World Contraception Day is celebrated every year on the 26th of September. The campaign aims to create awareness regarding safe sex, reproductive rights and sexual health. The vision of the annual campaign is to strive for a world where every pregnancy is wanted. For women, awareness regarding contraception is especially important. It helps them recognise their reproductive rights, and decide if they wish to have a child or not. In a conservative society like India, where topics like sex are still taboo, spreading awareness regarding contraception is even more crucial. Responsibility for the pregnancy still mainly falls on women, and contraception helps take control of your life. It helps women make informed decisions, and empower themselves with the right information.
This World Contraception Day, DocVita spoke to Dr. Astha Jain Mathur, an Obstetrician and Gynaecologist practising in Indore. It was a privilege to learn about contraception and safe sex from an expert like herself. Dr. Jain Mathur started the session by explaining how contraception is not “one size fits all”, and is different for each individual. Your choice of birth control should be decided based on your health, family health history, lifestyle and goals. She added that before making any decision, you should consult a medical professional.
The first method of contraception Dr. Astha introduced us to was the barrier method. This method includes the use of condoms, dental dams and diaphragms. The OB-GYN noted that this method was the only birth control method to offer protection from sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
The next method of birth control Dr. Astha introduced us to was one that is most preferred by women – oral contraception. “There are many types of pills available for birth control. Different pills have different doses of hormones in them. We prescribe oral contraception based on the patient. Especially for pills, it is essential to consult a doctor because your prescription depends on your existing health conditions and family history”, the doctor explained. She also added that while oral contraception is useful for the short term, it is not advisable as a long term option.
The next birth control method Dr. Astha Jain Mathur discussed was the Intrauterine Devices (IUDs). An IUD is a device that is inserted into the uterus. It is coated either with copper or medicine and kept inside the womb. A copper IUD is non-hormonal, and increases copper ions in the cervical mucus, and acts as a spermicide. A hormonal IUD that is coated with medicine regularly secretes the medication in the womb. An IUD is a long-acting reversible contraceptive and can be in use for five to ten years. It works very well and does not cause much discomfort or pain to the user.
However, due to many misconceptions and stigma around the IUD, many women in India do not prefer it as it is invasive, added Dr Jain Mathur. She clarified that while IUDs have side-effects like all forms of contraception, the pros far outweigh the cons.
The next method of birth control the gynaecologist talked about is the permanent, irreversible one. Dr Astha told us that this method is advised to women who have completed their family, and their youngest child is at least five years old. Doctors recommend this method for women with health conditions whose pregnancy can risk their lives. It is also advised to women who cannot follow up with doctors regularly.
For Women with PCOS and Endometriosis:
Addressing the concerns of women with conditions like endometriosis and PCOS, Dr. Jain Mathur said that these conditions do not limit a woman’s birth control options. A short term treatment of pills can help women manage their conditions. PCOS is a condition because of hormonal imbalance and the right medications for a short duration might set their hormones into the rhythm again.
In India, many women are not aware that they can avail contraceptives. There is a lack of information amongst the general public, especially amongst females in tier-2 cities and rural areas. Often, the onus is on the doctors to counsel their patients and inform them about birth control options.
Women must begin to take control of their lives, claim their sexual freedom and make informed choices regarding their bodies. There is a basket of birth control options. There are ample resources and support groups online where one can discuss and educate themselves about birth control options. The first step in breaking the taboo surrounding sex and contraception is starting the conversation. Know your body, protect yourself and consult a medical expert.
“DocVita is a great platform for women,” added Dr. Jain Mathur. “The anonymity and distance help women consult experienced doctors more comfortably. Women are visibly more relaxed and comfortable over the screen, where we can inform the patient about their choices.”
Contraception enables women to take control of their bodies. It helps them claim their sexual freedom and empowers them to make informed choices. Before making a choice, it is essential to consult an experienced doctor, many who you can consult from the comfort of your home through DocVita. On World Contraception Day, we would like to thank Dr Astha Jain Mathur for speaking to us and helping raise awareness to empower women.