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How do contraceptives work? - NWHunter


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Contraceptives are designed to prevent pregnancy in three basic ways: they either block sperm, disable sperm before they reach the uterus, or suppress ovulation. But is one strategy better than the other? And how does each one work? NWHunter describes the mechanics behind different kinds of contraceptives.

Additional Resources for you to Explore

Throughout history, men and women have looked for ways to have more control over whether their physical unions produced another human being. Even in ancient times many techniques were used in an attempt to prevent pregnancy such as the use of alligator dung and honey. A brief video highlighting ancient methods can be found here.

You can also read an interesting review of the book Devices and Desires: A History of Contraceptives in America. This chronicles both the types of contraceptives used throughout history as well as the prevailing laws and attitudes toward their use at during those times.

Religious beliefs throughout the world influence the use, availability and acceptance of contraceptives methods. Whether or not to use a contraceptive can be a divisive matter in religion and in personal relationships. Take a look at this ethics guide to contraception to find out more.

There has also been much discussion involving contraception and women, which is not considered a right in many areas of the world. In 1916 Margaret Sanger, eventual founder of Planned Parenthood, was jailed under the Federal Comstock Laws for distributing pamphlets that informed women about birth control.

Debate continues to this day regarding whether employee’s medical benefits for contraception should be covered by the employer, a question which has been the subject of judicial debate as high as the United States Supreme Court. Read more about it here

No birth control method is perfect, and there are varying degrees of effectiveness for each method. This link clarifies effectiveness for both perfect and practical use of many common methods of birth control. "Effectiveness figures are based on 100 couples using the method for a year and show the percentage of women who do not get pregnant while using the method for 1 year."

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TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator NWHunter
  • Script Editor Eleanor Nelsen
  • Director Draško Ivezić
  • Designer Draško Ivezić
  • Sound Designer Jure Buljević
  • Narrator Julianna Zarzycki

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