Family planning includes the decision to have or not have children and whatever methods are used to prevent pregnancy. There are two basic methods in family planning; the artificial and the natural method.
When deciding which of the two options to choose, one needs to consider their effectiveness, their ease of use and whether or not preventing pregnancy is a temporary or permanent decision. Let us explore the different options.
Natural methods include; the calendar method, withdrawal and the much detested ‘personal control’ or abstinence.
The only 100-percent effective way to avoid becoming pregnant is to abstain completely from having sex.
This is where a woman tracks her cycle; she can accurately predict when her most fertile time of the month is and avoid intercourse during those days. When done correctly, it is effective 98 percent of the time.
This method is dangerous because it demands an accurate recording of the intervals between monthly periods. Failure may result into unnecessary pregnancy.
A man using withdrawal to prevent his partner’s pregnancy must withdraw his penis from the woman’s vagina before ejaculation occurs. This method is effective in preventing pregnancy only.
It is risky because the chances of getting pregnant with this method are much higher than with any other method, besides, some men have difficulty telling when they will ejaculate.
The artificial methods in family planning include the use of condoms, IUD (Intrauterine device), birth control pills and injectibles.
Birth control pills
Birth control pills are a combination of pills which contain a combination of the hormones estrogen and progestin. They are 95 to 99 percent effective in preventing pregnancy.
Synthetic hormones regulate the menstrual cycle, preventing a woman from ovulating.
About 40 percent of women who take birth control pills will have side effects of one kind or another during the first three months of use. Some side effects are uncommon but may be dangerous and these include breakthrough bleeding or spotting between women’s menstrual periods, heart attacks, blood pressure, headaches, depression, nausea and vomiting, breast tenderness and increased risk of having a blood clot in the legs or lungs.
Barrier methods prevent sperm from reaching eggs. These methods include condoms, diaphragms, cervical caps and sponges. These methods are 86 to 97 percent effective in preventing pregnancy.
These methods are risky. For instance, sponges can be difficult to remove, sometimes causing irritation or allergic reaction.
Also, women can’t use sponges if they’re menstruating. If sponges are left in too long, there is a risk of toxic shock syndrome, which is sometimes fatal because of bacterial infection.
Diaphragm method is linked to greater risk of bladder infections, and can cause toxic shock syndrome if left in for more than 24 hours.
Putting on the condom during an intimate moment may reduce spontaneity and, for some, sensitivity. Latex allergy sufferers might notice discomfort. A new condom is required each time you have sex. The condom can break, tear, or fall easily, increasing the risk of pregnancy.
Surgery in birth control involves the application of female sterilization, and the vasectomy in men.
Female Sterilization or Tubal Ligation: This is commonly called “getting your tubes tied,” and is a surgical sterilization technique for women. This procedure closes the fallopian tubes, and stops the egg from traveling to the uterus from the ovary.
It also prevents sperm from reaching the fallopian tube to fertilize an egg. In a tubal ligation, fallopian tubes are cut, burned, or blocked with rings, bands or clips.
Vasectomy is a minor surgical procedure done on a man that prevents pregnancy by blocking the passage of sperm into seminal fluid.
The above methods require surgery and have risks associated with bleeding (usually minimal), infection, scarring reaction to the anesthetic that is used, mild to moderate pain and swelling of testicles.
All in all the use of birth control methods help to save the lives of women and children by preventing untimely and unwanted pregnancies. They also reduce women’s exposure to the health risks of childbirth and abortion and give women more time to care for their children and themselves.
All couples and individuals have the right to decide freely and responsibly on the number and spacing of their children.