The other day I was asked to speak to a whatsapp group of young unmarried women from varied backgrounds on family planning, as the medic in the group. So I went in thinking okay I’ll just do a run-off-the-mill talk and be out in 30 minutes; I was looking at the topic from the angle of a medical student – after all, family planning is one of the simplest topics to study – how wrong was I! I ended up spending over an hour and 30 minutes on the topic and I didn’t even go into depth with so many statistics or anything; it just showed how naive so many people are on the topic – so I’m going to do a brief overview here for all to see.
Family planning can be simply defined as the practice of controlling the number of children in a family and the intervals between their births, particularly by means of artificial contraception or voluntary sterilization.
Let me break it down into two broad categories:
* Traditional Methods
* Artificial Methods.
Under the traditional methods, there are the common ones such as condoms (both male and female), and less known methods such as rhythm methods (when a woman knows when she’s at her fertile period via a slight increase in her basal body temperature or an increase in her cervical mucus thickness – she has to really know her body to be able to use this method).
Furthermore, there’s this tool called Cycle Beads, it’s used to help a woman calculate her fertile period based on her menstrual cycle (please see the image for information on how to use it).
Cycle beads are available at primary health care centers across the nation, or any centre that offers family planning services.
Less successful methods include the withdrawal method (coitus interruptus) which involves the male pulling out his penis prior to ejaculation, but as this requires a lot of control and timing on the male’s part, it is prone to failure.
Last but not least of this surface description of the traditional family planning methods is the abstinence method – which is the most successful for obvious reasons, and is advisable for unmarried singles to practice 🙂
Alright over to the Artificial Methods! There’s a wide array of methods ranging from oral contraceptive pills, injectables, implants and intrauterine devices to permanent methods such as tubal ligation of hysterectomy (removal of the uterus/womb).
Below is a gallery of the different methods, for more information on any of these methods feel free to drop a comment below and I’d be glad to help – I hope you’ve learnt something!
Please remember, this is just a surface write up on family planning, for more information please visit your nearest primary health care centre/GP so a health care provider can walk you through the different types in detail and help you choose the best method for you/your partner.
Also, family planning is not reserved for married individuals alone, though strong stereotypes may prevail in certain settings – you should feel safe to ask your healthcare provider for assistance whether you’re married or not.