getting pregnant.
Note: You can consider using injections if you feel like you could miss a day while taking pills due to procrastination or forgetfulness.
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Implants are flexible capsules/rods that are small; they contain a hormone called progesterone. The contraceptive implants are usually inserted/implanted under a woman’s upper arm skin. The implants insertion as well as removal require a very minor surgery making it quite expensive in Ghana. The good bit about the contraceptive implants is that they can stay for even 5 years. The progesterone hormone is usually released gradually into a woman’s bloodstream resulting to thickening of the cervical mucus as well as blockage of the sperms thus preventing ovulation. Possible side effects of this method may include;
- Occurrence of spotting or irregular menstruation.
- Weight gain.
Note: Only go to a health care professional to have the implant inserted so as to avoid complications.
This contraceptive, also known as a V-ring, has a flexible ring that has a diameter of about 2 inches. The ring contains hormones such as synthetic estrogen and progestin. So where do you place the ring? The ring is usually placed directly into a woman’s vagina so that the hormones can be released and absorbed into the bloodstream. The ring halts the ovary from releasing and producing mature eggs, thus preventing pregnancy. Some women enjoy using the vaginal ring because it reduces their menstrual flow as well as acne. Some side effects that women may feel include
- Vaginal discharge while using vaginal ring.
Note: You should use the ring for about 3 weeks and remove it for a week.
Contraceptive patches are usually placed onto a woman’s skin directly. Patches contain synthetic estrogen as well as progesterone. These synthetic hormones are then released gradually via the blood stream from the skin. Patches halts ovulation as well as thicken a woman’s cervical mucus to prevent reaching of the sperms inside the egg. If you weigh less than 89kg (equivalent to 198lb), then this option will be effective for you. The possible side effects of patches may include;
- Light skin irritation.
- Reduced menstrual flow.
Note: You should apply a new patch every week, for it to be effective.
3. Intrauterine Device
Methods that stop implantation include the Intrauterine device (IUD). They allow the egg to fertilize, but stop implantation of the fertilized egg in the womb.
The clinician/doctor places the IUD in a woman’s uterus; it is small and plastic. Some of the devices contain synthetic hormones such as progesterone while others have copper. All IUD’s are used to stop the fertilization of the egg. The good bit about IUD’s is that they spoil you with choices, you can go for the 1, 2, or 5 years placement. During the placement of the IUDs, it is normal to experience pain and cramping. Your periods will be reduced after the first months of their insertion. Common side effects usually depend on the type you are using;
- If you use IUD’s that contain copper, you may experience cramps and worsen menstrual.
- If you use IUD’s that contain hormones, you may experience headaches, acne, or even breast tenderness.
Note: IUD is the best option for when you haven't given birth yet.
4. Natural family planning methods
These natural methods are perfect for those women who can track their menstrual cycle in order to determine ovulation days to avoid sex or maybe use barrier methods. Examples of natural family planning methods include the ovulation test kit, basal body temperature, cervical mucus examination, and rhythm method.
Note: For the option to be effective, you have to record and keep track of your periods well.
Most Ghanaian couples who attend Catholic Church, prefer using this contraceptive method. A woman is supposed to observe her natural body signs to track her fertility days. The main noted signs include cervical physical changes, cervical mucus secretion, as well as basal body temperature. If you use it diligently and correctly, it will be an effective method.
A woman is supposed to diligently monitor her menstrual cycle pattern using the 14 days before and after periods. Note that a sperm can live for at least 3 days while an egg has a lifespan of 24 hours. If your menstrual cycle is normal or regular, then this method can work for you.
SDM (Standard Days Methods)
The SDM natural method uses colored beads for keeping track of fertile days. A woman avoids unprotected sex whenever she finds out that she is not safe. Some women who want to get pregnant also use this method so that they can identify their fertility days.
5. Permanent family planning options
If you want to stop childbearing permanently, then you can go for surgical sterilization method, which include tubal ligation or vasectomy. Tubal ligation is for women while vasectomy is for men. For a woman, the fallopian tube is either blocked or even cut meaning that the egg cannot meet the sperms during sexual intercourse. Note that the menstruation period will continue normally.
For a man, the vas deferens tube is usually cut or even blocked meaning that the sperms will not be carried from the testicles. Note that you will continue to ejaculate as well as erect even after vasectomy though no sperms. Keep in mind that surgical sterilization may not be reversible.
Permanent birth control side effects for surgical sterilization
Most women who have had surgical sterilization (tubal ligation) rarely have side effects that is after recovering. If you have any surgery, there some risk that you undergo like bleeding or maybe infections majorly because of the anesthetic agents.
For men, vasectomy procedure has small risks like pain as well as swelling. Note that you can be fertile for the first periods after the surgery. This means that you will have to use other birth control options for about 10 to 12 weeks.
Note: This is the best method to consider if you do not want children completely.
If you are a new mother and your periods have not resumed, then you can consider LAM (Lactational Amenorrhea Method), which will require you to breastfeed your baby both day and night without feeding the baby with anything else. LAM will stop the egg released from reaching the ovary.
Note: This method is only effective in the first 6 months after giving birth making it a temporary birth control method.
Family planning methods in Ghana are quite a number. It is entirely up to you to figure out which one works for you. If you want to prepare for pregnancy, then adjust your normal diet, check your relationship as well as lifestyle, visit a medical care professional to take a look at your health condition, and also budget for the baby.
The information in this article is not intended or implied to be a substitute for the professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. All content including text, graphics, images, and information contained on or available through this page is for general information purposes only.
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