Family planning means that a woman, alone or in conjunction with her husband or partner, decides when she will have children and how many.

When a couple is serious about family planning it allows them to have the number of children that they desire and space them accordingly as well as time the births. Of course, this isn’t an exact science. A woman may end up with twins instead of a singleton or she may not get pregnant when she wants to and that messes up the timing or spacing but there are still numerous advantages to family planning.

When a woman can space her pregnancies, this is better for her physical and mental health and the health of her infants.

Other benefits of family planning include the reduction of abortions, particularly those that are done under treacherous circumstances. Unsafe abortions are accountable for 13 percent of the world maternal mortality rate. The prevention of sexually transmitted diseases is also a benefit of family planning. 

Barriers to Contraception

It is the right of every woman to decide how many children she wants and how far apart she wants them born. Of course, there are millions of women in developing countries that have no access to contraception and, as a result, are having far too many babies that they can not properly care for.

Additionally, there are religious and cultural reasons why women don’t have access to contraction and many times there are gender-based obstacles that prevent women from having access to birth control.

Adolescent Mothers Are At Risk As Are Their Babies

When a very young woman becomes sexually active, if she uses a contraceptive this prevents pregnancy. Young women are at a higher risk for pregnancy–related health complications as well as have a higher maternal death rate than older women.

Pregnant adolescent girls are apt to have low birth weight infants or preterm babies. A preterm baby is one that is born prematurely. Adolescent girls don’t always get medical care during their pregnancies. They may not eat properly or take vitamins and they may engage in risky behaviors that can harm the fetus.  Infants that have adolescent mothers are at higher risk for neonatal mortality (death.)

When babies are born too closely this contributes to the infant mortality rate. Sometimes mothers die during child-birth or soon thereafter because they were too weak to endure yet another birth. This puts the surviving baby at risk for poor health and even death.


There are various kinds of contraceptives including oral contraceptives (the pill), which prevents the egg from being released from the ovaries. This pill contains both estrogen and progesterone and this type of birth control is 99 percent effective if used correctly and consistently.

Another kind of oral (pill) contraceptive contains only progesterone and no estrogen. It is considered the mini-pill. It works by making the cervical mucous thick so that it blocks the egg and sperm from meeting. It also halts ovulation.

There is the birth control implant, which is another option. If a woman chooses this method a match-stick sized rod is inserted into her arm. The hormone progestin is released and this prevents pregnancy because the egg is not released from the ovaries. In addition, the implant thickens cervical mucus, which prevents sperm from connecting with the egg.

Women can also chose the Depro Provera shot; use a birth control sponge or the NuvaRing (vagina ring); the cervical cap; diaphragm; condom; female condom; the IUD; fertility awareness based methods (FAMs); spermicidal; the morning after pill, which is emergency contraception; withdrawal; outercourse (no sexual penetration) and sterilization. These are all forms of contraception that help a woman plan her family.

Of course, abstinence, which means refraining from sex, altogether, works best.

Daylan Jones researches and writes on topics related to sperm donors, artificial insemination, and donor sperm banks for Cryobank.