Terms You Should Know about Reproductive Rights

Abortion rally


The termination of a pregnancy before the fetus is viable and capable of existence outside the uterus.


Not having any type of intercourse or sex play with a partner; the only birth control method that is 100% effective in preventing pregnancy as well as sexually transmitted diseases.

Birth Control Shot/Contraceptive Injections

A contraceptive that is an injectable form of the progestin medroxyprogesterone acetate (also known as DMPA shot or Depo Provera). These are reversible methods of prescription birth control. Pregnancy protection ranges 30 days to 14 weeks depending on the type of shot.

Cervical Cap

A flexible silicone or latex cup, similar to a diaphragm, that is filled with spermicide and self-inserted over the cervix prior to intercourse.

Cervical Fluid Method

A contraceptive method that involves observing cervical mucus changes in order to determine when you may be most fertile.

Coitus Interruptus

Where a man pulls his penis out of the vagina before he ejaculates (also known as withdrawal).

Combination Birth Control Pills

Oral contraceptive pills that combine natural or synthetic estrogens and progestins.


A thin sheath made of latex rubber, polyurethane (plastic), or animal membrane that fits over a man's erect penis during intercourse. Also called prophylactics or rubbers.

Copper T380A IUD

A small, T-shaped contraceptive device, about one and a quarter inches wide by one and three eighths inches long, made of flexible plastic and wrapped in copper (also known as ParaGard).


A latex or silicone, dome-shaped cup with a flexible rim. It is inserted securely in the vagina and becomes a barrier which covers the cervix.


A female reproductive cell, also called an oocyte or ovum.


An egg in the early stages of growth from fertilization by a sperm until the eighth week of pregnancy.

Emergency Contraception

Contraceptive method that can be used within five days of sexual intercourse to help prevent an unintended pregnancy. Offered in three ways:

  • Plan B - (progestin-only branded product) - consists of two pills that can be taken 12 hours apart or at the same time.
  • Oral contraceptive pills – they work by thickening the cervical mucus (the substance at the opening of the uterus) which makes it harder for sperm to reach and fertilize the egg. Oral contraceptives may prevent a woman's body from releasing an egg during her monthly menstrual cycle.
  • ParaGard IUD (a copper-releasing intrauterine device) - helps to prevent sperm from joining with an egg by interfering with the movement of the sperm toward the egg. It is also believed that the ParaGard IUD causes changes in the lining of the uterus to reduce the likelihood of implantation. ParaGuard provides pregnancy prevention immediately after it is inserted.

Female Condoms

A pre-lubricated polyurethane or nitrile pouch that is worn inside of the vagina during sex.

Fertility Awareness Method

A contraceptive method where a woman will monitor her fertility and avoid unprotected intercourse during her ovulation.


The unborn offspring from the eighth week after conception until birth.


The process during which a sperm penetrates an egg, the fusion of genetic material occurs, and an embryo develops.

Hormonal Contraception

Any type of birth control that contains the synthetic hormones of estrogen and/or progestin.


The natural or spontaneous abortion of a pregnancy.

Mirena IUD

A small, T-shaped contraceptive device made of flexible plastic that continuously releases a small amount of progestin.

Noristerat Injection

The noristerat injection is a reversible method of prescription birth control method. It is not available in the US but is common in the UK, Europe, Africa, and Central America. This method provides eight weeks of pregnancy protection.


Six small rubber contraceptive rods that are surgically implanted under the skin of the upper arm and slowly release progestin.


A flexible contraceptive ring that is about two inches in diameter and is inserted into the vagina once a month.

Oral Contraceptives

Another name for "The Pill" - a contraceptive tablet that is taken daily in order to prevent pregnancy.


Two almond shaped glands that produce female hormones and female sex cells.


The release of a ripened egg from its follicle (basic unit of reproductive cells, where the cell is held and develops).

Over-the-Counter Birth Control

Barrier contraceptives that obstruct sperm from fertilizing an egg and are available without a doctor's prescription.

Patch (Ortho Evra Patch)

A thin, beige, plastic patch that is applied (sticks) to the skin once a week for three weeks.

ParaGard IUD

A small, T-shaped contraceptive device, about one and a quarter inches wide by one and three eighths inches long, made of flexible plastic and wrapped in copper.

Permanent Birth Control

Specific surgical or non-surgical procedures that are designed to cause sterility in either males or females. Also known as permanent infertility.

Prenatal Care

The medical and nursing supervision and care given to the pregnant woman during the period between conception and the onset of labor.

Prescription Birth Control

Birth control methods that include medically prescribed hormones, barriers, or devices.

Progestin-Only Emergency Contraception

A type of progestin-only pill (also known as Plan B) which is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) specifically for emergency contraception.


The condition of having a developing embryo or fetus in the body after fertilization of the female egg by the male sperm.


A hormone secreted after ovulation, it prepares the uterine lining for implantation of a fertilized egg and helps sustain pregnancy.


A disposable soft, polyurethane device that is round and coated with spermicide. It is inserted into the vagina before sexual intercourse.


Chemical gels, foams, creams, or suppositories that kill sperm and are inserted into the vagina prior to intercourse.

Term Pregnancy

The normal length of time from conception to birth, typically between 38 and 42 weeks.

Tubal Ligation

A surgical or nonsurgical procedure that permanently sterilizes a woman by preventing an egg from traveling to the uterus (also known as tubal sterilization).


A surgical procedure that cuts the vas deferens, the tubes through which a man's sperm travels and causes permanent sterilization.

Contraception Dictionary