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Tubal Ligation
A surgical procedure to prevent pregnancy in which the fallopian tubes are tied or cut and burned to prevent ova (eggs) from entering the uterus. It is designed to be a permanent procedure, although with additional surgery it can sometimes be successfully reversed. This is sometimes called “getting your tubes tied.”

Surgical Abortion
A procedure done to end a pregnancy that is performed by a doctor or clinician in a clinic setting under local or general anesthesia. During this procedure, a woman’s cervix is dilated (widened) so that a vacuum-like tube or a curette (a spoon-like object) can be inserted and the contents of the uterus can be withdrawn. The procedure takes between five and 15 minutes. It is 99-percent effective.

Abortion
A medical procedure that ends a pregnancy. There are two types of abortions: surgical and medical. Surgical abortions are the most common in the United States and utilize a procedure called vacuum aspiration. Medical abortions, also called drug-induced abortions, involve taking medication that terminates a pregnancy.

Birth
The process of a baby leaving the uterus. This can happen either through the vagina or through a caesarian section (C-section).

Birth Defects
A physical abnormality that is present at birth.

Alternative Fertilization
A procedure that uses artificial means to place sperm into a female’s uterus or cervix. This was formerly referred to as “artificial insemination.”

Conception
The process of an egg and sperm joining in the fallopian tube. Conception is not the same as pregnancy, which is defined by medical experts as the point when the newly fertilized egg implants in the wall of the uterus.

Dilation
The process of widening an opening in the body. In reproductive health, it refers to the widening of the cervix during childbirth.

Ectopic Pregnancy
When a fertilized egg implants itself outside of the uterus, usually in the fallopian tubes. Since most ectopic pregnancies implant in the fallopian tube, they are also sometimes called tubal pregnancies. In this situation the fetus is not viable, which means it cannot survive. All ectopic pregnancies need to be terminated; if left untreated, they can be dangerous to the woman’s health.

Fetus
An organism that develops from an embryo after about eight weeks of pregnancy. A fetus receives nourishment through the placenta. It will eventually develop to full term and when it is born is called a baby.

Fertile
The ability to produce offspring; the ability to have children.

Placenta
The sac in which a fetus develops during pregnancy that provides nourishment and protection.

Pregnancy
The process by which an implanted, fertilized egg develops into a fetus. This typically takes nine months.

Pregnancy Test
A test to determine whether or not a girl or woman is pregnant. Pregnancy tests come in two varieties: a urine test, which can be taken at home, and a blood test, which must be administered by a clinician.

The urine test is by far the most widely used and can be used within 5-6 days after implantation (when a fertilized egg attaches to the lining of the uterus). You can buy a home pregnancy test at most drug stores for between $8-20. You do not need a prescription.

Prenatal Care
Medical services a woman receives during her pregnancy. The purpose of prenatal care is to monitor the health of the pregnant woman and fetus to ensure proper growth and development for both. Prenatal care can also detect fetal abnormalities early on.

Pregnant Minor
A legal status that is different from being a minor. It is more like having the rights and responsibilities of an adult that allows a teen to make decisions about their prenatal health. The laws vary state to state, but generally a girl is a pregnant minor if she is under 18 and pregnant. This status allows her certain “adult” rights, like the right to get medical care without her parent’s permission.