Family Planning; The Good and The Truth

family planning

Family planning is the core of women’s health.  It helps them determine when they want children, how far apart they should be, and when they want to stop having babies.  Contraception is essential for women’s empowerment and development, as well as the country’s economic growth. However,  besides the economic gains what more do women stand to gain, and are there any cons?

According to WHO, approximately 295,000 women died during and following pregnancy and childbirth in 2017. Of the figure, Sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia accounted for 86% of the deaths. Contraceptive use can help reduce maternal mortality and improve women’s health by preventing unplanned and high-risk pregnancies.  Additionally, birth control reduces the likelihood of disease transmission and ensures that babies delivered are healthy as a result of spacing which allows for proper child care.

Regardless of the health benefits, certain factors hinder women from accessing family planning services. Among them are rumors and misconception, culture, religion, provider bias, and cost of birth-control. Fortunately, this is gradually changing as women and the larger population are receptive to this idea.  The planned parenthood procedures used are highlighted below and can either be hormonal or non-hormonal.

Non-Hormonal

  1. Cycle tracking
  2. Withdrawal
  3. Condoms
  4. Abstinence
  5. Permanent procedures like vasectomy for men and tubal ligation for women
  6. Lactational amenorrhea (effective if a woman’s menstrual cycle has not resumed after birth and if the baby is exclusively breastfeeding)
  7. Non-hormonal intrauterine device/coil

Hormonal

  1. Birth control pills
  2. Emergency contraception
  3. Injectable contraceptive
  4. Implants
  5. Hormonal intrauterine device/coil
  6. Patch and vaginal rings

Hormonal procedures interfere with the normal reproductive cycle and this is where issues arise.  Some health effects experienced by most women using the hormonal techniques are:

  1. Low sex drive
  2. Severe headaches or migraines
  3. Sore breasts
  4. Increased risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
  5. Weight gain
  6. Mood swings
  7. Hypertension
  8. Decreased milk supply if breastfeeding
  9. Irregular monthly periods or lighter than normal flow
  10. Risk of getting an ectopic pregnancy if using the coil
  11. Infections such as pelvic inflammatory disease that may arise from the coil
  12. Nausea
  13. Changes in vaginal discharge that can result in vaginal dryness

Understanding the risk one is exposed to and having accurate information will help in making an informed choice. Further, the selection of a contraceptive method is influenced by several factors such as; the overall state of the woman’s health, desire to have children in the future, need to prevent sexually transmitted infections, frequency of sex, your partner’s needs, and the number of sex partners.

Is there anything like the ‘best’ birth control method? Actually, NO! What works for one woman might not work for the other, and each procedure has its advantages and disadvantages.  Considering the various options available, work with your gynecologist, and in case of any bleeding or unusual occurrences, visit the hospital for proper advice.

The pros may outweigh the cons; being equipped with the right information and knowing what works for you is vital.

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