Environmental biology is one of the critical Biology Topics that involves understanding how humans impact the environment and how to address environmental issues.
Birth Control Methods: How Well Do They Work?
The population of our country is increasing rapidly day by day (see Figure). Though our country has sufficient food resources but still many people do not get sufficient food for their large families (having many children) due to poverty. So, every year it is becoming very difficult for our Government to provide sufficient food, adequate clothing, good housing, and proper education to every citizen of the country. It is, therefore, very important for couples (husbands and wives) who are in the reproductive stage of their lives to control the size of their families by having fewer children by practicing family planning through birth control measures.
Family planning enables a couple to decide on the number of children it wants to have and when to have them. If a couple has less number of children, it can provide good food, good clothes, and good education to each child. This will make the parents as well as the children happy. So, a small family is a happy family (see Figure). It should be noted that having fewer children also keeps the mother in good health. We should remember that keeping the size of our family small by having less number of children is in our interest as well as in the interest of our Nation.
The population is increasing at a very rapid rate. We can see crowds of people everywhere.
A small family is a happy family. Having just one or two kids is the best option. Parents can then provide good food, good clothes, and good education to each child.
This is a Family Planning Centre where people can obtain free advice and contraceptive devices for various birth control measures. Our Government has opened such Family Planning Centres throughout the country.
Family planning can be done by practicing birth control measures. Birth control can be done by preventing pregnancy in females (or women). And pregnancy can be prevented by adopting a method or procedure by which sperm produced during copulation between a man and his wife can be prevented from meeting the ovum (or egg) and fertilising it. It is possible to prevent fertilisation (and hence prevent pregnancy) because the ovum is available for fertilisation only for a short period. Since frequent pregnancies have a very bad effect on the mother’s health, and also add to our already exploding population, several techniques or methods have been developed to prevent pregnancies in women. We can call them birth control measures, family planning measures, or population control measures. These are discussed below.
Birth Control Methods
The prevention of pregnancy in women (by preventing fertilisation) is called contraception. And any device or chemical (drug) which prevents pregnancy in women is called a contraceptive. All birth control methods can be broadly divided into three categories: Barrier methods, Chemical methods, and Surgical methods. We will now discuss all these methods of contraception (or preventing pregnancies) in women briefly.
1. Barrier Methods
In the barrier methods of preventing pregnancy, physical devices such as condoms and diaphragm (or caps) are used. Condoms are used by males (by putting them as a covering on the penis). The condom is called ‘nirodh’ in Hindi. Diaphragm (or cap) is used by females (by putting it in the vagina to cover the cervix). The condom as well as the diaphragm prevent the sperms from meeting the ovum (or egg) by acting as a barrier between them. An important benefit of the use of condoms is that it protects a person from sexually transmitted diseases such as gonorrhoea, syphilis, and AIDS. No other method of contraception protects against sexually transmitted diseases.
2. Chemical Methods
In the chemical methods of preventing pregnancy, the females use two types of pills: oral pills and vaginal pills, which are made of specific drugs. The oral pills contain hormones that stop the ovaries from releasing ovum (or eggs) into the. oviduct. Oral pills are also called Oral Contraceptives (written short as OC) (see Figure). This is a very effective method of preventing pregnancy so long as the pills are taken at the right time. Some women, however, do experience unpleasant side effects on taking oral pills because they change the hormonal balance in the body. So, the women on pills must have regular check-ups with their doctors. The vaginal pills contain chemicals called spermicides which kill the sperm.
Some women choose Oral Pills as contraceptives for birth control. Oral contraceptive pills are popular in India by the name Mala D.
3. Intra-Uterine Contraceptive Device (IUCD)
The use of an intrauterine contraceptive device called Copper-T is also very effective in preventing pregnancy. A Copper-T is placed inside the uterus by a doctor or a trained nurse. The IUCD or Copper-T prevents the implantation of fertilised egg in the uterus. If a woman uses a Copper-T as a method of contraception for avoiding unwanted pregnancies, then Copper-T cannot protect her from acquiring sexually transmitted diseases (if her partner has such a disease).
4. Surgical Methods
Surgical methods of birth control are available for males as well as females. In males, a small portion of the sperm duct (or vas deferens) is removed by surgical operation and both the cut ends are ligated (or tied) properly. This prevents the sperm from coming out. The surgical procedure carried out in males is called ‘vasectomy’. In females, a small portion of the oviducts is removed by surgical operation and the cut ends are ligated (or tied). This prevents the ovum (or egg) from entering into the oviducts. The surgical procedure carried out in females is called tubectomy.
Stop Female Foeticide!
Surgical operations can also be used for the termination of pregnancies in women particularly after eight weeks of conception. Such surgical termination of pregnancy (or abortion) is allowed by law only in certain circumstances where the doctors decide that continuance of pregnancy can affect the health of the mother or the unborn child gravely. Some people, however, misuse the technique of surgical termination of pregnancy for ulterior motives to get rid of the female foetus (or unborn girl child). To have a male child (son), some misguided people in our country get the sex of their unborn child determined by ultrasound technique (though it is illegal to do so), and if it is a female foetus, they get it removed by surgery. This killing of the unborn girl child is called female foeticide. Female foeticide is reducing the number of girls drastically in some societies of our country.
Who knows today’s girl child may become a great scientist, a famous doctor, a top-class engineer, a dedicated administrative officer, a world-renowned economist, a wonderful teacher, or an unmatched world leader of tomorrow. Stop female foeticide! Save the girl child.
For a healthy society, the male-female sex ratio must be maintained at almost the same level. Due to reckless female foeticide, the male-female child sex ratio is declining at an alarming rate in some sections of our society. This must be stopped immediately. Female foeticide is a matter of shame for the couples who go for it and also for the doctors who perform such surgical abortions (or rather murder the unborn girl child) for earning some quick money!
Let us not forget that our mother is a female, our sister is a female, and our wife is also a female. Then why not have a female as our daughter? Remember, daughters are no less than sons. Our Government has already enacted laws to ban prenatal (before-birth) determination of the sex of foetuses. These laws must be enforced strictly to save our society from the grave dangers of female foeticide in the long run. Let us not forget the words of Guru Nanak Dev Ji in praise of women (or females). He said ‘So kyon manda aakhiye, jit jammein raajaan’ (why should we condemn women who have given birth to emperors of the world !).
Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
The diseases which are spread by sexual contact with an infected person are called sexually transmitted diseases (or STDs). Thus, a healthy person can get STDs by making sexual contact with an infected person. Some of the common sexually transmitted diseases are Gonorrhoea, Syphilis, and AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome).
This is Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). The white blood cells (WBCs) of a person destroy disease-causing bacteria and protect the health of a person. HIV infects white blood cells and destroys them gradually. This reduces the immunity (or resistance) of the body to fight diseases. Due to this, diseases that are normally quite mild can kill a person with HIV who develops AIDS disease.
This person is suffering from AIDS disease caused by HIV. The immune system of this person has been damaged making his body so weak that it cannot protect itself against even common infections. This person is just waiting to die.
Gonorrhoea and syphilis are caused by bacteria. The bacteria which cause these diseases spread through sexual contact with an infected person. The most common symptoms of these sexually transmitted diseases are a burning sensation at urination, the passing of urethral discharge (containing pus), and sores in the genitals. Gonorrhoea and syphilis are curable diseases. AIDS disease is caused by a virus called HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus). AIDS damages the body’s immune system so that the body becomes weak and cannot protect itself against infection. So, AIDS is a very dangerous disease that leads to death. No definite cure has been found for the AIDS disease so far.