Family planning helps a person to control the number of children he/she will have and also helps him/her to decide on the interval between the births. Research shows that 214 million women of reproductive age who do not wish to become pregnant do not use a modern contraceptive method in the developing world. Countries like India are already suffering from overpopulation. So people in these countries need to be sensitized about the ill-effects of this population explosion and they should also be taught about how to do family planning.
Birth control is the primary method by which a person is able to do family planning. There are a number of benefits associated with family planning. These include prevention of pregnancy-related health risks in women, reduction of infant mortality, prevention of HIV/AIDS, people empowerment, reduction of pregnancies in adolescents and most importantly, it helps to slow population growth. Family planning or contraception reduces the risks associated with unsafe abortion. When unwanted pregnancy is avoided with the help of family planning/contraception, deaths of a large number of mothers and children can be avoided.
There are different types of contraception that help in birth control. The different methods are long-acting reversible contraception, hormonal contraception, barrier methods, emergency contraception, fertility awareness and permanent contraception like vasectomy and tubal ligation.
Long-active reversible contraception (LARC) lasts for a long time. The two types of LARC are intra uterine device that lasts for five to ten years and the implant that lasts three-five years. They are sometimes referred to as ‘fit and forget’ contraception as the person does not need to remember it every day or every month. The hormonal contraceptives include the pill and the Depo Provera injection. The pills are of two types: combined oral contraceptive pill and progesterone-only contraceptive pill. This pill has to be taken every day and is almost 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. The Depo Provera injection is another type of hormonal contraception and this injection has to be taken every 3 months for effective results. Use of condoms by both men and women also help to prevent pregnancy.
A sure way of avoiding pregnancy and therefore doing family planning is abstinence. Abstinence requires a person to not indulge in kind of sexual activity including vaginal, oral or anal. When a mother breast-feeds her child, the chances of her becoming pregnant before the baby reaches 6 months of age are substantially lower. This helps in family planning. Outercourse is a form of sexual activity that does not involve any vaginal intercourse and thereby lessens the chances of getting unwanted pregnancies. Vaginal rings are another type of contraceptive that are inserted in the vagina for 3 weeks out of a 4-week menstrual cycle. The vaginal rings cause estrogen and progestin to be released into the vagina and they ensure effective birth control. Other forms of birth control measures include the use of intrauterine devices and implantable rod. There are a few methods by which permanent sterilization can be done in both men and women. Tubal ligation for women and vasectomy in men prevent the man/woman from furthering their lineage and therefore, is an essential tool for family planning.
Inserting an IUD in the vagina may increase the risk of infection. Therefore this method should be done for those women who are in a momogamous relationship. Family planning is the need of the hour to fight the various problems that our society faces in the present time. Men and women who do not want an unwanted child and any woman who wants to avoid complications arising out of unwanted pregnancies are eligible for this treatment. Basically, an informed person who wants to plan his/her child birth and to space out the pregnancies can avail this treatment.
Abstinence is one of the sure-fire ways of avoiding pregnancy. But this method requires a great deal of self control on both a woman and her partner. A person who cannot exert such control will not find any beneficial effects from abstinence. Women who are on the heavier side are not eligible for treatment with emergency contraception pills. People with high blood pressure, or suffering from other ailments of the heart are not eligible for undergoing treatment with hormonal contraception. A person who wants to bear children in the future is not available for permanent sterilization.
The side-effects associated with vasectomy include infection, hematoma, hydrocele, bruising, granuloma, pain, tube re-connection and decreased libido. The side effects of rod implantation include irregular menstrual bleeding, acne, weight gain, heavy periods, ovarian cysts, mood changes or depression, upset stomach, dizziness, soreness of the breast, decreased libido and skin scarring. IUD can cause uterine cramps, intermenstrual bleeding, pulmonary inflammatory disease, heavy periods and infertility. The side-effects of using contraceptive pills are bleeding during periods, tenderness of the breasts, vomiting, disturbances in the stomach, weight gain, dizziness and also frequent mood changes.
There are a number of ways by which family planning and birth control can be done. A person taking contraceptive medications will have to continue taking them in order to avoid unwanted pregnancy. Male and female condoms are to be used every time two people indulge in sexual activities. A person who has undergone tubal ligation or vasectomy will require some days before she/he can get back to his/her normal life. These permanent contraception will require people who have undergone these surgeries to adhere to certain guidelines prescribed by the doctor.
Just like any other surgery, recovery from tubal ligation and vasectomy will take a few weeks. A person will generally not be able to indulge in strenuous activities for at least 3 weeks. There is no recovery time for using condoms as they are to be used every time someone indulges in sexual activities. Hormonal birth control pills do not provide a permanent solution for birth control but it helps a person to avoid pregnancy for a specific time. A person on such pills will generally have to wait for a period of 2 years before trying to conceive again.
Hormonal birth control pills are available within a price range of Rs 0 – Rs 3000. In India, some government hospitals provide IUDs for free. However, they are available for Rs 300 – Rs 500 at private establishments. Female sterilization procedures can cost anywhere between Rs 1,00,000 to Rs 4,00,000. Depo Provera or birth-control shots can be purchased from Rs 2500 onwards. Birth control rings can be bought for Rs 2000.
The results of permanent contraception procedures like tubal ligation and vasectomy are more or less permanent. Hormonal birth control pills help a person to avoid pregnancy and thus aids in family planning for a specific period of time. But the results are not permanent. IUDs and vaginal implants also help to prevent pregnancy for a period ranging between 3-5 years and hence their results are also not permanent.
There are no such alternative methods for family planning. Educating people about family planning and making them aware of the ill-effects of unwanted child birth is one important method. Use of diaphragm and spermicide helps to deal with this problem of unwanted pregnancies. Abstinence is a method that can assure 100 % results but it is not a viable option.