• The Sexist Nature of Contraception: Get to know it well

    Women, especially working women in this day and age have been empowered to the extent that they can now have free access to means to control their own fertility. Tools of birth control available in the market for women include oral pills, intrauterine device (IUD), intrauterine system, female condoms, diaphragms, vaginal rings, cervical caps. Newer methods include implants and patches. Although not all the methods are 100% effective, each comes with its own set of side-effects.

    Why you should know your contraception well

    In ancient times, women in China consumed a drink made of lead for birth control. Almost all the times, it lead to brain damage or death. Egyptian women used to stuff their vagina with a paste made of honey, sodium carbonate and crocodile dung for the same reason.

    Oral contraception is one of the most widely used contraception methods in the world today. When they came out in the 1950s, they were written off for being too ‘obscene’. It has become more of a lifestyle drug, while many argue against it due to its related side effects, which include hypertension, depression, vaginal lubrication and decreased sex drive.

    Another popular form of contraception is the Intrauterine device, more commonly known at the copper-T. It is a reversible permanent method of contraception, where a doctor inserts a device inside the woman. Side- effects include irregular menstruation and painful cramps. There is also a possibility of pelvic infections and damage to the womb.

    Implants could cause depression and mess with hormone levels, which may lead to moodiness and irritation.

    48% of the total population agree to be active users of birth control, and this number is constantly rising as education and family planning awareness is reaching the grass-roots. 

    Available options of contraception for men in the market include condoms and vasectomies. Reversible permanent implants are available but not so popular. There has been growing research on male contraception through oral pills and/ or hormones.

    It can be observed from the above that most of the research and implementation has largely been focused on the female reproductive system. What can also be seen that no research has been carried out to the extent of making contraception safe and free from side- effects. The already tumultuous hormonal life of a woman is further disturbed by use of given techniques, which might also affect their abilities in the public sphere.

    We as women need to realize this for ourselves if we want to put our bodies through the pain and discomfort, or if we want to take this up as an important gender issue. 

    Women, especially young girls in India, find it difficult to buy birth control for themselves. This takes the control back from the hands of the women, leaving them with a uterus that remains an object of experimentation.

    We as women need to realize this for ourselves if we want to put our bodies through the pain and discomfort, or if we want to take this up as an important gender issue. We also need more public policy initiatives towards making contraception a more gender neutral space and promote research that is targeted towards developing and spreading more awareness about birth control tools for men.

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