Family Planning is an essential component of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR). As per the World Health Organisation (WHO), ‘Access to safe, voluntary family planning is a human right. Family planning is central to gender equality and women’s empowerment.’ To enable as many people as possible to access their right to opt for Family Planning methods, Family Planning Association of India (FPA India) answers a few Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).
If you wish to ask some questions, feel free to leave them in the comments section below.
[Source for answers: Education in Human Sexuality – A Sourcebook for Educators, Third Edition. By Late. Ms. Dhun Panthaki.
Family Planning: A Global Handbook for Providers, 2018 Edition.]
FAQs and Responses:
1. What is Family Planning?
Answer: Family planning is a right of all people to determine whether and when they have children, how many, and with whom. It allows people to attain their desired number of children and determine the spacing of pregnancies. Family Planning is a broad concept and goes beyond merely ‘avoiding having children’. It includes the following:
- Regulating and spacing childbirths
- Choosing suitable methods of contraception
- Helping childless couples to conceive
- Counselling parents and would-be parents
2. What are the advantages of family planning?
Answer: Family planning is achieved through the use of contraceptive methods and the treatment of infertility. It aims at improving the quality of life by regulating the family size so that the couple can have a child when they are physically, emotionally, and even economically ready to have one, if they wish to. It is important to ensure that the offspring also gets the necessary time and resources from the parents, where parents are able to afford to raise the children and give them adequate nutrition and education. Planning a family can ensure that all the members in it have adequate time, energy, and resources.
With a minimum gap of two years kept between consecutive pregnancies, the mother gets a time to recover the strength after the first pregnancy, healthier babies with better immunity, both parents find time for each other to strengthen their relationship and time to plan for and ensure that the next child gets the required resources as well.
3. How effective are the different methods of contraception and which is the best method?
Answer: Modern methods of contraception are essential to ensure sexual health and well-being. A contraceptive method is a device or drug used to prevent conception and pregnancy. Using modern methods of contraception can ensure more chances of avoiding pregnancy, as compared to traditional/natural methods. HIV/STIs can be prevented with the use of condoms.
The function of Modern Methods of Contraception:
- Prevent ovulation (formation of egg) in the female body
- Prevent sperms from meeting with or fertilising the egg
- Preventing fertilised eggs from settling in the lining of the uterus
How effective they are, when used correctly and consistently:
- Barrier methods such as male or female condoms – 95%
- Combined Oral Contraceptives (COC) – almost 100%
- Progestogen-Only Pills (POP)/ Mini-pill – 99%
- Injectable contraceptives – 97-99%
- Combined Patch – 92-99%
- Intrauterine Devices (IUDs) – 96-99%
- Implants – 99.9%
- Permanent methods (Vasectomy and Tubectomy) – 98-99.9%
4. What are benefits/risks of oral contraceptives?
Answer: For Combine Oral Contraceptives (COC) / Progestogen-Only Pills (POP) – A woman can start taking these as per the doctor’s prescription if she is certain that she is not pregnant.
- They are easy and convenient to use
- Does not interfere with sex
- Very effective if taken regularly
- Monthly menstrual cycles are regular, with reduced bleeding and pain
- Can be discontinued when a pregnancy is desired
- While POPs can be taken whilst breastfeeding, it is advisable to not take COCs during the breastfeeding phase
- May not work as effectively if not taken daily
- Rare cases of slight headache, giddiness, nausea initially
- Does not protect against HIV and other STIs
5. Will using oral contraceptives have an effect on my chances of conceiving in the future?
Answer: When Oral Contraceptive (OC) Pills are taken daily as prescribed by a qualified medical practitioner, the woman does not tend to conceive. Women who stop using OC pills can become pregnant quickly as possible. The day taking OC pill is stopped or is delayed by more than 12 hours, the woman’s chances of conceiving go back to normal.
6. Is it alright for unmarried women to use IUDs?
Answer: Intrauterine Devices (IUDs) are safe and suitable for women of any age (including adolescents and women over 40 years of age), women who have just had an abortion or miscarriage, breastfeeding women, women doing hard physical labour, women who have had children and those who have not, women having vaginal infections, Pelvic Inflammatory Diseases (PID), or anaemia. IUDs are very effective and private (nobody can tell if someone is using it). IUDs have no further costs once inserted and the user is not required to do anything after insertion.
7. Which is the best family planning method for an HIV/AIDS infected individual?
Answer: Use of condoms is best advised for safe sex, so to prevent the transfer of HIV/AIDS or Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs). Other family planning methods could be used for preventing a pregnancy, only after appropriate consultation from and counselling by a certified medical doctor. The method will also highly depend upon the severity of the virus and its implicating infections.
Family planning is a human right and anyone can access it. Access to high-quality, affordable sexual and reproductive health services and information, including a full range of contraceptive methods, is fundamental to realising the rights and well-being of women and girls, men and boys. FPA India gives you an opportunity to access Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) care, including Family Planning.
If you’ve got questions, leave them in the comments below so that we can answer them, too!