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Controlling Human Reproduction.

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Controlling Human Reproduction

In today’s modern society there are various methods of controlling human reproduction. A few of which are contraception, IVF and the use of hormones.

“Contraception is the deliberate prevention of pregnancy by artificial or natural means” (1). These means are known as contraceptives and widely available to both men and women.

The World Health Organisation compiled a report on trends in reproduction, globally, which revealed that “the use of contraceptives across the developing world has risen tenfold over the past 25 years” (2).

There are many different types of contraceptives, some of which are barrier methods, oral contraceptives, implants, injections, emergency contraception, natural family planning and sterilisation (a permanent method of contraception).

Barrier methods of contraception include male and female condoms and diaphragms or caps, these methods stop sperm from meeting an egg (hence the name barrier methods).

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Oral contraceptives include the combined pill (‘the pill’), the progesterone–only pill (POP) and the male pill. ‘The pill’ contains the hormones oestrogen and progesterone, unlike the POP, which only contains one hormone, progesterone, and both types, can be 99% effective if used correctly. The pills work in a similar way that they stop the ovaries releasing an egg, they cause the mucus of the cervix to thicken this prevents sperm from reaching the egg and they prevent the egg settling in the womb. Both pills have their advantages, one of which is that they can help with pre–menstrual tension and period pain, however they have their disadvantages too; using them can lead to temporary side–effects including acne, headaches, weight gain and tender breasts.

Contraceptive implants and injections both release progesterone and they work in a similar way to that of ‘the pill’ and POP and can be 99% effective.

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“Vasectomy, or male sterilisation, introduced in Britain in the Sixties, is fast becoming a popular contraceptive option” (4). Vasectomy involves the cutting of the tubes from the testicles to the penis. In female sterilisation the tubes from the ovary to the womb are either blocked, cut or sealed. Sterilisation is over 99% effective and, although fertility can return if the tubes rejoin, it is permanent.

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