Family Planning Methods

Whether you are planning to have kids or not, you will at some point want to know more about family planning methods. This will help you either space out the kids you plan on having or avoid having children. If you want children and cannot seem to get pregnant, family planning can help lead you to infertility treatments. If you don’t want children at a certain point in time, it can give you methods of birth control that work best for you and your lifestyle. This article will help you learn more about family planning and making good choices for your reproductive health.

What Family Planning Methods Are Available?

There are several options available depending on what you need to fit your lifestyle and health status. Keep in mind that some methods are permanent, while others are not 100% effective. This is something to think about when deciding on one of the following methods:

Abstinence from Sexual Intercourse

This method requires abstinence from any sexual relations with a partner of the opposite sex.The only way that truly is 100% effective is to avoid penis contact with the vaginal opening. You can choose to have other forms of sexual activity such asoral sex, mutual masturbation, etc.

Advantages and disadvantages: Being the most effective one among the various family planning methods, its advantages are many, including no need to see a doctor, reduced risk of STD exposure, no medication sideeffects, and it’s free. Disadvantages are minimal, but relationship parameters need to be clearly defined with your partner. One may feel pressured into having sexual intercourse and would need to have back-up contraception available if needed.

Birth Control Pills

Birth control pills alter the body’s hormone levels to prevent pregnancy.The pills contain estrogen and progesterone in amounts that mimic pregnancy by preventing ovulation and if ovulation occurs, preventing implantation. They can have mild sideeffects including: nausea, weight gain, and sore breasts. An “active” pill is taken for 28 days, then “inactive” pills are taken for 7 days to allow a period to occur. This method is 99.9% effective if you take the pills every day and on time.

Advantages and disadvantages: Advantages include no messy creams or interruptions, may help acne outbreaks, and many others. Disadvantages includemay cause blot clots in some women, side effects of hormones, and spotting mid-cycle.


This is a permanent method of birth control that prevents pregnancy.The tubes that carry the products of reproduction are cut and tied off. In females, the fallopian tubes are cut and tied (tubal ligation). In males, the vas deferens is cut and the ends cauterized (vasectomy). It is almost 100% effective. There are a few unexpected pregnancies or about 3 out of 1,000 procedures.

Advantages and disadvantages: Advantages include nothing to worry about, no pills, no condoms, and no mess. Disadvantages include it’s permanent, although reversible. It is a surgical procedure so it carries certain risks.


Condoms are made from a thin rubber that forms a sheath over the penis to contain the spermfrom escaping into the vagina. They come in a small foil pouch and are coated with a light lubricant, and are rolled on to cover the penis. Choosing condoms as family planning methods has 86% to 97% effectiveness rate when used correctly. Condoms can accidentally slip off if they are not applied properly or have a poor fit.

Advantages and disadvantages: The advantages of using a condom include low cost, no need for doctor’s visits and prescriptions, helps prevent STDs, and you can stop using them when you are ready for a baby. Disadvantages include possible latex allergies, and the condom needs to be changed with every sex encounter.

The Withdrawal Method

This method requires the male to removes his penis just before ejaculation happens and ejaculates into a towel placed by the bedside. It prevents the sperm from entering the vaginal canal.Depending on how skilled the male is in removing his penis in time, the effectiveness ranges from 81% to 96%.

Advantages and disadvantages: Advantages include no condoms to wrestle with, no medication sideeffects, better spontaneity, and free of charge. Disadvantages include the scene can be messy, decrease in pleasure, accidental ejaculation, and risk of STDs.


This is a cup placed over the cervix to prevent sperm from entering the uterus.Some women also use a spermicidal jelly inside the cup for extra protection.With two fingers it is inserted into the vagina and then pushed into place. Its effectiveness is around 94% when used properly with spermicide. Without spermicide it averages 71% to 86% effective.

Advantages and disadvantages: Advantages include it doesn’t interfere if you are nursing a baby, it transports well with you and doesn’t affect hormone levels, and can be discontinued at any time. As one of the family planning methods, its disadvantages include spermicide can be a bit messy, if you don’t place before sex, you may have to interrupt the moment, and it can get knocked out of place.

Natural Family Planning Method

Natural family planning methods are quite popular with religious and cultural groups that do not believe in using medical forms of birth control. You do it by monitoring the days of your menstrual cycle and only have intercourse on the least fertile days. You will need an ovulation chart and a basal thermometer. You take your temperature every day of the month to calculate ovulation, and avoid having sexual intercourse in the 3-7 days around ovulation time. This method has a 95% to 98% effective rate if you use it properly. You cannot miss a day taking your temperature and need to really know signs of ovulation or the effective rate drops down to 75% to 88%.

Where Can I Get Family Planning?

You can discuss options and obtain any of the family planning methods mentioned above at your community health clinic, gynecologist office, and family planning centers. Some community health departments offer education to couples on family planning and can refer to doctors or clinics to help.