The reality of birth control in India

by Dr. Pranjal on July 7, 2023 , 5 min read

One of the Sustainable Development Goals given by the UN and ratified by 193 nations, including India, is to ensure that all women have access to universal sexual and reproductive health services and reproductive rights. The availability of a wide choice of safe, effective, and cost-efficient contraceptive options is crucial to addressing women's need for contraception. 



Indian women with less social independence and more permissive attitudes toward domestic abuse had higher reliance on long-term solutions. Reversible contraceptive techniques should be made widely accessible and encouraged as part of Indian family planning policy, to place a priority on women's health.


It goes by the names contraception and anticonception. Birth control, as its name implies, prevents pregnancy by reducing unintended pregnancies. Birth control has become popular since public awareness of it began a few decades ago.


Medical professionals can also assist in educating couples about different birth control options.


What are the different methods of birth control?

Several contraceptive methods, such as oral contraceptive pills, condoms, intrauterine devices, female sterilisation, non-scalpel vasectomy, emergency contraceptive tablets, and pregnancy test kits are part of the Indian government's current family planning initiatives.



Natural rhythm 

Coitus interruptus, also known as withdrawal is known to have a high failure rate. An ovulation home test kit or a fertility monitor can help you find your most fertile days. The days when you are most fertile should be avoided for sexual activity or birth control using natural rhythm methods as you are most likely to get pregnant.


Emergency Contraceptive Pill (ECP): 

This is frequently utilised to manage an emergency resulting from an impromptu or unprotected sex act. Usually, it is ingested within 72 hours of the sexual encounter. Anyone can purchase it without a prescription from pharmacies. However, since EC does not function as well as conventional methods of birth control, you should not use it as your primary method of contraception. EC should only be used if your regular birth control fails for an unforeseen cause.


Pregnancy Testing Kits (PTKs): 

Early pregnancy detection allows the couple plenty of time to make a decision about the pregnancy. As early as one week following the missed menstrual period, pregnancy kits are effective enough to give an accurate result.


Types of birth control

There are several different types of birth control, and they work in different ways:

Spacing or barrier methods: 


These techniques are for couples who do not currently have children but may want them in the future. These techniques continue to act as a barrier, lowering the likelihood of conception. This method of birth control can take many different forms, including pills, condoms, and intrauterine contraceptives. 


Condoms, diaphragms, sponges, and cervical caps, prevent sperm from getting to the egg. It is used every time you have sex. Sperm cannot reach the egg when barrier measures like condoms, diaphragms, sponges, and cervical caps are used.


 Let us look at each of them in detail:


Male condom

A thin sheath that covers the penis to collect sperm and prevent it from entering the woman's body. Condoms that are made of latex and polyurethane can help prevent STDs.



Female condom

A thin, flexible plastic pouch. Part of the condom is inserted into the vagina before intercourse to prevent sperm from entering the uterus. The uterus, or womb, is the place where the baby grows during pregnancy. Female condoms can also help prevent STDs


Contraception sponge

A small sponge that you put into the vagina to cover the cervix (the opening of the uterus). The sponge also contains a spermicide to kill sperm.


A substance that can kill sperm cells. It comes in foam, jelly, cream, suppository, or film. You put it into the vagina near the uterus. Spermicide can be used alone or with a diaphragm or cervical cap


Diaphragm and cervical cap

Cups are placed inside the vagina to cover the cervix. They may be used with spermicide. They come in different sizes, so it's important to see your healthcare provider figure out which size works best for you


B. Hormonal methods

Oral contraceptives 

Pills that a woman takes every day. They may contain only progestin or both progestin and estrogen. In order to take these pills, one must first consult with a doctor and get a prescription. 


Contraceptive patch

A patch that a woman puts on her skin each week. The patch releases hormones into the bloodstream that essentially reduce her risk of getting pregnant.



Vaginal ring

A thin, flexible ring. The woman inserts the ring into the vagina, where it continually releases hormones for three weeks. She takes it out for the fourth week. After that week, she puts in a new ring.



An injection of a hormone that a woman gets once every three months. 


Permanent methods: 

Also known as Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptives (LARCs), any couple that doesn't want children in the future can utilize these permanent birth control options. which involves cutting or blocking the fallopian tubes in the uterus also known as female sterilization. Vas deferens, which transports sperm to the penis in males, are cut through Vasectomy. This is the male form of sterilization.



Intrauterine device (IUD)

A small, T-shaped device that a provider inserts into the uterus. This is done in the provider's office. IUDs can last from 3 to 10 years. There are two types: hormonal IUDs and copper IUDs.




Tubal ligation

It is a permanent method performed using surgery that prevents a woman from getting pregnant.



This is similar to tubal ligation except that it is for men. This surgery prevents a man from getting someone pregnant. 

What are some other forms of pregnancy prevention?

There are some types of pregnancy prevention that do not involve medicines, devices, or surgery:


Fertility awareness-based methods

They are also called natural rhythm methods. They involve tracking the woman's fertility cycle and avoiding sex or using barrier methods on the days when she is most likely to get pregnant. This method may have higher pregnancy rates than other types.


Lactational amenorrhea method (LAM) 

A form of natural birth control for breastfeeding mothers. It relies on the new mother feeding her baby only breastmilk for up to six months and having no periods or spotting during that time.



During intercourse, the penis is pulled out of the vagina before ejaculation. The goal is to keep sperm from entering the vagina. But the sperm can leak out before the penis is pulled out, so this method has higher pregnancy rates than other types


Is contraception a taboo thing?

The idea that the availability of contraceptives may result in a decline in morality, especially among men, prevents birth-control information from spreading widely. There are many misconceptions about public reproductive health and a lack of sex education in India. 



Indian women and men are discouraged from using a certain type of contraception, if at all, due to unfounded worries or misleading views. This may cause the woman to become pregnant unintentionally and suffer bodily and mental trauma.


Family planning

In 1952, India became the first nation in the world to introduce a national program for family planning. The program has changed over the years in terms of policy and actual program execution, and it is currently being repositioned to meet goals for population stabilization as well as reproductive health promotion and a decrease in maternal, newborn, and child mortality and morbidity.


Are only women responsible?


In rural areas of India, it is the women who bear the load. this stems from two major stigmas in the sexual health world. First, women can’t have sex for pleasure, and second that women always want children. Contraception in India is one of the hush-hush topics that Indian parents never talk about. 


Women are frequently advised that having sex and dealing with the consequences is their duty. This is harmful to women's physical and mental health and reproductive rights.


In India, sex is seen as a right of passage for a woman towards her husband to just bear offspring. 




Having children is so deeply tied to womanhood that it often denies women the right to choose and her right to experience pleasure as compared to how a man is supposed to enjoy sex. 


So, when a woman chooses not to have children and use contraception it is seen as unnatural and ignorant of what mother nature intended for humans. The primary responsibility of children falls on women. Thereby, many men are non-participative in the process of contraception or making sure safety during sex is practiced. 



Contraception in India is ever-growing. Both young and old people need to be educated on population control, safe sex, and why none of these are taboos. India has made progress with population and birth control. We burden women with the responsibility of contraception and unintended pregnancies. 


However, research has shown that couples who are open about conversations around contraception lead to equitable marriages, avoiding unplanned pregnancies, and better parenting. This further leads to more happy outcomes for the union and ultimately the country. 


This is why birth control is a fundamental need of the nation due to all the benefits it does bring to families and individuals.


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by Dr. Pranjal on July 7, 2023 , 5 min read

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