After independence, living conditions improved as the government built hospitals, educated people about health-related issues and conducted immunisation programmes. These steps nearly doubled life expectancy rate and lowered the infant and maternal mortality rate. But with the birth rate remaining more or less the same, this led to population explosion. Demographers fear that if the current birth rate of 1.7 per cent is not lowered, India’s natural and economic resources will be strained; depriving many of even basic necessities such as food, clothing and shelter.
To arrest the population growth, the government has raised the legal marriageable age of girls and boys to 18 and 21 years respectively. Government agencies are encouraging contraceptive methods. Which can be broadly categorised as natural, barrier methods, intra uterine devices, oral contraceptives injectables, implants and surgical methods.
Barrier method makes use of either a condom, diaphragm or cervical or vault cap, which act as barriers to prevent the sperm and ovum from meeting. Contraceptive efficiency of a barrier can be increased by applying spermicidal creams, jellies and foams. That’s because these products contain chemicals that kill sperm. Another contraceptive method is the use of intra-uterine device. These are used by couples who want to delay pregnancy or space out their children.
IUDs are tiny, T-shaped devices that doctors insert into the uterus through the vagina. There are many types. Apart from IUDs, women can also use oral contraceptives called the pill. This is a small tablet containing small doses of either progestogen or a combination of progestogen and estrogen.
While women have several contraceptive options men have only two options for birth control – condoms and a terminal surgical or sterilisation method called vasectomy. In this case, a tiny part of the vas deferens is removed and then tied to the scrotum by bearing a small incision on the same.
In tubectomy, a sterilisation method for women, a miniscule part of the fallopian tube is removed and tied up through a small incision in either the abdomen or through vagina. Both tubectomy and vasectomy are successful methods of birth controlbut they are irreversible and should only be adopted if a couple wishes to have no more children. In addition to surgical methods, couple today have several other contraceptive methods to choose from. However, before opting for a particular method, one should weigh its pros and cons and seek doctor’s advice as some contraceptives can cause side-effects such as abdominal pain and irregular menstrual bleeding.