The right to choose


This article is about contraception, or family planning. It is about all the different kinds of contraception, for both men and women.


We know that many people feel shy to talk about contraception. They feel that it is a very private thing. We also know that many people don’t trust any talk about family planning. Many of these people don’t trust the government and its family planning clinics.


We are writing this article because we believe that people must have the right to choose if they want to use contraception. And we believe that if people decide to use contraception, they must also have the right to choose what kind of contraception to use. People can only choose if they know about the different kinds of contraception, how they work, and why some kinds of contraception are good and other kinds of contraception are bad.


A WOMEN’S PROBLEM?


Many men believe that it is the womens’ job to worry about contraception. The women must worry about not getting pregnant. Many men are completely against contraception. They think it is good for their manliness to have as many children as their wives can make. Some women use contraception without their husbands knowing.


DECIDING TOGETHER


Men and women make babies together. So men must also help to decide about contraception. Men and women must decide together if they are going to use contraception or not. Men and women must share these big decisions. And if people decide that they want to use contraception, then the man and the woman must decide together what kind of contraception they want to use.


CONTRACEPTION AND TEENAGERS


Many young girls fall pregnant while they are at school. This can spoil their lives. Often they fall pregnant because they do not know about contraception. They are frightened to tell their parents that they are having sex with boys. They are frightened to go to the clinic. Some clinics want parents’ permission before they will give contraception to teenagers.


Parents must try not to get angry when they know that their children are having sex — being angry does not help. But talking helps. So try to talk to your children about sex and contraception.


CHOOSING CONTRACEPTION


Often nurses and doctors choose for us. They do not tell people about different kinds of contraception. Here is a list of different kinds of contraception. So, if you want to use contraception, you can know about all the different types — and you can choose which one to use.


If you want to know more about contraception, then ask at your family planning clinic. But be sure that before you start using contraception, you know what it does and how it works. Before you start using contraception, you must decide who is going to use contraception — the man or the woman.


CONTRACEPTION FOR MEN


THE CONDOM


A condom is a rubber bag that fits over a man’s penis. It stops the sperm from going inside the woman. The man must put the condom on before he puts his penis inside the woman. He must hold the condom when he pulls out so that it does not come off. inside the woman. Sometimes condoms can have holes in them. If you use condoms, be sure that you do not use old ones.


THE GOOD SIDE: You can buy condoms anywhere and they are cheap. You can also get them free from family planning clinics. Condoms also stop V.D. or ‘vuilsiek’ from spreading.


THE BAD SIDE: Some men say that they do not enjoy sex when they use condoms. You also must stop love making so that you can put it on. The man must be very careful that the condom does not come off while he is still inside the woman. Sometimes condoms can have holes in them. If you use condoms, be sure that you do not use old ones.


VASECTOMY — A SMALL OPERATION


The vasectomy is a small operation. If you have this operation, you will never make children again. The doctor make two cuts just above the man’s balls. The doctor cuts and ties the man’s sperm tubes so no sperm can go into the woman during sex. Men often worry that a vasectomy will change their lives. But men who have had a vasectomy say they still enjoy sex like before. They still “skiet out” but there is no sperm in it.

After the vasectomy operation, your body keeps sperm up to three months. So you must use other contraception until the doctor tells you that you have no more sperm.


THE GOOD SIDE: After the operation, men never have to worry about making a woman pregnant again.


THE BAD SIDE: Sometimes there is a small bump where the cut was made. The bump often goes away by itself. The sperm tubes in one out of every thousand men grow back together again and once again the sperm can get out.


CONTRACEPTION FOR WOMEN


THE RHYTHM METHOD


The rhythm method is when women count the days between periods. They will only have sex when they know they cannot fall pregnant. You must count the first day of your period as Day One. You count the days until your next period. For most women it is twenty eight days. You must count your days for a few months because sometimes your period can take longer to come. The best way to count is by marking your period on a calendar like this.


Once you know how many days there are between the first day you start bleeding and your next period, you can work out when your egg is made. It is made fourteen days before you start to bleed. A woman’s egg lives for three days and men’s sperm lives for five days.


So doctors say it is best not to have sex for five days before you make your egg and five days afterwards. If you do want to have sex during this time, then you must use some other kind of contraception, like a condom.


Roman Catholics use contraception called the Billings method. Women look at the water that comes out of their vaginas. They can tell from this water when they are making an egg. If you want to use the Billings method, speak to the women at the Catholic Church.


THE GOOD SIDE: Any woman can use this way of contraception. It does not hurt women’s bodies at all.


THE BAD SIDE: It is difficult to be sure exactly when your body makes an egg. If you make a mistake, you will fall pregnant. If you do not have regular periods then you cannot use this method. You also have to be good about not having sex when you can fall pregnant. Women often fall pregnant when using this method.


CREAMS, JELLIES AND FOAMS


Spermicides are creams, jellies or foams that kill sperm. You can buy them at any chemist. They kill the man’s sperm that come into your womb. The creams and jellies come with something to help you get them into your vagina. You must put it in just before you have sex.


THE GOOD SIDE: You can buy spermicides at any chemist. So anyone can use them. But they are a bit expensive.


THE BAD SIDE: Spermicides are not made to be used alone. You should use them with other contraception, like the condom or the diaphragm. If you only use spermicides, you can fall pregnant.


THE DIAPHRAGM


The diaphragm is a small rubber cap that women put in their vaginas. It stops the sperm from going into the womb and joining the egg. You must put the diaphragm inside you every time you have sex. You put it in beforesex. You must keep it inside you for about eight hours after sex. When you take your diaphragm out wash it carefully with soap. You must use the diaphragm with spermicide – a jelly that kills sperm.


THE GOOD SIDE: The diaphragm does not change women’s bodies at all. It stops pregnancy in 98 out of 100 women.


THE BAD SIDE: If you do not use the diaphragm every time you have sex, you will fall pregnant. Some women do not like the diaphragm because you must stop love making to put it in.


Family planning clinics do not always have diaphragms as they are very expensive — they cost more than R30. You must get the right size for you as all women have different size vaginas. You must check your diaphragm for holes. You do this by holding the diaphragm to a light. Diaphragms last for about three years.


THE PILL


Women can take a little pill everyday to stop them getting pregnant. The chemicals in the pill stop your body from making an egg. There are different types of pills. They have different amounts of the chemicals in them. Some pills are not good for some women. We cannot tell you what kind of pill you must take. But we can tell you that women who have high blood pressure, blood clotting problems or heart problems must not take the pill at all.


When you get the pill, you must ask the doctor or nurse what kind of pill it is and if it will change your body. If you are taking the pill, and you do not feel good, then you must go and tell the clinic about your problems. Maybe they can find a pill that is better for your body.


THE GOOD SIDE: The pill is easy to get at clinics. If you get them from a family planning clinic, you do not have to pay or you only pay a little. Very few women who take the pill get pregnant.


THE BAD SIDE: Sometimes the pill is not good for your body. Some women get headaches and feel sick, especially when they first start to take the pill. Because the pill changes the chemicals in your body, your periods can change. Some women also get fat when they take the pill. If you forget to take a pill, you can fall pregnant. Pills will only work for you if you remember to take them everyday.


THE INJECTION


The injection is given to women every two or three months. Injections work like the pill – the chemicals in the injection stop your body from making an egg. Women who have high blood pressure, blood clotting problems or heart problems must not use the injection.


THE GOOD SIDE: You do not have to worry about taking the pills or any other kind of contraception. The injection is easy to get at any family planning clinic.


THE BAD SIDE: Some women do not have periods when they use the injection. Other women bleed a lot. If you feel bad from the injection, you cannot stop it — the chemicals are inside you for three months. There is another big problem with the injection. Sometimes doctors give it to women without telling them what the injection does. They do not worry about what the women want. In some factories bosses did not want to lose women workers who got pregnant. So the women were given the injection.


Remember that it is your right to choose. Do not let anyone give you the injection unless you think it is the best contraception for you.


THE LOOP


The loop is a small piece of plastic. Sometimes it has copper on it. You must go to a clinic if you want a loop. The loop is put right inside the woman’s womb. No-one really knows how the loop works. Some people say the loop stops the egg from sticking onto the womb. Other people say your womb makes chemicals that kill the sperm if you have a loop.


THE GOOD SIDE: Once you have the loop in you, you do not have to worry about contraception at all. You can have a loop put in at any family planning clinic.


THE BAD SIDE: Sometimes the loop makes women have very bad periods. So doctors do not like to give loops to women who bleed a lot during their periods. They do not like to give it to women who have bad pain with their periods. They also do not like to give the loop to women who have not had children. They say their wombs are small and the loop can cause pain.


The big problem with the loop is that women get infections in their wombs easily. The loop has strings that hang down into the vagina. The strings make it easy for germs to get into the womb. Bad infection can stop women from having babies again. Doctors say that the loop is better for women who only have one lover. If you have a loop, and you get an infection, then you must go to your clinic straight away.


TYING YOUR TUBES


Tying your tubes is an operation. If you have your tubes tied, you will never be able to have children again. You cannot undo this operation. The doctor ties and cuts the tubes that take the eggs into the womb. They can also put clips on the tubes. This means that the egg can never get to the womb. The egg can never join the sperm and make a baby. Women still have periods if their tubes are tied.


THE GOOD SIDE: You will never have to worry about getting pregnant. Tying your tubes does not make your body feel different.


THE BAD SIDE: Having your tubes tied is a big operation. You will feel sick and weak for about a week. With a few women the tubes grow together again. Then you can fall pregnant again. Sometimes people think that having your tubes tied is the same as a hysterectomy.


A hysterectomy is an operation that women have if there is something wrong with their wombs. The doctors then cut the womb out. The woman can never have children again. But doctors only do a hysterectomy if there are big problems.


CONTRACEPTION THAT DOES NOT WORK


Some women think that if they wash themselves after they have sex, then they will not fall pregnant. This is not true. Sperm swim up into the womb quickly. They can get to the womb before the woman washes.


If you really do not want to get pregnant, then speak to someone at the family planning clinic.

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