AN estimated 222 million women in developing countries would like to delay or stop childbearing, but are not using any method of contraception. The promotion of family planning and ensuring access to preferred contraceptive methods for you and your partner is empowering and gives you a choice, while family planning reduces pregnancy and is achieved through the use of a variety of contraceptive methods.
BENEFITS OF FAMILY PLANNING
Family planning reinforces your rights to determine the number and spacing of your children and reduces the need for unsafe abortions. Back in the day traditional methods were the trusted and relied methods of contraception, however, they came with great limitations, uncertainty and unreliability. Many tested conventional methods of family planning are now available, which are more reliable and accurate, thus allowing you to plan your family size and be in control. It is important to note that many of the methods can only be obtained with the help of a doctor, pharmacist or professional nurse and you will be advised on the most suitable method. The doctor will assess your current health status, family history and possible risks and make an informed recommendation on the method of contraception. The number of contraception methods have increased drastically with the most recent one being the subdermal implant, which is a device that is implanted under the skin on your inner upper arm and remains active for three years. It's provided in all public health facilities free of charge to any woman, regardless of her socio-economic status.
METHODS OF CONTRACEPTION
The are various methods of contraception:
¦ Long-acting reversible contraception, such as an implant or an intrauterine device (IUD)
¦ Hormonal contraception such as contraceptive pills, injection and patch
¦ Barrier methods such as condoms and diaphragms
¦ Traditional method (natural family planning)
¦ Sterilisation These methods work by:
¦ Preventing an egg from being released every month (hormones)
¦ Preventing sperm from reaching the egg (barrier method)
¦ Blocking the reproductive function in men or women (sterilisation)
¦ Preventing a fertilised egg from implanting in the uterus (hormones)
COMMONLY USED METHODS
¦ Pill and condom - The most commonly used contraceptive method is the pill and condom, which are 95 to 99 percent effective if the pill is taken correctly daily as prescribed by the doctor and the condom is used properly. There are two types of pills, the one contains the hormones oestrogen and progestin, while the other only contains progestin. The pill that contains progestin needs to be strictly adhered to and taken at the same time daily. If you miss three hours, then take extra precaution by using a condom. It is important to note that the pill doesn’t protect against sexually transmitted diseases.
¦ Intrauterine device (IUD) - The IUD can be used longterm as they are inserted inside your private parts by your doctor and can last up to five years. It is reversible.
¦ Injection -These also contain hormones like the pill and last for a period of eight to 12 weeks and are about 99 percent effective.
¦ Patch - This must be worn for three weeks and taken off on the fourth week to allow for your menstrual cycle. All caution must be taken to ensure it does not come off, thus reducing its effieciency. But if it does come off, take extra precaution and consult your health practitioner.
¦ Sterilisation -This is an option available for both men and women. For men, it is called a vasectomy, which is a simple procedure of tying and cutting the tubes that carry sperm. For women, you have the option of a surgical or non-surgical procedure. The surgical procedure is known as tubal litigation and requires tying or cutting of the Fallopian tubes and its effects are permanent, so you must be very sure of your decision. The non-surgical procedure consists of placing a coil in each Fallopian tube through yor private part and uterus so that scars appear in the Fallopian tubes and eventually block each tube completely. The scars might take a period of 12 weeks to form and completely block the tubes, therefore your health practitioner will advice of another method to use until you are safe.
¦ Natural family planning - This relies purely on you knowing your menstrual cycle and sex should be avoided when you are fertile. The effectiveness of this type of contraception is low, about 75 percent due to the fact that most women do not have a perfectly regular menstrual cycle.
There is no contraception method that offers 100 percent protection against pregnancy. Abstinence is the only contraception method that is 100 percent effective. This is because there is always a risk that an accident can happen such as forgetting to take the pill on time or the condom rupturing. You need to be careful and consistent with your contraception method because our bodies are completely different and we will react differently to the various methods. Seek professional medical advice to clarify any issue you might have or if you are experiencing side-effects from any contraceptive.