Birth Control Glossary

Every woman deserves access to information about birth control. This site is a resource for women who would like to learn more about the birth control options available to them.

On this website, you will find information on everything from hormonal contraceptives to barrier methods, daily pills to inserts that last twelve years, abstinence to sterilization. There are birth control options that fit every woman’s needs, so there is no reason you can’t find a birth control that is as unique as you.

Keep in mind, the best resource for information is your healthcare provider. However, it is beneficial to be knowledgeable about your options so you can ask your doctor the right questions and decide together what best fits your needs.

Birth Control News Glossary

Below is a list of words we use throughout the website. Some of them may be unfamiliar or may have definitions that have a different meaning when related to birth control. We will add to this blog as necessary, and we welcome your suggestions for words you’d like us to include.

Abstain: to restrain oneself from doing something. This is referred often in the STI Prevention blog when we recommend that you abstain from sex during treatment of certain sexually transmitted infections.

Androgenic Effects: refers to the chance of negative side effects such as weight gain, acne and female unwanted hair growth (hirsutism). These effects are mentioned often when you read about the different types of progestin used in birth control pills and how they may affect users.

Bacterial: In the sexual disease realm, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are caused by bacteria or a virus. Bacterial STIs are curable with antibiotics.

Birth Control: 1. The practice of preventing unwanted pregnancies. 2. The methods used to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

Cervix: the lower, narrow part of the uterus where it joins with the top of the vagina. Sperm must past through the cervix to get to the egg and fertilize it, which results in pregnancy. Blocking the cervix will prevent sperm from passing through and will, thus, prevent pregnancy. The cervix can be measured to determine a woman’s cycle for the fertility awareness method of birth control.

Contraception: the use of methods to prevent pregnancy as a consequence of sexual intercourse.

Contraceptive: the method or device used to prevent pregnancy.

Effectiveness: as it relates to birth control, effectiveness is the measure of a method or device’s ability to prevent pregnancy.  There are two kinds of effectiveness measured in the medical world: perfect and typical. Click here for further description of those terms.

Ejaculation: the act of semen being ejected from the penis at the moment of climax.

Estrogen: a hormone that is produced artificially for use in oral contraceptives. When produced naturally in a woman’s body, estrogen promotes the development and maintenance of female characteristics of the body.

Fertility: the ability of a woman to become pregnant and produce offspring.

Generation: hormonal birth control methods utilize estrogen and progestin. Progestin is a synthetic (man-made) hormone. The first progestin used in birth control is called First Generation. The next progestin created is referred to as Second Generation, etc. There has been some research indicating the most recent generation, the Fourth, could slightly increase users’ risk of blood clots.

Hormone: a substance produced by the body or synthetically by scientists to regulate certain functions. In the birth control realm, the hormones estrogen and progestin are combined to prevent ovulation and, in turn, prevent pregnancy.

Intercourse: sexual contact between two individuals involving penetration, typically referencing the insertion of a man’s penis into a woman’s vagina, which can result in pregnancy.

Menstruation: the monthly discharge of blood and other material from the lining of the uterus from puberty until menopause, except during pregnancy.

Progestin: A synthetic (man-made) hormone that elevate the body’s production of progesterone and prevent ovulation by mimicking the body’s conditions during pregnancy.

Selectivity (Progestational): As it applies to birth control, selectivity refers to the ability of progestin in birth control to prevent ovulation and lessen menstrual bleeding. The higher the selectivity, the more successful a progestin is thought to be.

Sterilization: the act of making a woman or man incapable of reproduction.

Viral: In the sexual disease realm, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are caused by bacteria or a virus. Viral STIs are not curable. Medical treatment can alleviate the symptoms of viral STIs.

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Birth Control News

How effective is your birth control?

For sexually active women, he effectiveness of birth control depends on how perfectly they use it. For this reason, there are two kinds of effectiveness rates. One measurement is for perfect use, as the method is tested in the lab or used in real life with no mistakes.

The other is typical use, the average including people who don’t always use the method correctly or every time sexual intercourse takes place.

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