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
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
- 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
See pictures of sexual conditions and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
Sexually transmitted diseases and AIDS/HIV
SOURCE: National Institute of Child and Health and Human Development;