We will use the medical definition here.
These two definitions differ by about 12 days. This discrepancy is quite significant. If a particular technique allows conception but inhibits implantation, then it would be termed an abortifacient by the pro-life community and a contraceptive by everyone else. Researchers once thought that EC (a.k.a. emergency contraception, or morning-after pill) could work by inhibiting ovulation, conception, or implantation. But subsequent research shows that inhibiting implantation is extremely improbable or impossible. So EC is considered a contraceptive. However, many pro-life groups reject the findings of medical researchers and still claim that EC is an abortifacient. Some claim that EC always works as an abortifacient.
How contraceptives work:
All contraceptive techniques are barrier methods. That is, they erect a barrier of some type that prevents pregnancy.
The Roman Catholic and a very few very conservative Protestant denominations prohibit all but the time barrier methods. Only this method is considered natural and acceptable to these faith groups. Yet polls show that relatively few Catholic couples use time barrier methods. Data on birth rates among Roman Catholic couples shows that their family size does not differ significantly from those of Protestant couples. This would seem to indicate that essentially all Roman Catholics are ignoring the instructions of their church on birth control.
|No method: If no contraceptive method is used, a woman has
about 1 chance in 50 of becoming pregnant with each act of sexual
intercourse. Thus, a couple who enjoys sexual
intercourse on a weekly basis will probably find themselves pregnant within
a few months - perhaps after their first sexual contact.
|Withdrawal: This is sometimes called Coitus Interruptus: This
involves the man trying to withdraw his penis before he ejaculates.
Unfortunately this method is extremely unreliable. The man tends to be
distracted at exactly the time when he needs to have his wits about him. Also,
large numbers of sperm are present in the lubricating fluid that is
discharged from the penis before ejaculation. They can cause pregnancy even
without an ejaculation.
|Rhythm Method: The date that the woman will next release
a mature ovum is estimated on the basis of the average length of her
menstrual period, and the time of her last period. If successful, then the
technique prevents live sperm and a live ovum from being present in the fallopian tubes
simultaneously. This method has been jokingly referred to as "Vatican
Roulette" because it is quite unreliable, and because it was at one
time the only method approved by the Roman Catholic church. Any number of
factors, including stress, can introduce irregularity into the timing of the
release of the ovum, and make the method quite undependable.
|Billings Method: The woman observes her vaginal discharge on a
daily basis. There are subtle changes in texture, quantity and color which
indicate when ovulation is happening. Sexual intercourse is avoided for a
while at that time.
|Body Temperature Method: The woman measures her body temperature. There is usually a small rise in temperature after ovulation. Sexual intercourse is avoided for a while at that time.|
All essays on this web site are intended to give an general overview of various methods of contraception. Do not rely upon this information when making personal decisions. Please consult your physician or a family planning clinic for professional advice.
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