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The reproductive period1 (or in women the childbearing period1) begins at puberty2. Menstruation3—the appearance of the periods4 or menses4 in women—also begins at puberty. The first period is called the menarche5 and menstruation ceases with the menopause6, which is also sometimes called the climacteric6. The absence of menstruation (e.g. after childbirth) is called amenorrhoea7.
- 3. menstruation n. — menstruate v. — menstrual adj.
- 6. menopause n. — menopausal adj. The expression change of life is used as a synonym for menopause in colloquial language.
The capacity of a man, a woman or a couple to participate in reproduction (i.e., the production of a live child) is called fecundity1. The lack of that capacity is called infecundity2, sterility2 or physiological infertility2. Fertility3 (601-1) on the other hand means actual reproductive performance —whether applied to an individual or group. It should be noted that in many Latin languages, the etymological equivalents of fertility and fecundity are used in a sense diametrically opposite to that in English. Thus, the French fécondité or the Spanish fecondidad are properly translated by fertility, and fertilité or fertilidad by fecundity. It should also be noted that although the conventions outlined above are generally followed by demographers, the terms fertility and fecundity are used much more loosely in medical literature, where they are sometimes treated as being almost synonymous. Childlessness4 may be due to sterility, but like the word infertility4 includes both physiological infertility (621-2) and voluntary infertility5 which is often inaccurately called voluntary sterility5.
- 1. fecundity n. — fecund adj. The term sub-fecundity when applied to an individual means that the capacity is below normal; it is also sometimes applied to a group of persons rather than to an individual.
- 2. sterility n. — sterile adj. — sterilize v., to make sterile, sterilization n., the operation of sterilizing. — infecundity n. — infecund adj.
- 3. fertility n. — adj. fertile. The term sub-fertility has been used to apply both to persons and to groups of low fertility, and also to groups which should properly be called sub-fecund, because their low fertility is due to physiological causes.
- 4. infertility n. — infertile adj. — childlessness n. — childless adj.
A sterile couple cannot procreate a child. The sterility may be due to either or both partners and either or both may prove to be fecund with another mate. Among women we distinguish primary sterility1 where the woman has never been able to have children, and secondary sterility2, which arises after one or more children have been born. Sterility may bo permanent but there are also periods of temporary sterility3. Women have sterile periods4 in each menstrual cycle5 (cf. 620-3*), because generally conception, can occur only during a few days around the time of ovulation6. A woman is sterile throughout an anovular cycle7 (i.e., a cycle in which ovulation does not occur). A woman is also sterile from the end of pregnancy (602-5) to the resumption of ovulation, which usually occurs after the puerperium (603-6).
A couple’s fertility (621-3) will depend upon their fecundity (621-1) and their reproductive behaviour1. A distinction is drawn between planners2 who attempt to regulate the number and spacing of their children, and non-planners3 who make no such attempt and whose fertility will depend entirely upon their sexual activity and fecundity. Some demographers use a broader definition of the term "planner" and include in this group couples who decide they wish to have as many children as possible as quickly as possible. In the narrower sense fertility planning4 or family planning4 consists in the restriction of births5 or limitation of births5, either temporarily to achieve the desired interval between successive births or permanently to prevent more births than desired. The terms birth control6, voluntary parenthood6 or planned fertility6 have been used.
- 4. A classification by fertility planning status distinguishes between the couples who have not tried to regulate the number and spacing of their children and those who have tried to do so, and subdivides the latter on the basis of the degree of success attained,
Contraception1, strictly speaking, refers to measures excluding sterilization (and, in some discussions, permanent and periodic abstinence) which are taken in order to prevent sexual intercourse2 or coitus2 from resulting in conception. A contraceptive method3 is sometimes called a birth control method3, but the latter term is also used in a broader sense to include intentional abortion (604-2), sterilization (621-2*) and complete abstinence4 from coitus, which are not usually considered to be contraceptive methods. A specific type of periodic abstinence (625-6) is classified as a birth control method when this term is used in its broader meaning. Some demographers classify it as a contraceptive method, but others do not.
- 1. contraception n. — contraceptor n., one who practises contraception.
A distinction is frequently drawn between appliance methods1 of contraception and non-appliance methods2. The former make use of contraceptives3 or contraceptive devices3 which prevent the union of the sperm and the ovum, or of chemical contraceptives4 or spermicides4 which kill the sperm. One principal non-appliance method of contraception is coitus interruptus5 or withdrawal5. Another non-appliance method of contraception is periodic abstinence6 or the rhythm method6, in which coitus-is avoided during the period when the woman is believed to be fecund and takes place only during the so-called safe period7 of the menstrual cycle (622-5) when she is believed to be incapable of conceiving (602-1 *). Some fertility planning couples (623-4) use the rhythm method to try to ensure a conception when wanted, i.e., they have intercourse during the period when ovulation is believed to occur.
- 2. The Roman Catholic Church distinguishes also between natural methods and unnatural
methods of contraception, with periodic abstinence classified as natural and all other methods as unnatural.
The appliance methods which are more commonly used to prevent the union of the sperm and the ovum include the condom1 or sheath1 used by men, and the diaphragm2 or pessary2, cervical cap2, stem pessary3, tampon4 or sponge4 and douche5 used by women. The chemical contraceptives which are more commonly used by women as spermicides include the contraceptive jelly6, cream6, paste6 or suppository6 and foam tablets7 or foam powders7. Certain of these methods are commonly used in combination with others, e.g. diaphragm and jelly.
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