Birth control, also known as contraception and fertility control, is a method or device used to prevent pregnancy. Planning, making available, 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 birth control. This is followed by a number of hormone based methods including oral pills, patches, vaginal rings, and injections. Less effective methods include physical barriers such as condoms, diaphragms and birth control sponges 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 practices, such as with the use of male or female condoms, can also help prevent sexually transmitted infections. Other methods of birth control do not protect against sexually transmitted diseases.
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