How Human Reproduction Works

Contraception and STDs

While this article detailed the steps of human reproduction, there are ways to stop such a thing from happening. There are several methods of contraception:

  • Abstinence involves not engaging in sexual activity.
  • Birth control pills prevent ovulation.
  • Condoms, intrauterine devices, cervical caps and diaphragms place a barrier between sperm and egg.
  • Spermicides kill sperm.
  • Surgical procedures such as tubal ligations for women or vasectomies for men will cease ovulation and sperm production.
  • Calendar-based methods involve determining periods of maximum fertility and avoiding sexual contact during those times.

These methods have varying degrees of effectiveness, and not all of them may be suited for certain people. Talk with a medical professional about the method that's right for you and your situation.

And even if you're not planning on reproducing right this minute, you may want to someday. That's why it's important for men and women to keep their reproductive health in tip-top shape. Sexually transmitted diseases and infections can cause fertility trouble down the road. Common sexual infections include gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia, genital herpes, HIV/AIDS and trichomoniasis. To prevent sexual infections, both men and women should be regularly tested and engage in safe sexual activity.

Other issues can affect fertility as well. For women, age is a factor, as are hormonal imbalances, stress, poor diet, autoimmune disorders and tobacco and alcohol use. If a woman is either underweight or overweight, she may have trouble conceiving. For men, poor diet, obesity, stress, tobacco, alcohol, drugs, certain medications and very hot water can all affect sperm quality.

For more information on human reproduction and related topics, follow the links below.

Related Articles


  • Adams, Cecil. "Why are storks associated with babies?" The Straight Dope. March 9, 2004. (July 26, 2011)
  • Angier, Natalie. "Sleek, Fast and Focused: The Cells That Make Dad Dad." The New York Times. June 12, 2007. (July 26, 2011)
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Multiple Births." Oct. 5, 2010. (July 26, 2011)
  • Doheny, Kathleen. "10 Surprising Health Benefits of Sex." WebMD. March 30, 2009. (July 26, 2011)
  • Dowshen, Steven. "Female Reproductive System." KidsHealth. May 2010. (July 26, 2011)
  • Dowshen, Steven. "Male Reproductive System." KidsHealth. May 2010. (July 26, 2011)
  • Encyclopaedia Britannica. "Fertilization." 2011. (July 26, 2011)
  • Encyclopaedia Britannica. "Human reproductive system." 2011. (July 26, 2011)
  • Encyclopaedia Britannica. "Human sexual behavior." 2011. (July 26, 2011)
  • Kimball, John W. "Sexual Reproduction in Humans." April 17, 2011. (July 26, 2011)
  • March of Dimes. "Multiples: Twins, Triplets and Beyond." December 2009. (July 26, 2011)
  • WebMD. "Your Guide to the Sexual Response Cycle." March 4, 2010. (July 26, 2011)