Female Pelvis Showing Contraceptive Ring within Vagina: Three-dimensional visualization reconstructed from scanned human data. Anterior view of female pelvis and reproductive organs, showing proper placement of a contraceptive ring within the vagina. A contraceptive ring is a female hormonal contraceptive device that is inserted into the vagina; it releases hormones that stop the ovary from releasing an egg, so that pregnancy does not occur. It also causes the cervical mucous to thicken, making it more difficult for sperm to enter the uterus, and changes the lining of the uterus, preventing implantation of a fertilized egg. The contraceptive ring is only available with a prescription. When used correctly, it has a failure rate of 1 - 2%. It offers no protection against STDs.
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. Birth control methods have been used since ancient times, but effective and safe methods only became available in the 20th century. Some cultures limit or discourage access to birth control because they consider it to be morally, religiously, or politically undesirable.
The most effective methods of birth control are sterilization by means of vasectomy in males and tubal ligation in females, 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. Safe sex, such as the use of male or female condoms, can also help prevent sexually transmitted infections. 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.
In teenagers, pregnancies are at greater risk of poor outcomes. Comprehensive sex education and access to birth control decreases the rate of unwanted pregnancies in this age group. While all forms of birth control may be used by young people, long-acting reversible birth control such as implants, IUDs, or vaginal rings are of particular benefit in reducing rates of teenage pregnancy. After the delivery of a child, a woman who is not exclusively breastfeeding may become pregnant again after as few as four to six weeks. Some methods of birth control can be started immediately following the birth, while others require a delay of up to six months. In women who are breastfeeding, progestin-only methods are preferred over combined oral contraceptives. In women who have reached menopause, it is recommended that birth control be continued for one year after the last period.
About 222 million women who want to avoid pregnancy in developing countries are not using a modern birth control method. Birth control use in developing countries has decreased the number of maternal deaths by 40% (about 270,000 deaths prevented in 2008) and could prevent 70% if the full demand for birth control were met. By lengthening the time between pregnancies, birth control can improve adult women's delivery outcomes and the survival of their children. In the developing world women's earnings, assets, weight, and their children's schooling and health all improve with greater access to birth control. Birth control increases economic growth because of fewer dependent children, more women participating in the workforce, and less consumption of scarce resources.
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