Birth control, also known as contraception and fertility control, are methods or devices used to prevent pregnancy.Planning, provision and use of birth control is called family planning.Safe sex, such as the use of male or female condoms, can also help prevent sexually transmitted infections. Birth control methods have been used since ancient times, but effective and safe methods only became available in the 20th century. Some cultures deliberately limit access to birth control because they consider it to be morally or politically undesirable.
In teenagers, pregnancies are at greater risk of poor outcomes. Comprehensive sex education and access to birth control decreases the rate of unwanted pregnancies in this age group. While all forms of birth control may be used by young people,long-acting reversible birth control such as implants, IUDs, or vaginal rings are of particular benefit in reducing rates of teenage pregnancy. After the delivery of a child, a woman who is not exclusively breastfeeding may become pregnant again after as few as four to six weeks. Some methods of birth control can be started immediately following the birth, while others require a delay of up to six months. In those who are breast feeding progestin-only methods are preferred over combined oral contraceptives. In those who have reached menopause it is recommended that birth control be continued for one year after the last period.
About 222 million women who want to avoid pregnancy in developing countries are not using a modern birth control method. Birth control use in developing countries has decreased the number of maternal deaths by 40% (about 270,000 deaths prevented in 2008) and could prevent 70% if the full demand for birth control were met. By lengthening the time between pregnancies, birth control can improve adult women's delivery outcomes and the survival of their children. In the developing world women's earnings, assets, weight, and their children's schooling and health all improve with greater access to birth control. Birth control increases economic growth because of fewer dependent children, more women participating in the workforce, and less consumption of scarce resources.