Family Planning   



Family Planning

 
Quincy D. Austriaco gives you all the important facts on currently available family planning methods to help you make an informed choice. Emmi is a 35-year-old mom who candidly admits that her third child, 10-month-old Dennis, is an "accident."
Family planning was farthest from Emmi's mind after waiting 7 years to conceive her second child. Although she and her husband wanted a third child, the unexpected timing shook her. It took a while before she could muster enough courage to confirm the signals her body was sending her. In time, she bought a test kit on the way to the confectionary where she ordered her second child's first birthday cake.

Statistics indicate that Emmi is not alone. Most families have one child more than they want.

Family planning (FP) is defined as "achieving desired family size and proper birth spacing." However, beyond just avoiding "accidents," it saves mothers' lives by avoiding high-risk and unintended pregnancies; promotes children's health through spacing; and improves the quality of life of women, their partners and their children.

One out of five married women of childbearing age wants to space or limit the number of their children but is not using any form of contraception.

AN INFORMED CHOICE
According to Cynthia Herce, a family planning specialist, "Of the many reasons cited for not using contraception, health concerns and fear of side effects top the list." The organization's team of family planning counselors has counseled more than 60,000 clients; more often than not, counselling revolves around dispelling myths and misconceptions about modern family planning methods.

For many, family planning is all about popping a pill everyday, but Herce emphasizes that first and foremost, "it is all about a couple receiving adequate, appropriate and accurate information to enable them to make free and well-in formed decisions. Informed choice requires full information about the risks and benefits of the [family planning] methods available."

It is always best to consult a trained service provider before making the decision on what method to use. Your provider should be able to assess your reproductive needs and current medical conditions, and discuss appropriate methods based on your needs. Since the efficacy of most methods is client dependent, a full understanding and knowledge of correct use is very important. What follows is a list of contraception alternatives currently available.

THE PILL
The Pill, or birth control pill, is a highly popular FP method that is safe for most women. Two kinds of pills are currently available in the market: the comb1ned oral contraceptive (COG), which contains two hormones, and the progestin-only pill (POP) or minipill.
Pills work by stopping ovulation and thickening cervical mucus, making it difficult for sperm to pass through.

INTRAUTERINE DEVICE (IUD)
IUDs have been available since the 1960s. The device is a small, flexible plastic frame inserted into a woman's uterus through the vagina. The modern copper-bearing IUDs work by making the uterus an unhospitable environment. Studies reveal a pregnancy rate of only 0.6 to 0.8 per 100 women in the first year of use.

INJECTABLES
The most popular injectable is depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA), which contains the hormone progesterone. It is a long-acting drug that slowly releases the hormone, hence is given only every 3 months. DMPA works by suppressing ovulation in all cycles and thickening cervical mucus, which hampers sperm passage. It is a highly effective method with a pregnancy rate of less than 1 percent.

CONDOM
Also called rubbers, sheaths, skins or prophylactics, most condoms are made of thin latex rubber. Almost any man can use condoms safely unless he is allergic to latex.
According to the book "The Essentials of Contraceptive Technology" published by the Johns Hopkins Information Program, a lot of men use condoms incorrectly or do not like to use them every time they have sex. The risk of causing pregnancy, getting sexually transmitted infections (STIs), or giving STIs to their partners is thereby increased. The book further states that pregnancy occurs once in every eight women in the first year of use in people who "commonly used" it. This is different from the one pregnancy in every 33 women in the first year of use in those who used it "correctly every time."

LACTATIONAL AMENORRHEA METHOD (LAM)
LAM is the use of breast-feeding as a temporary family planning method. It provides natural protection against pregnancy when the following conditions are present: baby gets 85 percent of feedings from frequent breast-feeding, day and night; the mother's menstrual periods have not returned; and her baby is less than 4 months old.

FERTILITY AWARENESS-BASED METHODS
These include cervical secretion, basal body temperature, and symptom-thermal methods. These require that a woman learn how to tell when she is fertile (time when she can become pregnant) and avoid pregnancy by abstaining from vaginal intercourse or using barrier methods such as the condom.

VASECTOMY
Vasectomy is a relatively simple and safe surgical procedure that provides permanent contraception for men. A vasectomy procedure takes 15 minutes to perform. It involves cutting and ligating the tubes that channel sperm to prevent the sperm from mixing with the semen (fluid that comes out during ejaculation). It is not castration and does not affect the testes or libido.

Contrary to popular belief, vasectomy does not affect sexual performance or diminish the amount of ejaculate . A man who has undergone the procedure can no longer make a woman pregnant simply because his semen has no sperm.

BILATERAL TUBAL LIGATION (BTL)
Tubal ligation, or female sterilization, provides permanent contraception. BTL blocks the fallopian tubes by cutting and ligation to prevent sperm and ovum from meeting. It is the most widely used contraceptive method in the world. An estimated 140 million women worldwide choose this method to prevent further pregnancies. It can be done using local anesthesia and a light sedation.
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Happy reading,
Evelyn


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