The topic of birth control has been widely studied but remains controversial because of the lack of education among the population, both younger and older generations. At this time, there are many options from which people can choose to use, depending on gender, health needs, and concerns, as well as access to healthcare. Therefore, it is essential to know about the options for birth control, such as male condoms, female condoms, the pill, IUD, and birth control implants, including their advantages and disadvantages. Besides, it is important to consider vasectomy as a surgical method of birth control and discuss its implementation and reasons why a person may consider doing it. Finally, issues of birth control and fertility also apply to the LGBTQ population, which has continuously experienced challenges in accessing and receiving adequate responses to their needs.
Birth Control Methods
Condoms are the most widespread methods of birth control, which create a barrier preventing semen and other body fluids from getting into the vagina. They are easy to use and help prevent sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Compared to other preventative methods, condoms are cheap and easy to access, and there is no preliminary plan necessary to use them. When used correctly, male condoms prevent 98% of pregnancies (Johnson, 2020). In terms of disadvantages, condoms may leak or break, cause an allergic reaction, they decrease sensation during intercourse, while some people may be embarrassed to purchase or use them. Due to the wide access to condoms in grocery stores, drug stores, and other locations, it is imperative to educate younger generations about the advantages of condom use and their importance for preventing pregnancies and STDs.
A birth control pill is a pharmacological approach to preventing pregnancies that includes hormonal contraception. The pill is taken by mouth based on a schedule, and if taken correctly, it can prevent the occurrence of around 99.9% of pregnancies (Johnson, 2020). Birth control pills, depending on their type, contain a small amount of estrogen and progestin, which help stop the body from ovulating, thus preventing a possible pregnancy. However, the pill does not prevent STD contamination and does require a prescription from a doctor in most cases. Among key disadvantages of using birth control include side effects ranging from mood changes to increased possibility of blood clots. Nevertheless, it must be noted that there are other reasons why women and folks with ovaries may choose (or get prescribed) to take the pill, not for reasons of contraception. For example, the pill can make menstruation regular, lighter, and less painful, prevent the occurrence of pelvic inflammatory disease, reduce symptoms and PMS, or even cause an improvement in cystic acne.
IUD (intrauterine device) is a physical birth control method that is considered safe and effective to use by women, even though it is not for everyone. It is a bit bigger than a quarter in size and has a T shape, which makes it easy to be fitted inside the uterus. If used correctly, the IUD makes the chance of getting pregnant less than 1% (Johnson, 2020). The benefits of the birth control method include that they are long-lasting, the cost one has to pay is just for one device, they are safe with breastfeeding, and they are hassle-free after the insertion. The disadvantages include the possibility of a heavier period and the fact that IUDs do not protect from STIs and STDs.
Birth control implants represent devices that go under a woman’s skill, preventing pregnancies by releasing the hormone etonogestrel. The hormone helps the body not to release eggs and makes the service thicker. The implants work more than 99% of the time, which shows that they are more effective than condoms (Johnson, 2020). However, it is important to mention such disadvantages, such as side effects in the form of pain, bruising, or swelling, as well as possible infection and scarring.
Female condoms are long plastic pouches that are placed inside the body during intercourse. They have flexible rings at both ends to hold them in place, lining the vagina to collect semen and other fluids. When used correctly, female condoms are effective at 95%, which makes them the least effective among the available forms of contraception (Johnson, 2020). The disadvantages of female condoms include the possibility of irritating partners’ skin, the risks of them slipping out, and decreased effectiveness of preventing STDs compared to male condoms.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Vasectomies
A vasectomy is a small operation, the aim of which is to prevent pregnancy by blocking sperm from getting to the semen during ejaculation without causing any issues during orgasm. Vasectomy is a straightforward procedure that takes around thirty minutes at the doctor’s office, with the patient being able to go home straight away after it. While complications are not common, there are possible side effects in the form of an ache or feeling of discomfort, sperm granuloma, spermatocele, and hydrocele. However, if a person does not want children, it is a reliable form of birth control and causes fewer issues compared to tubal ligation carried out in females, and it is also less expensive. As to concerns regarding sex drive, people should not be worried because the procedure does not affect testosterone levels, sex drive, erections, climaxes, and any other part of sex life.
Childbirth and Fertility in the LGBTQ Community
When it comes to childbirth and fertility issues in the LGBTQ community, there is little research evidence dedicated to reproductive health priorities and health care experiences. According to Winfo, Ingraham, and Roberts (2018), the study showed that the reproductive health care needs among the LGBTQ community included the treatment of PCOS and irregular menstruation, fertility assistance, and gender-affirming hysterectomies. The participants indicated that their sexual and reproductive needs were met with many challenges. The bulk of the issues cross-cutting across identity groups is the lack of focus on fertility, the absence of providers’ LGBTQ health competence that is relevant to reproductive health priorities and treatment, as well as discriminatory attitudes and treatment.
It is vital to note that the reproductive health priorities of the LGBTQ communities include needs that are also relevant among heterosexual and cisgender groups, such as contraception, PCOS, and abortion. However, there are also group-specific needs that require more attention, such as safer sex guidance and hysterectomies promoting gender affirmation; besides, the fact that there are challenges in accessing care and receiving adequate support from their providers. Many representatives of the LGBTQ group also need help with fertility treatment. Therefore, more attention should be paid to the needs of the community, as there is not enough education and awareness among providers.
A Hypothetic Situation
Exploring a hypothetical situation about a gay man who would like to become a father and address fertility can reveal important takeaways about the options of the LGBTQ community. First, it should be noted that same-sex couples are “six times more likely to be raising foster children and four times more likely to be raising adopted children” compared to heterosexual couples (Gurevich, 2021). Second, besides fostering and adopting a child, a gay man’s option for becoming a father includes him becoming a sperm donor to implement insemination through a surrogate. The surrogate can either be inseminated through IVF or IUI/ICI (Seattle Sperm Bank, 2021). Such methods are open to gay people, whether they are single or have a partner. However, it should be noted that because of different legal intricacies and variances between states regarding the establishment of parenthood for LGBTQ couples and singles, a person must consult with a lawyer to consider the available options.
Because of the abundance of methods of birth control, each person has the option to choose the approach that is most suitable for them. It is notable that condoms are the only form of contraception that offers strong protection not only from insemination but also from sexually transmitted diseases. However, more attention should be paid to the concerns of people from the LGBTQ community because of the lack of provider education and awareness regarding their reproductive health needs. Issues of birth control and fertility are intimate and depend on the needs of each person. However, there needs to be more attention to having open conversations about options and their advantages and disadvantages.
Gurevich, R. (2021). Having a baby when you identify as LGBTQ. Web.
Johnson, T. C. (2020). Birth control: What type is right for you? Web.
Seattle Sperm Bank. (2021). Choosing the right insemination method for you. Web.
Wingo, E., Ingraham, N., & Roberts, S. C. (2018). Reproductive health care priorities and barriers to effective care for LGBTQ people assigned female at birth: A qualitative study. Women’s Health Issues, 28(4), 350-357.