Family Planning

What is family planning?

Family planning consists mainly of a series of practices that are used with the objective of controlling reproduction with the use of contraceptive methods during sexual intercourse. Thanks to family planning, people can control the number of children they will have.

Family planning allows the choice of contraceptive method for each situation. The ultimate goal of family planning is to improve maternal and child health in general. There are several types of contraceptive methods:

  • Barrier methods
    • Condom: The male condom is a latex sheath that is placed around the erect penis at the time of sexual intercourse. The condom is worn at all times during intercourse and will prevent sperm from entering the vagina. In the case of the female condom, it is placed inside the vagina before initiating sexual intercourse. Both protect against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
    • Diaphragm: This is a flexible metal arch with a latex membrane. It is inserted into the vagina, and prevents male sperm from advancing and passing into the uterus.
    • Cervical cap: a latex device similar to the diaphragm but smaller, which is inserted inside the vagina and prevents the passage of sperm into the cervix.
  • Hormonal methods
    • Vaginal ring: this is a plastic ring that is easily inserted into the vagina. This ring releases hormones gradually over three weeks and prevents ovulation. It should be inserted on the first day of menstruation and remain in the vagina for three weeks. It is 99% effective.
    • Contraceptive pill: this is a pill that is administered orally and contains hormones that prevent ovulation. It must be prescribed by a physician. It is 99% effective.
    • Injectable hormones: this is a series of contraceptives that are administered intramuscularly. They are administered monthly or quarterly. Its efficacy is 99%.
    • Intradermal patch: this is a small plastic that sticks to the body and continuously releases hormones into the bloodstream.
  • The IUD
    • The Intrauterine Device is a plastic device that is placed in the uterus and makes it difficult for sperm to fertilize eggs. It is placed through the vagina and lasts between three and five years. It is 99% effective.
  • Permanent methods
    • Vasectomy: this is an operation in which the tubes that transport sperm to the scrotum are sectioned and ligated, thus blocking their exit and preventing pregnancy. It is 99% effective.
    • Tubal ligation: is a contraceptive method in which the uterine tubes, the usual space in which fertilization occurs, are sectioned. In some cases it can be reversed.

Why is family planning performed?

Over the years, society has evolved, thus changing the mentality about the sexual sphere. Thus, the concept of sexual intercourse and conception has been separated, since today there are numerous methods to avoid conception while planning or postponing it, with the parents deciding when they wish to start a family.

At the same time, the advance of contraceptives has led to a significant reduction in the incidence of sexually transmitted diseases. Therefore, family planning is used as a method for family control and to control and prevent unwanted pregnancies.

Thus, family planning is performed to carry out the following preventive measures:

  • Schedule pregnancies
  • Limiting the number of family members
  • Spacing births over time

What does family planning consist of?

The different methods of family planning are carried out as follows:

  • Barrier methods
    • Condom: the male condom is a latex sheath that is placed over the erect penis and prevents the passage of semen during sexual intercourse. They also serve to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. One of their great advantages is that they are low cost and easily accessible, although they are for single use only and cannot be used if broken. In the case of the female condom, it is similar to the male condom, since its main function is to prevent sperm from entering the uterus. In this case, it is placed inside the woman’s vagina. It is not as effective as the male one, since its placement must be precise, and it is less economical.
    • Diaphragm: the diaphragm can be placed in the vagina up to six hours before sexual intercourse, and must be kept in place for up to six hours after it is completed. It is an alternative for women who cannot tolerate hormonal contraception, although it does not protect against STDs.
  • Hormonal methods
    • Vaginal ring: this is a soft, flexible plastic that is placed in the vagina and gradually releases contraceptive hormones at low doses. It is used for three weeks and is removed on the fourth week. It is inserted on the first day after menstruation and will remain in the vagina for three weeks. It may produce some side effects such as headache, although it has a number of advantages.
    • Contraceptive pill: it is an oral and daily pill. This pill contains estrogen and progestogen that prevent ovulation from occurring. To use it, the pill must be taken six days before menstruation begins. If started at any other time, the pill will not be effective until one month later. It is 99% effective, and helps reduce menstrual cramps. It requires a doctor’s prescription.
    • Intradermal patch: The intradermal patch delivers hormones into the bloodstream through the skin. Its use consists of wearing the patch every week for three weeks and not wearing it during the fourth week of the month. The patch should always be changed on the same day of the week, and it is recommended to place it on the buttocks, arms, upper trunk and abdomen.
    • Injectable hormones: it is performed by intramuscularly injecting a contraceptive compound. It is injected once a month or every three months, and once it has been injected it is not possible to withdraw it. It is very effective and has no side effects. It takes a woman about four months to regain fertility after discontinuation.
  • IUD
    • The IUD is a contraceptive used regularly by many women. However, it can also be used as an emergency method up to six days after unprotected intercourse. There are two types of IUD, the plastic IUD and the copper IUD, the latter being more effective. It is a method that can last up to five years.
  • Permanent methods
    • Tubal ligation and vasectomy are permanent methods of contraception, although in some cases they can be reversible. These are two surgeries in which part of the reproductive tract is blocked. In the case of tubal ligation, the fallopian tubes, which connect the ovaries to the uterus, are closed, preventing access of the eggs to the tubes. It is usually performed on adult women who have already been mothers and do not wish to become mothers again in the future.
      In the case of vasectomy, the tubes responsible for transporting the sperm out of the testicles are partially or totally removed, obstructing the sperm canal. In both cases, if all goes well, sexual intercourse can be resumed about a week after the operation.