Family planning is all about you deciding when to have your baby and how long it should take before the  next baby comes. Its about child spacing as to align with your preferences with respect to time. This is achieved using contraceptives. 

Contraceptives could be natural or artificial.

Family planning you may love
Cropped shot of an affectionate young couple smiling at each other while holding a pregnancy test strip in their bedroom at home

The sole aim is to help a couple plan pregnancy, which will enhance the health of the mother, that of the baby and the entire family.

When choosing which family planning method to go for, it’s important to consider the efficacy, safety, non-contraceptive benefits, cost, and your personal preference.

In this article, we will discuss the major family planning methods practiced in most parts of the world including Nigeria.

1. Periodic Abstinence:

This family planning method involves periodic abstinence, with couples attempting to avoid intercourse during a woman’s fertile period, which is around the time of ovulation.

Periodic abstinence is one of the most popularly used methods, especially among individuals whose religious or cultural beliefs prohibit the use of contraceptive devices or medicines.

For this to work, the woman has to be very well versed with her cycle. She will of a sure be certain of her most fertile period

If this method appeals to you and you are considering of using it, its important you understand ways to know monitor the ovulation time.

Here are Techniques to determine the woman’s ovulation period, you can ascertain the peak fertile period by using – 

  1. Calendar method.
  2. Cervical mucus method, and
  3. The basal body temperature reading.  

The calendar method: This method is used under the assumption that- 

1. Fertilization can only occur around 24hrs after ovulation 

2. The man’s sperm has only 48hrs to be able to fertilize the woman’s egg after intercourse.

3.ovulation usually takes place between 12 -16 days before the next menses.

Steps to estimating Your Fertile Period:

  1. Track your menses for six cycles. 
  1. The number of days in the shortest menstrual cycle is deducted from 18 to calculate the first day of the fertile period. The number of days in the longest cycle is deducted from 11 to determine the last day of the fertile phase. 

These assumptions have to be correct, for the calendar method to be proven to work.

Advantages

  1. No adverse effects from hormones, as no hormonal or drug use involved.
  2. For cultural or religious reasons, this may be the only option available to couples.
  3. Fertility is not disrupted in any way, and pregnancy can occur whenever the couple stop the technique

Disadvantages

  1. This is best for only ladies who have regular and predictable periods. 
  2. Unless backup contraception is employed, complete abstinence is required during the fertile time, necessitating a lot of self-control. 
  3. When used incorrectly, the procedure is ineffective. The failure rate is rather high, around 25%. 
  4. This approach does not provide protection from STDs.
Example 6 ovu cycles
Example: using 6 cycles to determine the ovulation window

2. Withdrawal Method: 

This is a family planning method where the man withdraws the penis entirely from the vagina shortly before he ejaculates during intercourse. here, there is no contact between the sperm cells and that of the woman’s egg. This method is commonly found in developing places like Nigeria.

For this to work, it largely depends on the man’s ability to withdraw the penis at the appropriate time. 

The Advantages  of this method include 

  1. It’s immediately available, 
  2. There is no use of any devices, 
  3. Available at no cost, 
  4. No chemical involvement, and 
  5. In theory, been said to reduced risk of transmission of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). 

The Disadvantages of Withdrawal Method – 

  • When used incorrectly or inconsistently, the risk of pregnancy is significant, between 4%-22%

3. Breast Feeding (fertility Suppression Period):

This family planning method works because there is reduction or total inability conceive by the woman during the first 6 months on average following child birth , because this period, the woman is neither menstruating nor ovulating, this is called – lactational amenorrhea or Breastfeeding Infertility. This period, she can engage in as much sexual intercourse as possible without getting pregnant. 

How long this period of suppressed fertility varies and is affected by how long the woman breastfeeds per day and how long from the time of birth. 

For this method to work –

  1. Baby must be breastfed every 4 hours or less during the day and every 6 hour or less during the night. 
  2. No use of baby food supplements or formula, 
  3. No return to menses, and 
  4. The baby must be under the age of six months.

The perfect-use failure rate within the first 6 months is 0.5%. The typical-use failure rate within the first 6 months is 2%.

Advantages

  1. Helps the womb to contract and in-volutes faster, close to its original size.
  2. There is absence of menses
  3. This method can be used immediately after delivery.
  4. This approach makes it easier to lose weight after giving birth.

Disadvantages

  1. The woman may not know when she regains her fertility, i.e., the fertility suppression is over.
  2. Breastfeeding on a regular basis might be inconvenient. 
  3. For  the mothers infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), this procedure is not helpful for them. 
  4. The failure rate of this method is between 0.5% – 2% when used with the first 6 months of childbirth.

Sources:

https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/258507-overview

https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/contraception/index.htm