Family planning is more than just spacing your pregnancies or limiting family size. It safeguards your health and fertility, and improves the quality of life for your family. As the costs of living go up and education, nutrition and even leisure become increasingly important, you and your spouse would want to ensure that every one of your children gets the best that you can possibly give them.
There are many methods that can help when it comes to planning your family. It is important to know what options are out there before you and your spouse decide on the one that fits your needs.
JUST HAD A BABY? Family planning is just as important for new parents as it is for couples who have yet to start a family. The whole process of childbirth and caring for a newborn baby can take its toll – physically, emotionally and mentally. Your body needs time to rest and rebuild its nutritional stores, while you and your spouse need to devote time to get to know your newest member of the family.
Generally, there are two types of pills: progestin-only pills and combined pills, which contain estrogen and progestin. The pill needs to be taken daily to prevent pregnancy. It is safe, convenient, effective and may help to alleviate menstrual cramps and lessen heavy periods.
INTRAUTERINE DEVICE (IUD)
An IUD is a small T-shaped device made of plastic, which is inserted into the uterus. They are effective up to 3 years (some are effective for 5 years), after which they must be removed or replaced. Some IUDs release hormones that can help other problems you may have such as heavy periods.
An implant is a thin plastic device containing progestin about the size of a matchstick, which is inserted under the skin of the upper arm. The insertion takes only a few minutes and it stays effective for 3 years.
This method requires you to receive progestin injections every 12 weeks. While injectables are very effective, one possible unwanted effect is irregular vaginal bleeding.
If you and your spouse decide that you do not want any more children, one option is tubal ligation – an operation which closes off the fallopian tubes so that sperm cannot reach the egg. Male sterilisation involves a vasectomy, which is a minor operation usually performed under local anaesthesia. Do think carefully before opting for any of these procedures as they are irreversible.
All that you have read – from pills to injectables – are highly effective methods of contraception. Less effective methods are:
Barrier methods include soft latex or silicone barriers such as diaphragms, caps and shields that are inserted into the vagina, or a condom placed over the penis before sex. These methods are most effective when used with spermicide cream or jelly. The male condom offers the extra benefit of protecting the woman against sexually transmitted diseases (STD).
Chances of conception are reduced by planning sexual intercourse around the infertile times in your monthly cycle.
A traditional method where the man removes his penis from the woman’s vagina before he ejaculates.
Every contraceptive method is different. You may not be able to use certain methods due to intolerable side effects, contra-indications to their use or even cost. It is best to consult your doctor before using any of these methods.