A couple's decision to begin, prevent, or interrupt a pregnancy may be influenced by many medical factors, including maternal medical disorders, risks involved in pregnancy, and genetic evaluation. Often, religious, social, and other factors also affect family planning decisions; health care practitioners must be sensitive to these factors.
One or both members of a couple can use contraception to prevent pregnancy temporarily or sterilization to prevent pregnancy permanently. If contraception fails, abortion (termination of pregnancy) can be induced.
Last full review/revision August 2007 by Daniel R. Mishell, Jr., MD; Megan A. Economidis, MD