Simply put, family planning means the practice of controlling the number of children in a family as well as the interval of time between their births. The tools used in family planning are primarily various forms of contraception. The benefits of family planning are that it improves the health of infants, children and mothers, and families. For many poor families, the family planning clinic is their entry point into the health care system. Publicly funded family planning clinics helped prevent 1.9 million unintended pregnancies in 2015. For each public dollar spent on family planning, $7.09 was saved in federal and state dollars.
Family planning includes more than just contraception, but actually, describes a broad spectrum of women's health care. Some other services included in family planning are:
- Pregnancy testing
- Pregnancy counseling, including pre-pregnancy planning
- Fertility Services
- Breast and Pelvic Exams
- Breast and Cervical Cancer Screenings
Abstinence, of course, is the only 100 percent effective way to prevent unwanted pregnancy. In sexually active people, consistent use of a good form of contraception is very effective at preventing accidental pregnancy. The most effective methods of birth control include:
- Intrauterine devices (IUDs) – A small device that is inserted into the uterus. It is long-term, reversible, and since it is 99 percent effective, it is one of the best methods.
- Contraceptive implants – These are small thin rods, about the size of a matchstick, that are implanted into the back of the upper arm. While in place, they release hormones into the body that prevent pregnancy. They last for up to four years and are 99 percent effective.
- The pill – This is simply a pill that is taken each day to prevent pregnancy. It is effective but must be taken each day. They are about 91 percent effective.
- The patch – This method is a patch that is placed on the skin. It is effective if used properly and changed at the proper times. The patch is not as effective for overweight individuals. Some medications, such as certain antibiotics and St. John's Wort, can interfere with the patch. The patch is 91 percent effective.
- The ring – When used correctly, the ring is 91 percent effective. Care must be taken to put in a new ring on the right day of each month. If done perfectly, the ring can be 99% effective, but in practice, about nine out of 10 users will become pregnant each year.
- Condoms are about 85 percent effective, but they can protect users from sexually transmitted diseases. Men, as well as women, should be counseled about using condoms during every act of sexual intercourse unless they are in a long-term monogamous relationship.
Top 5 Routes for "Family Planning"
- National Center for Biotechnology Information This link gives an overview of a Health and Human Services publication on family planning. Here one can also download a pdf of the complete publication.
- Guttmacher Institute A resource for information on publicly funded family planning services. This is also a resource for research on where public assistance is available for family planning.
- The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) Provides information on the US Government's efforts on family planning worldwide. The page also includes some facts and information about the worldwide family planning and reproductive health efforts.
- Title X Family Planning The Health and Human Services web page for Title X program. Title X funds family planning clinics which provide a wide range of family planning and preventive health services.
- HealthyPeople.gov This article gives a good general overview of family planning. It also provides an extensive list of resources for further research.
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