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Holistic Reproductive Care: From Surgical Termination to Coil Fitting
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March 5, 2024
Dr Hina

Contents table:

Reproductive care is one topic that isn’t discussed enough. It can shape a woman’s life in many ways and impact many of her future decisions. As such, in this article we will be drawing attention to the subject of holistic reproductive care, discussing what it means and the different options available. 

Let’s get started.

What Does Holistic Reproductive Care Mean?

Holistic reproductive care means prioritising sexual health and reproductive care around the needs of the individual. According to the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare, the definition encompasses:

“The basic right of all couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing and timing of their children and to have the information and means to do so, and the right to attain the highest standard of reproductive and sexual health.”

Types of Reproductive Care

Understanding the types of reproductive care available, and the best solution for you, is an important part of taking charge of your reproductive health. Everyone has different expectations, wants and needs and what works for other people may not work for you. That’s why we have taken the time to break down the types of reproductive care available. Let’s take a look.

Natural Family Planning

A fairly popular method of holistic reproductive care is called ‘Natural Family Planning’. It is a form of natural contraceptive whereby a woman monitors her reproductive signals during her menstrual cycle to understand when she is likely to get pregnant and when unprotected sex is least likely to result in a pregnancy.

According to Sexual Health Bromley, “if the instructions are properly followed, natural family planning methods can be up to 99% effective, depending on what methods are used. This means that one woman in 100 who uses natural family planning will get pregnant in one year.”

How Natural Family Planning Works

As mentioned above, natural family planning relies on the woman to identify her body’s fertility signs and symptoms and to time sexual intercourse around these symptoms. Most women achieve this by measuring their basal body temperature each day and tracking changes to their cervical mucus. Changes in either of these tend to indicate a woman is within her Fertile Window and is more likely to get pregnant, so sexual intercourse should be avoided.

Natural Family Planning is not 100% effective as a contraception option and many women choose to use condoms in addition (especially during their fertile window) to further protect themselves against pregnancy. Condoms are also important for protecting women against STIs (sexually transmitted infections). 

The Benefits of Natural Family Planning

Abstinence

Some couples choose abstinence to avoid pregnancy, although this is not very common. Abstinence is sometimes the result of faith-based decisions around intimacy or is used by couples who do not believe in contraception and want to naturally limit the number of children they have. 

Abstinence does not mean sexual acts and physical intimacy cannot be enjoyed. It just means that partners should avoid penetrative sex and other activities where sperm could/does make contact with the vagina. When followed, abstinence is 100% effective, however it is not typically a long-term solution and many couples find it difficult to maintain.

Barrier Contraceptive Methods

The purpose of barrier contraceptive methods is to prevent sperm from fertilising the egg. Many people choose to use barrier methods, such as condoms, alongside more natural methods of birth control such as Natural Family Planning.

Let’s take a look at some of the most popular barrier contraceptive methods.

Condoms

Condoms are a popular form of contraception as they protect against both pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. According to the National AIDS Trust, “a quarter (24%) of people who have had a new sexual partner within the last two years say they would only stop using a condom once they and their partner have both been tested for HIV and other STIs, the one guaranteed way of knowing the state of your and your partner’s sexual health.” 

Condoms are available for men and women. When used correctly, male condoms are 98% effective at protecting against pregnancy. The female condom (Femidom) is placed inside the vagina and is 95% effective at protecting against pregnancy. 

Diaphragms and Caps

Although generally considered to be less effective, diaphragms and caps are a barrier method of contraception. They come in a variety of different sizes and shapes and can be placed into the vagina before sexual intercourse takes place. They must remain inside for at least 6 hours post-intercourse to be effective. Typically, diaphragms and caps are about 92% effective as a method of contraception and therefore aren’t typically the most popular choice.

Hormonal Reproductive Care Methods

Many women choose to go down the hormonal route as it is often more convenient and can support the management of hormonal-related problems such as acne, unexplained weight gain, menstrual problems, and even depression. Let’s take a look at the hormonal methods of contraception. 

Birth Control Pills

The birth control pill contains one or both of the following hormones: oestrogen and progestin. When used correctly, the birth control pill is 99% effective at protecting against pregnancy. However, forgetting to take the pill, having a sickness such as diarrhoea or vomiting, or taking other medications at the same time can all affect how well the birth control pill works.

Some women may experience side effects on the pill such as breast tenderness, menstrual changes, mood swings, and more. If this is an avenue you’d like to explore, it is important to discuss the side effects with your doctor and ask whether the pill would be a suitable contraceptive option for you.

Contraceptive Patches

According to the NHS, “The contraceptive patch is a small sticky patch that releases hormones into your body through your skin to prevent pregnancy […] When used correctly, the patch is more than 99% effective at preventing pregnancy.”

The contraceptive patch is typically worn for a period of 21 days and then removed for one week before it can be worn again. Some women may experience symptoms such as skin irritation, mood and menstrual changes, headaches, weight gain, and gastrointestinal problems. Therefore, it is important to speak with your doctor about the contraceptive patch and discuss whether it might be suitable for you. 

Contraceptive Injection

The contraceptive injection can be given every 3 months to help protect against pregnancy. Many women like this form of birth control as it uses a hormone called progestin to prevent pregnancy. Also, the contraceptive injection is 99% effective when used correctly and is safe, convenient and does not require the use of oestrogen.

The Coil

The coil is a T-shaped copper device that is inserted into the uterus to prevent pregnancy. It is over 99% effective and is a long-term contraceptive option that typically only needs replacing every 5-10 years. The coil is an effective form of contraception as soon as it is inserted and a woman can start trying to conceive immediately after the coil has been removed. 

There are two coil types: 

The Hormonal Coil: this coil releases the hormone progestin into the body as a prevention method against pregnancy. It is effective for up to 7 years and is a popular form of contraception for many women. 

The Copper Coil: instead of releasing hormones into the body, the copper coil releases small amounts of copper. This copper is released directly into the woman’s womb and acts as a preventative measure against pregnancy by altering the cervical mucus and making it impossible for sperm to reach and fertilise the egg. Many women prefer this coil as it negates the need for hormones and therefore side effects are unlikely.

Pregnancy Termination

For some women, unwanted pregnancies do occur. This can be due to a number of reasons such as, unprotected sex, protected sex that was not effective, and sadly sexual assault and rape. For women in situations such as these, pregnancy termination is something they should be free to explore. 

There are two types of pregnancy termination:

Surgical Abortion: this is a simple operation performed on women up to 24 weeks pregnant. The pregnancy is removed vaginally using forceps or vacuum suction. 

Medical Abortion: a medical abortion is suitable for women who are 10 weeks pregnant or less and involves taking one oral and one vaginal pill up to 24 hours apart to cause a miscarriage.

Pregnancy termination is a difficult topic for many women and an even more difficult choice to make. Read more about pregnancy termination to learn about the options available to you.

Final Words

As you can see, reproductive care covers many aspects of a woman’s life and general well-being. We hope this article has shed some light on the different options available so that you can have an open conversation with your partner about the best route to take. For more informative articles like this one, check out our blog

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