Birth control, also known as contraception and fertility control, are methods or devices used to prevent pregnancy. Planning, provision and use of birth control is called family planning. Safe sex, such as the use of male or female condoms, can also help prevent sexually transmitted infections. Birth control methods have been used since ancient times, but effective and safe methods only became available in the 20th century. Some cultures deliberately limit access to birth control because they consider it to be morally or politically undesirable.
The most effective methods of birth control are sterilization by means of vasectomy in males (99.85% success rate) and tubal ligation in females (99.5% success rate), intrauterine devices (IUDs) and implantable contraceptives. This is followed by a number of hormonal contraceptives including oral pills, patches, vaginal rings, and injections. Less effective methods include barriers such as condoms, diaphragms and contraceptive sponge and fertility awareness methods. The least effective methods are spermicides and withdrawal by the male before ejaculation. Sterilization, while highly effective, is not usually reversible; all other methods are reversible, most immediately upon stopping them. Emergency contraceptives can prevent pregnancy in the few days after unprotected sex. Some regard sexual abstinence as birth control, but abstinence-only sex education may increase teen pregnancies when offered without contraceptive education.
Menstrual cycle is the cycle of changes that occurs in the uterus and ovary for the purpose of sexual reproduction. It is essential for the production of eggs and for the preparation of the uterus for pregnancy. The menstrual cycle occurs only in fertile female humans and other female primates.
In humans, the length of a menstrual cycle varies greatly among women (ranging from 25 to 35 days), with 28 days designated as the average length. Each cycle can be divided into three phases based on events in the ovary (ovarian cycle) or in the uterus (uterine cycle). The ovarian cycle consists of the follicular phase, ovulation, and luteal phase whereas the uterine cycle is divided into menstruation, proliferative phase, and secretory phase. Both cycles are controlled by the endocrine system and the normal hormonal changes that occur can be interfered with using hormonal contraception to prevent reproduction.
Human reproduction is any form of sexual reproduction resulting in the conception of a child, typically involving sexual intercourse between a man and a woman. During sexual intercourse, the interaction between the male and female reproductive systems results in fertilization of the woman's ovum by the man's sperm, which after a gestation period is followed by childbirth. The fertilization of the ovum may nowadays be achieved by artificial insemination methods, which do not involve sexual intercourse.