Throughout most of history, women and couples had to rely solely on prayer and luck for family planning. Some couples who desired children were not able to have them. Other couples desired fewer children or pregnancies that were spaced farther apart, but they also had trouble accomplishing this goal. Until the 20th century, the only reliable way to prevent or space out pregnancies was abstinence. Fortunately, modern times has given us many more family planning options.
Identification: The term family planning is often used as a synonym for birth control, but family planning does not only involve contraception. Family planning involves planning your child’s birth for specific times as well as planning for a child when you are having challenges conceiving one.
- Family planning is important for the health and well being of the mother and the children. Family planning also allows for families to take into account their economic situation when deciding how many children they may want to have. According to the United States Agency for International Development, having children more than five or less than two years apart can cause both a mother and her children serious health consequences. The financial consequences of having children involve the medical costs of pregnancy and birth as well as the high costs associated with bringing up children. Since parents are responsible for providing education, shelter, clothing, and food for their children, family planning has an important long-term impact on the financial situation of any family.
- Family planning includes contraceptives, sexual education, and natural family planning techniques. Contraceptives include barrier methods like diaphragms, condoms, and hormonal birth control. It can also include surgeries (hysterectomies for women or vasectomies for men) or intrauterine devices that are worn inside a woman’s vagina during intercourse. Sex education assists families by teaching youth how their reproductive systems function, how to use contraceptives, and the truth about pregnancy and birth control. Natural family planning techniques teach women and their sexual partners how to chart their fertility cycles. Couples can abstain from having sex or use a barrier protection method during fertile times to prevent pregnancies. Learning about a woman’s fertility cycles can also benefit couples that are having challenges with conceiving.
- The World Health Organization and other global and local organizations are actively seeking ways to increase the amount of information and access people have to contraception and resources related to family planning. This organization is particularly focusing on low-income communities and developing countries where family planning is less prevalent. Planned Parenthood is an organization that has locations around the U.S. that provide low-cost family planning services and sex education for low-income and uninsured patients.