There are many forms of artificial contraception. I am going to discuss some of those forms and the Church’s opinion. Condoms, or rubbers, are shaped like a balloon and are made of a special kind of rubber. Condoms prevent sperm from reaching the cervix. They are placed over the male’s erect penis before intercourse. They are 80-90% effective. No prescription is needed to use them. They protect against STD’s. They are more protective in preventing AIDS, then preventing pregnancy. They are not fully effective because they can break, have defects, be slippery, or it can be too old.
Spermicides such as: creams, foams, vaginal supporsitones, and vaginal film form a chemical barrier that kills or makes the sperm inactive, which makes it impossible to become pregnant. They are 80% effective. It is available without a prescription and provides some STD protection. Effectiveness is increased if used with condoms. Vasectomies are common for men. The tube that carries the sperm is cut and tied which prevents sperm from being ejaculated. It is 99% effective This procedure is permanent and is done through a small incision near the testicles. It does not affect sexual arousal.
A cervical cap is a soft rubber dome that forms a barrier to prevent sperm from reaching the cervix. The spermicidal gel kills the sperm. It is 85% effective. It may give some protection against chlamydia and gonorrhea. The diaphragm does the same thing as a cervical cap and is 85% effective. It is a flat rubber-like disk which has to be fitted from a doctor. It is placed inside the woman’s vagina before having intercourse. It is often used with cream or jelly that is placed around the edge of the diaphragm. There is a very high failure rate because sometimes they are not fitted or inserted correctly. They create fewer health risks for women. It may reduce the risk of cervical cancer and provides some STD protection.
There are also injections for men and women. In men, a drug is injected into the sperm duct to disable the sperm for a period of time. Depo-Provera injections that contain the hormone, progesterone is injected and it prevents the release of an egg from the ovary. It is 99% effective. It is long lasting and highly effective. It also protects against uterine cancer. But it does not protect against STD’s. Female condoms are 75-85% effective but 95% effective if used correctly. The container end of the female condom is placed inside the vagina before intercourse.
The Contraceptive Sponge is what a woman inserts inside her vagina over the cervix. The sponge is 85% effective. Since it can be inserted incorrectly it is not that effective. It releases a protective spermicidal gel. The sponge forms a barrier to sperm reaching the cervix. The only one available is Protectaid. It may protect against STD’s. Intrauterine devices a metal objects placed inside the woman’s uterus that prevents the fertilized ovum from being implanted into the uterine wall. Intrauterine Devices(IUD’s) are 97-99% effective. It does not prevent contraception. It is an abortificaent rather than a contraceptive. It must be inserted by a doctor. Two types are available: progesterone and Copper-T. It does not protect against STD’s. They are very painful and doctors do not always do them because they have serious side effects like, hemorrhaging.
Contraceptive Pills that are taken daily imitate the woman’s daily body cycle. It has been among the most effective forms of artificial means of birth control. It may have some harmful side effects like; blood clots, sterility, and strokes. The Birth Control Pill is 99% effective. Man made hormones, estrogen and progesterone mimic the ones your body naturally produces, which makes progesterone cause the uterus lining to change and estrogen prevents the egg from maturing and being released. It does not protect against STD’s. It may reduce the risk of ovarian and uterine cancer.
Female sterilization is 99% effective. It is commonly called “tying the tubes.” It blocks the tube which carries the egg to the uterus by cutting or tying it, which prevents the man’s sperm from fertilizing the egg. It is surgically permanent. In some cases though it has been reversed. The “Morning After Pill” is taken seventy two hours after unprotected intercourse. It is usually used in situations of rape or incest. It is 90-95% effective and it can reduce the risk of pregnancy. It can only be used for emergencies and must be prescribed by a doctor.
There are also Contraceptive Implants. They are small rods the size of wooden match sticks that are inserted under the skin, usually the upper arm. They contain time released capsules which prevent contraception for several years by p-preventing ovulation. They may actually work as a abortifacient rather than a contraceptive. Because this is a more recent type of contraceptive little is known about their side effects.
Withdrawal is another means of artificial contraception. It attempts to prevent contraception by having the man withdraw his penis before he ejaculates his semen into the woman’s vagina. This has a very high failure rate because ejaculating is uncontrollable and a man can not prevent it from happening. A few drops of semen contain enough sperm cells to populate a town. They can move on their own through the vagina and into the uterus to fertilize an ovum. Catholic teaching intentionally imposes this because the main purpose of sexual intercourse is remaining open to children and procreating, which in this matter is being prevented.
The Catholic teaching states that artificial means if birth regulation are barriers to procreation, to life. They are artificial invasions of their bodies which are inconvenient, disruptive, awkward, uncomfortable, and unhealthy.
Bovo, M.J. Birth Control. Online at Birth Control. Com. 1997
McCarty, Michele. Loving: A Catholic Perspective on Vocational Lifestyle Choices.
Brown-Roa; Dubuque, Iowa. 1993.
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