Women's Health Health Center

Sexual Health: The main reason to use contraception is to prevent pregnancy while remaining sexually active. Certain types of contraception, like barrier methods, work because they physically prevent sperm from entering the woman's uterus. Other forms of contraception, such as birth control pills or patches, are effective because they release hormones that prevent ovulation.

STDs are typically caused by different bacteria and viruses that enter the body through unprotected sexual activity. People can get STDs through vaginal, oral and anal intercourse. There are over 20 types of STDs — some caused by bacteria, which can be treated with antibiotics, and some caused by viruses, which have no cure. Certain viruses can turn to more deadly diseases later. For example, HIV may progress to AIDS ,and HPV can progress to AIDS or various types of cancer.

Reproductive Health: The menstrual cycles is typically 28 days long but can range from 21 to 35 days. At the start of a female's menstrual cycle, hormone levels rise, which causes the uterine lining to grow and thicken. An egg begins to mature in one of the ovaries then travels down the fallopian tube to the uterus. A woman becomes pregnant when this egg is fertilized by a man's sperm cell via sexual intercourse. If it is not fertilized, the uterus sheds the extra thick lining that it does not need. This shedding results in the menstruation women experience monthly.

Menopause: Menopause is caused by the loss of estrogen in a woman's body. With this change in female hormone levels, the body adapts, transitioning to make up for the lack of estrogen and progesterone being produced.

However, other events and conditions in a female’s life can bring upon menopause and menopausal symptoms much earlier in life. Surgery to remove the uterus (hysterectomy) will cause periods to stop — the definition of menopause. But because the ovaries are untouched, symptoms such as hot flashes may not begin to occur immediately. Over time, as the ovaries begin to produce less hormones, the signs and symptoms of menopause may begin.

Review Date: 
October 1, 2012
Last Updated:
September 4, 2014