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Prophylaxis is a Greek word and concept. It means any action taken to guard or prevent beforehand. The corresponding adjective is prophylactic.

Two parts[change | change source]

The concept of prophylaxis has two parts. First is forethought. A person has to realise the need first of all. Second is taking appropriate action.

Any failure of prophylaxis is a failure at either stage 1 or stage 2. Successful prophylaxis means one has anticipated and avoided some undesirable outcome.

Examples[change | change source]

Preventative medicine[change | change source]

Prophylaxis is the central idea in preventative medicine. People usually think medical treatment helps sick people to get healthy. Prophylactic treatment is helpful in a different way. Primary prophylaxis tries to stop healthy people from getting sick. Secondary prophylaxis tries to stop people who are sick from getting worse.

Birth control[change | change source]

Prophylaxis may also be used as a synonym for birth control. Condoms are prophylactic, because when you use them, the female will not get pregnant. It is also prophylactic in another sense, because it reduces the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

Related pages[change | change source]