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Menstruation and Menopause
The menstrual cycle is the process by which a woman's body gets ready for the chance of a pregnancy each month. The average menstrual cycle is 28 days from the start of one to the start of the next, but it can range from 21 days to 35 days.
Most menstrual periods last from three to five days. In the United States, most girls start menstruating at age 12, but girls can start menstruating between the ages of 8 and 16.
Pregnancy and preconception care
Pregnancy is the term used to describe when a woman has a growing fetus inside of her. In most cases, the fetus grows in the uterus.
What are prenatal and preconception care and why are they important?
Both preconception care and prenatal care help to promote the best health outcomes for mother and baby.
Fertility and Infertility
In women, the term is used to describe those who are of normal childbearing age, not those who can't get pregnant because they are near or past menopause. Women who are able to get pregnant but who cannot carry a pregnancy to term (birth) may also be considered infertile.
Infertility is a complex problem – it does not have a single cause because getting pregnant is a multi-step chain of events. The cause of infertility can rest in the women or the man, or can be from unknown factors or a combination of factors.
- Barrier methods, such as condoms, the
the cervical cap, are designed to prevent the sperm from reaching the egg for
- Intrauterine device, or IUD, is a small device that is inserted into the
uterus by a health care provider. The IUD prevents a fertilized egg from
implanting in the uterus. An IUD can stay in the uterus for up to 10 years until
it is removed by a health care provider.
- Hormonal birth control, such as
birth control pills, injections, skin
patches, and vaginal rings, release hormones into a woman's body that interfere
with fertility by preventing
ovulation, fertilization, or
- Sterilization is a method that permanently prevents a woman from getting pregnant or a man from being able to get a woman pregnant. Sterilization involves surgical procedures that must be done by a health care provider and usually cannot be reversed.
The choice of birth control depends on factors such as a person's overall health, age, frequency of sexual activity, number of sexual partners, desire to have children in the future, and family history of certain diseases. A woman should talk to her health care provider about her choice of birth control method.
Sexually transmitted diseases and AIDS/HIV
SOURCE: National Institute of Child and Health and Human Development; "Reproductive Health."
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Barrier Methods of Birth Control Side Effects, Advantages, and Disadvantages
Many barrier methods of birth control are available for a man or woman, for example, the sponge, female and male condoms, diaphram, spermicides, male condoms, female condoms, contraceptive sponge, diaphragm, and cervical cap. Side effects, and efficacy (in preventing pregnancy) depends on the type of birth control used.
Hormonal Methods of Birth ControlThere are several different hormonal methods of birth control. The hormones can be estrogen and/or progesterone. The hormones can be taken by mouth, implanted into body tissue, absorbed from a patch on the skin, injected under the skin, or placed in the vagina. Common types of hormonal birth control include: "The Pill" (oral contraceptives), injection (Depo-Provera, Lunelle), the patch (Ortho-Evra), and the vaginal ring (Nuvaring).
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infection left untreated causes AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). Still incurable, AIDS describes immune system collapse that opens the way for opportunistic infections and cancers to kill the patient.
- Early symptoms and signs of HIV infection include flu-like symptoms and fungal infections, but some people may not show any symptoms for years.
- Highly active antiretroviral therapy (ART) is the standard treatment for HIV infection. These combination drug regimens have made HIV much less deadly, but a cure or vaccine for the pandemic remains out of reach.
- HIV is usually transmitted through sexual contact or sharing IV drug needles, but can also infect someone through contact with infected blood.
- Sexual abstinence, safe sex practices, quitting IV drugs (or at least using clean needles), and proper safety equipment by clinicians and first responders can drastically reduce transmission rates for HIV/AIDS.
Infertility QuizWhat is the medical definition of infertility? Take the Infertility Quiz to learn the risks and treatment of infertility. Our answers may surprise you!
Infertility TreatmentLearn about infertility symptoms and types of treatment such as IVF, acupuncture, and natural methods to get pregnant. Read about infertility in men and women as well as treatment costs and success rates.
IUD (Intrauterine Device for Birth Control)
An IUD (intrauterine device) is a birth control method designed for a woman. The IUD is a small "T" made of molded polyethylene plastic coated with barium so that, if need be, it can be seen on X-ray.
There are two types of IUDs 1) Intrauterine contraceptive device (IUCD) including the ParaGard, Copper 7, and Mini-7; and 2) Intrauterine system (IUS) including Progestasert and Mirena.
Side effects of the IUD include spotting, infection, infertility, pelvic inflammatory disease, and heavy menstrual bleeding. Risks and complications of the IUD are miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, pelvic inflammatory disease, and increased menstrual bleeding.
MenopauseMenopause is the time in a woman's life when menstrual periods permanently stop, also called the "change of life." Menopause symptoms include hot flashes, night sweats, irregular vaginal bleeding, vaginal dryness, painful intercourse, urinary incontinence, weight gain, and emotional symptoms such as mood swings. Treatment of menopausal symptoms varies, and should be discussed with your physician.
Pregnancy: Multiple Births, Twins, Triplets, and MoreMultiple births occur when a woman bears twins, triplets, or even more babies during pregnancy. More multiples are born today thanks to assisted reproductive technology (ART), including in vitro fertilization using fertility drugs. Women carrying multiples often give birth via C-section.
Pregnancy and Drugs (Prescription and OTC)
Taking prescription medications or over-the-counter drugs or supplements should be discussed with your doctor. There are some medications that have been found to cause no problems in pregnancy, however, medications such as Accutane for acne, should never be taken during pregnancy.
Preeclampsia (Pregnancy Induced Hypertension)Preeclampsia is related to increased blood pressure and protein in the mother's urine. Preeclampsia typically begins after the 20th week of pregnancy. When preeclampsia causes seizures, it is termed "eclampsia" and is the second leading cause of maternal death of in the US. Preeclampsia is the leading cause of fetal complications. Risk factors for preeclampsia include high blood pressure, obesity, multiple births, and women with preexisting medical conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or scleroderma. Pregnancy planning and lifestyle changes may reduce the risk of preeclampsia during pregnancy.
Pregnancy Planning (Tips)
Pregnancy planning is an important step in preparation for starting or expanding a family. Planning for a pregnancy includes taking prenatal vitamins, eating healthy for you and your baby, disease prevention (for both parents and baby) to prevent birth defects and infections, avoiding certain medications that may be harmful to your baby, how much weight gain is healthy exercise safety and pregnancy, travel during pregnancy.
Sex-Drive KillersNoticing a lack of intimacy with your partner? Here we explore how stress, lack of sleep, weight gain, depression and low T can cause low sex drive in men and women.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases in Women (STDs)Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are among the most common infectious diseases in the United States. STDs can be spread through any type of sexual activity involving the sex organs, the anus or mouth, or through contact with blood during sexual activity. Examples of STDs include, chancroid, chlamydia, gonorrhea, granuloma inguinale, lymphogranuloma venereum, syphilis, genital herpes, genital warts, trichomoniasis, pubic lice (crabs), and scabies. Treatment is generally with antibiotics; however, some STDs that go untreated can lead to death.
Birth Control: Surgical SterilizationSurgical sterilization is considered a permanent method of contraception. In certain cases, sterilization can be reversed, but this is not guaranteed. For this reason, sterilization is meant for men and women who do not intend to have children in the future. Types of surgical sterilization include: vasectomy, tubal ligation, STOP (selective tubal occlusion procedure), and hysterectomy.