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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 36, Number 7. 11th April 1973

All you Need to know about Contraception

page 10

All you Need to know about Contraception

The aim of contraception is to prevent unwanted babies. Any girl who has sexual intercourse for a period of 12 months without using any contraceptive has nearly a 70% chance of becoming pregnant. This is too high a risk to take for any girl or woman who does not want a baby.

Examples of contraception

Examples of contraception

There are a number of different contraceptives and methods of contraception. They vary in convenience and, above all, in effectiveness. Methods of contraception in common use are:-
Douche Effective when used with a Chemical spermicide
Chemical Spermicides
Condoms Effective when used with a Chemical spermicide.
IUD As effective as you can get without being sterilised.
Sterilisation Very effective.


The douche is a large rubber bulb which can be filled with water or solution which is squirted up the vagina through a rubber spout. The water is supposed to wash away some of the semen, thus preventing pregnancy. The effectiveness of the douche is very low. Of 100 women who rely on the douche alone for one year, 31 are likely to become pregnant.


The rhythm method is based on the fact that ordinarily only once a month does a woman produce a ripe egg which can be fertilised by the male sperm and then develop into a baby. There is a period of no more than 24 hours during which the ripe egg remains alive and can be fertilised. If the fertilisation does not take place in the 24-hour period, the egg breaks apart and disappears.

This method must also take into account the fact that the male sperm can live for about 4 days after intercourse and still be able to fertilise an egg. Therefore, there is a period of between 5 and 11 days in the middle of the menstrual cycle when women cannot have intercourse. This length of time depends on how regular the woman's periods are.

To operate this method successfully, both the man and the woman must act responsibly and a lot of checking and research must be done before they embark on love-making. The main disadvantage of this method, however, is that it is by no means 100% effective. Out of 100 women who use this method for a full year, 24 will become pregnant anyway. This is a higher failure rate than any other method except the douche.

Chemical Spermicides

There are several chemical compounds which in low concentrations can quickly immobilise sperm beyond recovery, yet do not cause irritation of the vagina, or other structures. Preparations of these compounds are placed in the vagina before intercourse and should prevent the sperm entering the cervix and fertilising the egg.

All spermicides should be used with a mechanical barrier, e.g. diaphragm, cap or condom.

There are 4 types of spermicidal contraceptives available in New Zealand:-
a)Jellies, pastes and creams in tubes.
b)Foaming tablets.
c)Soluble pessaries.
Consumer Council tests have shown that only some of these products are reliable. They are:—
a)Volpar Paste, OrthoGynol, Ortho Creme, Preceptin Gel, Delfen Cream.
b)Only one reliable brand in New Zealand — Gynomin.
c)Only one reliable brand in New Zealand — Rendells.
d)Recommended aerosols which are available in New Zealand are— Delfen Foam, Emko Vaginal, Patentex.

Do not use any products that are not recommended here. All four of the above categories are not safe unless used in conjunction with a diaphragm or condom.


One way of preventing the sperm from entering the woman, even without the use of a condom, is for the man to withdraw his penis just before he ejaculates. Withdrawal is Not an effective technique. One reason is that the slightest mistake in timing permits a certain amount of semen to be deposited in the woman before withdrawal. Even a drop is sufficient to cause pregnancy. Of every 100 couples who practise withdrawal for a full year, 18 are likely to become pregnant.


The condom (also called French letter, sheath) is probably second to the Pill as the most commonly used contraceptive in New Zealand. Condoms are made of thin rubber latex. They cover the penis to stop sperm entering the vagina. They are meant to be used only once.

All except two of the condoms available in New Zealand have been tested by the Consumer Council and have passed. Silvertex Regular and SilvertexChiffon have not been tested, though they carry the British Standards mark of approval. Those that passed the tests were:— Durex Fetherlite, Durex Gossamer, Durex Nuform, Durex protectives.

Condoms do occasionally leak or burst and it is therefore safer to use them with a spermicide.

Diaphragms, Caps

The diaphragm or cap is a mechanical barrier placed in the vagina to prevent sperm entering the womb. There are diaphragms, caps, and vault caps. They consist of a soft rubber dome with a circular metal spring enclosed in its rim. The diaphragm or cap is inserted by squeezing it sideways and sliding it along the back wall of the vagina until it rests behind the neck of the uterus. The front is pushed back behind the pelvic bone and the expanded ring keeps it in place. These devices must be fitted by a doctor as the sape and size of the women vary greatly.

The woman must act responsibly while using the diaphragm and make sure that she uses a chemical spermicide as well. Out of 100 women who rely on it for a full year, about 12 are likely to become pregnant.

All diaphragms and caps on the New Zealand market have passed the Consumer Council tests. They are:-

Durex, Lam-Butt, Ortho, Dumas Cap, Vimule Pessary.

Intrauterine Devices

Intrauterine Devices (IUDs) are inserted into the uterus (-womb) to prevent conception. They come in many shapes and materials, but today plastic is most common. They measure about one inch in diameter, but are compressible and are pushed through a small tube inserted in the cervix. Once inside, they spring back into their original shape. The process is simple and ordinarily painless. A doctor experienced in their use should insert or remove them. Once in position, they can remain for many years, or can be removed at any time that the woman wants a baby. It is not advisable to wear one if you are very young or over 45 years of age. It is of course necessary to get a doctor or a trained Family Planning person to insert the IUD.

These devices are effective but how they prevent conception is not fully understood. The IUD can be expelled without the woman's knowledge during a heavy period. It is advisable to check yourself or be checked after each period.

The great advantage of the IUD is that it is easy and cheap to get, and that once in place it requires no further attention.

Types of IUD in use at the moment are:— Lippe's Loop, Saf-T-Coil, Antigon, Szontagh, Beospir.

The Pill

The pill is probably the most effective method of contraception for young women, as it is virtually 100% effective, provided you remember to take it. There is still a great deal that is not known about the pill, how it works and how it affects women.

There are three basic types on the market:-combined, sequential, and continuous. Of these three the combined is the most effective. In the last few years, the results of a number of investigations have been published and it's now certain that there is a link between pill-taking and some types of thrombosis. If you go on through life without having children, you have to weigh the growing risk of thrombosis with your need for an utterly reliable contraceptive. The risk is not very high; about one or two in every 100,000 under 35 get thrombosis.

Some women suffer side effects of the pill, such as weight gain, nausea, vaginal discharge, depression.

There is a large list of combined pills available in New Zealand. They cost approximately $1-$1.50 a packet.

It is important that you see a doctor before going on the pill so that he can prescribe the right one for you.


The injection for women consists of synthetic progesterone and testing has shown that this injection is effective for about 6 months. In New Zealand, 3 monthly injections are being used. The obvious advantage of the injection is that you do not need to remember to take a pill or use any other method.

In some cases, side effects of this method can cause some discomfort, such as spotting (that is, spots of blood between periods). Some women may retain fluid in the body. The injection is naturally available through a doctor only.


Surgical sterilisation is virtually permanent and is only for people who are dissatisfied with other methods of contraception and are fully convinced that they will have no future desire for children.

For a man, it is a minor operation, but for a woman it's more involved. Sterilisation does not reduce desire — in the man the only difference is that the semen does not contain sperm. In women, menstruation continues but no egg passes into the fallopian tubes.

Though not illegal in New Zealand, sterilisation is not carried out as a normal procedure in general hospitals. In private hospitals, the cost ranges from $60-$ 100.

Call for Funds

The Wellington Women's Abortion Action Committe is handling the publicity which is going out for the march nationally. This has been a mammoth task, the marches in all centres having built so well. The cost of organising this march is well past $300.

Items as follows:
2 National Leaflets $200
Newsletters to date $36
Speaking Equipment $20
Other Organisational and educational material $60

We urge you to give generously to cover the cost of all our activities. Donations can be sent to Women's Abortion Action Committee, P.O. Box 2501, Wellington

For all those interested in the Women's Aortion Action Committee, there will be a meeting on Wednesday 18th Aprit and $ 1 donations will add your name to our mailing list, keeping you informed on all our activities.

Fund Raising Party

A party has been organised after the march in the Lounge and Smoking Room at 8.30pm.

Admission: $1, beer will be supplied. All welcome.

Abortion Week Activities
Wednesday: Women's Abortion
Action Committee
Meeting. 8pm Lounge.
Placard Painting and
Thursday: Guerrilla Theatre in
Lower Hutt.
Leafleting and Placard
Forum on Abortion in the Union Lounge at lunchtime.
Placard Painting and Leafleting.
Picket Lines.
March. 7.15pm at the Cenotaph to the townhall

Everyone is welcome to participate in these activities. Your help is vital in helping us show the government that the abortion laws are a gross injustice. We Need Your Help!