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Any mechanical device or chemical agent used to prevent conception.



one of various mechanical, biological, chemical, and surgical agents and methods used to prevent pregnancy and one of the most common forms of contraception.

Mechanical contraceptives principally prevent spermatozoa from penetrating into the uterus; they include female contraceptive devices that are inserted into the cervix and uterine cavity and male condoms. Chemical contraceptives act on spermatozoa that have entered the vagina by immobilizing them and depriving them of their fertilizing capacity. Some scientists regard synthetic preparations that have a general resorptive effect on the body to be chemical contraceptives. It is more accurate, however, to regard them as biological contraceptives. Agents of chemical contraception used locally include globules, suppositories, pastes, creams, tablets, and foams. They contain acids, quinine, and tannin and a contraceptive base. Combination contraceptives unite both chemical methods that are used locally and mechanical methods; they include chemical (melting) caps, sponges, tampons saturated with spermicides, and douches that spray the vagina with spermicides. Biological contraceptives act on various parts of the reproductive process, for example, on the movement of sex cells through the reproductive system, on fertilization, and on the implantation of a fertilized ovum in the uterus. Biological contraceptives include highly active synthetic hormonal preparations for oral administration and certain biologically active nonhormonal agents, such as antihyaluronidases and antihistamines. The effectiveness of biologically active nonhormonal agents has not yet been sufficiently proved.

Oral and intrauterine contraceptives are widespread. Oral contraceptives have various mechanisms of action. The majority of highly active synthetic hormonal preparations must be taken daily for 21 days starting on the fifth day of the menstrual cycle in order to be almost 100 percent effective. Oral contraceptives have been developed that are effective when taken after presumed fertilization. In many women these contraceptives may produce bloody discharge, vomiting, and nausea. These reactions, however, are usually temporary and do not necessitate discontinuing the preparations. Oral contraceptives must be used only under a physician’s supervision. It is not recommended that they be used for more than six months consecutively because of possible complications.

Intrauterine contraceptives come in various sizes and shapes, for instance, rings, loops, and spirals. They are made of various materials, such as stainless steel and polymers. Insertion is into the uterine cavity, where the contraceptive is left as long as one year. The mechanism of intrauterine contraceptives is not sufficiently clear. Menstrual cycle irregularities, pain, and inflammatory diseases sometimes occur with their use.

Prolonged use of any contraceptive is detrimental to health, and it is necessary to change the contraceptive periodically.


References in periodicals archive ?
The right of women to receive prescribed contraceptives or an immediate informed referral from all pharmacies.
Further research is needed to broaden the evidence supporting the use of this new model for contraceptive acceptability.
So although randomized, controlled trials report no significant weight gain, we do agree with these observational studies that show that overweight and obese teens gain more weight with Depo-Provera than with oral contraceptives or with no contraceptives," she said.
The survey collected monthly data on contraceptive use and pregnancy outcomes during the five years preceding the survey, as well as data on women's socioeconomic and demographic characteristics.
Also, researchers didn't track whether people usin8 hormonal contraceptives had sex more often, which could lead to increased HIV exposure.
Overall, with the exception of the levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine device (LNG-IUD, Mirena)--for which on-site availability was reported by 56% of office-based physicians and 47% of Title X clinic providers--office-based physicians were less likely than were Title X clinics to report on-site availability of a range of contraceptive methods.
A prospective study of the effects of oral contraceptives on sexuality and well-being and their relationship to discontinuation, Contraception, 2001, 64(1):51-58.
These are followed by other hormonal methods, such as oral contraceptives, the transdermal patch and the vaginal ring.
Valproate showed the greatest seizure exacerbation when used in conjunction with hormonal contraceptives.
Does an expansion in private sector contraceptive supply increase inequality in modem contraceptive use?
While research has previously pointed to a link between oral contraceptive use and lowered risk for ovarian cancer, a recent study found the risk remains lower even years after women stop taking the pill.
This, in turn, can assist women who do not wish to become pregnant in making contraceptive choices that best meet their needs.