Family Planning: An Informed Choice| Family Planning Methods

family planning

Family planning enables people to attain desired number of children and determine the spacing of pregnancies. By ‘spacing’ I mean keeping a gap between two conceptions. Research shows that women must wait for at least 2 years before conceiving again. This results in better maternal and child health outcome. Short spacing leads to low birth weight in babies, premature babies, pre term labor, mental stress for mothers etc. Thus, limiting and spacing the number of children results in better maternal, child and economic outcomes of a family. So in simple words, family planning accomplishes following three goals

  • When do you want to start your family?
  • Deciding age different between your children
  • When do you want to stop having children?

All family planning programs all over the world strive to provide access to all methods of family planning along with right information so that a couple can make an informed decision regarding the best contraceptive methods they could adopt.

Benefits of Family Planning

Spacing births appropriately gives time to replenish vital nutrients like iron and calcium that were lost during child birth and breastfeeding and also the recovery time to allow uterus to restore back to normal. So if one becomes pregnant before replenishing these stores, it will adversely affect the foetus. Family planning also ensures that new parents have the energy and ability to focus on another child and not compromise time and health of the older child. In simple terms family planning enables the following

  • Reducing number of unwanted pregnancies and abortions
  • Reducing number of teenage pregnancies
  • Health baby
  • Healthy mother
  • Preventing sexually transmitted diseases
  • Enables economic growth of the family
  • Empowers a woman

Family Planning Methods – Make an informed choice

Once a couple has decided to use family planning, they must make a choice on which one to choose. To enable their informed choice, it is essential that they must learn about different methods available with their selection criteria. There are two ways of family planning namely ‘Modern’ methods and ‘Traditional’ methods.

Modern MethodMechanismExampleWho should useProtection from STDs
Barrier MethodIt prevents pregnancy by keeping away the sperm from reaching the eggsCondomsAny couple who is willing and is motivated to use it before each act of sexual intercourse.

Easily available over the counter.

HormonalIt prevents the woman’s ovary from releasing an egg, makes it harder for the sperm to reach the egg and keep the lining of the uterus from supporting a pregnancyOral contraceptive pills,

Hormonal patch

Any woman who has no contraindication to hormonal medication like heart disease etc.

Woman has to remember to take a pill each day.

Intrauterine deviceThey prevent the sperm from fertilizing the woman’s egg by thickening cervical mucusCopper TAny couple who wants to space pregnancy for yearsno
Permanent methodsThese are reversible or irreversible operative procedures that prevent pregnancy.Tubectomy, tubal ligation, VasectomyAny couple who no more want to have childrenno


Traditional Methods of Family Planning

Calendar Method: A woman monitors her pattern of menstrual cycle and ovulation dates and marks on calendar. Observation is needed for nearly 6 months to be near accuracy. During the fertile days, either the couple abstains from sex or uses a condom. Accuracy levels are low if the menstrual cycle is irregular leading to pregnancy

Withdrawal Method: In this method, man withdraws his penis from his partner’s vagina and ejaculates outside keeping sperm away from external genetalia. But there is a 22%-25% chance of leakage of few sperms into the vagina.

Where should one go to avail family planning services?

  • Any public or private hospital
  • government dispensaries (provision of free of cost)
  • Auxiliary Nurse Midwives,(provision of free of cost)
  • ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activist) can help you access any of these services free of cost.

Barriers to Family Planning:

  • Lack of education
  • Lack of choice in form of unavailability of whole range of contraceptives
  • Myths relates to contraception

Your health worker/doctor shall take your complete medical, personal and obstetric history before giving you a range of contraceptive for your respective choice and need.

Talk to your health worker as soon as possible and plan your family. Empower yourself by choosing wisely!!

I am a doctor and a public health specialist from Delhi. I have expertise in Obstetrics & Gynecology, child health and vaccinations. Formerly I worked with WHO’s immunization program in rural India as a technical consultant. I believe that accurate and relevant health information is the key to positive behavioral change subsequently leading to good health. I am an ardent traveler and a passionate writer.


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