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
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
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
Pills work by stopping ovulation and thickening
cervical mucus, making it difficult for sperm to
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.
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
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
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
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