5 Keys to Avoiding Pregnancy

If your goal is to avoid pregnancy, it’s essential to know how pregnancy happens. Here are the key things you need to know about avoiding pregnancy.

1. Only abstinence is 100% foolproof

Not engaging in sexual intercourse keeps sperm from reaching the vagina and is the most effective way to prevent pregnancy. Talk to your partner about abstinence and confining yourselves to “outercourse” activities like kissing, fondling, masturbating.

2. Know how your reproductive systems work

The female and male reproductive systems are highly complex and include hormones, glands, and organs. Let’s look at how hers and his work.

Female Reproductive System: the entire female system is designed to produce an egg, also called the ova or oocytes, and then transport the ova to the fallopian tubes where is can be fertilized by his sperm. Once fertilized, the egg implants into the uterus walls. This is the beginning of the early stages of pregnancy.

When fertilization or implantation doesn’t occur, then the system sheds the uterine lining and she menstruates, also known as having her period. The female reproductive system produces female sex hormones to maintain the reproductive cycle.

The female reproductive system is both internal and external to the body. Internal organs include:

Vagina: It is a canal which joins the cervix to the external portion of the body.

Uterus: This pear-shaped, hollow organ acts as ‘home’ for a developing fetus. The uterus separates into two parts: the cervix, and the corpus. The corpus easily enlarges for holding a developing baby.

Ovaries: These are small oval-shaped glands located on both side of the uterus. Ovaries produce hormones and eggs.

Fallopian tubes: They are narrow tubes which attach to the upper portion of the uterus. Fallopian tubes transport male sperm to the egg and provide a suitable environment for fertilization, and transport the egg from the ovary where it is produced to the central channel (lumen) of the uterus.

External parts include:
Labia majora: It protects and encloses the other outside reproductive organs. The labia majora can be tagged as outsized and fleshy and is analogous to the male scrotum. It contains sweat as well as oil-secreting glands. The labia majora gets covered with hair right after puberty.

Labia minora: These are translated as ‘small lips’, and can be small or up to two inches wide. Labia minora rest just in the interior of labia majora. It surrounds the primary opening of the vagina and urethra.

Clitoris: Both the labia minora encounter at the clitoris, which is a small and delicate protrusion that is analogous to the penis in the male reproductive system. This part of the female reproductive system is covered by a skin fold, called prepuce. Similar to the male penis, the clitoris is sensitive to stimulus and can turn erect.

Bartholin’s glands: The location of these glands rest beside the vaginal opening and is responsible to manage a fluid discharge.

Male Reproductive System: sperm must fertilize the egg so let’s look at his biology

Unlike the female reproductive system, most of the male system is located outside his body and include the penis, scrotum and testicles.

Penis: Is the male organ used for urination and sexual intercourse. The penis is located above the scrotum. It is made of spongy tissue and blood vessels. The shaft of the penis surrounds the urethra and is connected to the pubic bone. The foreskin covers the head (glans) of the penis. This foreskin is removed is the male is circumcised. Penile tissue is made up of thousands of big spaces which are filled with blood whenever the male is sexually aroused.

Once the penis is filled with blood, it grows erect and rigid; this allows or assists penetration while having a sexual intercourse. Since the penis skin is loose, it helps to accommodate variations in penis size in the course of an erection.

The sperm or reproductive cells are contained in the semen. It is ejaculated through the penis end when the male reaches orgasm or sexual climax. It is interesting to know that, the flow of urine tends to get blocked from the passage of urethra whenever the penis is erect. Hence, only semen is discharged at orgasm.

Scrotum is the loose sac-like skin bag which hangs below the penis. This part of the male reproductive system holds the testes or testicles, along with many blood vessels and nerves. Scrotum behaves like a temperature control system in regard to the testes. In order to achieve normal sperm development, it is necessary that the temperature of the testes should be somewhat cooler than the body temperature.

Testes or Testicles are oval organs which are almost the size of bigger olives which are present within the scrotum. These are secured at all ends by a structure termed as spermatic cord. Usually, most men have two tests.
The primary function of the testes is to make testosterone (chief male sex hormone) and generate sperm. In the interior of the testes you will find seminiferous tubules, which are coiled tube masses. The function of these tubes is to produce sperm cells.

Epididymis is a coiled tube which is long and is placed on the rear of each testicle. The function of Epididymis is to store and transport sperm cells which is created in the testes.

Ejaculatory Ducts are formed due to the union of the seminal vesicles and vas deferens. Ejaculatory ducts get unfilled into the urethra.
Seminal Vesicles are sac-like pouches which are linked to the vas deferens close to the bladder base. The fluid contained in the seminal vesicles are responsible for making up the maximum volume of a male’s ejaculatory fluid.

Prostate Gland is a walnut-sized assembly which is present under the urinary bladder. The function of the prostate gland is to contribute additional fluid for ejaculation.
Bulbourethral Gland are pea-sized structures located on the edges of the urethra right beneath the prostate gland. Bulbourethral gland produces a slippery, clear fluid which empties into the urethra.

Urethra is a tube which carries urine from the bladder to outside the body. The urethra ejaculates semen during orgasm.
Vas deferens is a muscular, long tube from the epididymis to the pelvic cavity. Mature sperm is transported by vas deferens to the urethra.

3. Know how ovulation works

Ovulation is when a mature egg is released from the ovary, pushed down the fallopian tube, and is made available to be fertilized. Approximately every month an egg will mature within one of your ovaries. As it reaches maturity, the egg is released by the ovary where it enters the fallopian tube to make its way towards waiting for sperm and the uterus. An egg lives 12-24 hours after leaving the ovary. Sperm can live up to five days in the fallopian tube.  Learn more about ovulation and how to track your ovulation cycle.

4. Consider contraception

Contraception is birth control. There a number of hormonal and barrier methods. When determining which birth control method is right for you, consider each method’s effectiveness, safety, availability and side effects. Remember, the only 100 percent effective way to avoid pregnancy is abstinence. Learn about the different methods of contraception.

5. If you choose contraception, be sure you’re using the method correctly

Every method has requirements for proper use and a failure rate. Be sure you know everything for proper use. For example, if you’re taking birth control pills, be sure to take every pill on schedule. When using condoms, be sure to read expiration dates and inspect for tears.

 

Resources include:

Cleveland Clinic- Female Reproductive System: Structure & Function

Healthline – Female Reproductive Organs: Anatomy and Function