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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, a female will not get pregnant, and it reduces the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.