WHAT IS FAMILY PLANNING?
Family planning is a process which allows people, couples or partners to decide on their desired number of children and also to determine the spacing of each pregnancies. It could be achieved through use of contraceptive methods and the treatment of infertility. Family planning is important in order to securing the well-being and autonomy of the woman, while supporting the health and development of her community. Research has shown that Family planning is very beneficial and essential in family health and well-being. Some benefits include;
1. Prevention against pregnancy related health risks in women: Research has show that a woman’s ability to choose if and when to become pregnant has a great impact on her well-being and health. Research also shows that women who have four or more children are at increased risk of maternal mortality.Family planning therefore allows spacing of pregnancies. The process of delaying pregnancies in young women can reduce therisk of health problems, death from early childbearing and prevents unintended pregnancies
2. Reducing population bloom: Researche has shown that family planning is one of the ways used to control or slow anunsustainable population growth which will have a negative impact and effects on the environment, economy, and national and regional development efforts.
3. Empowerment and education: Family planning creates an opportunity for women to pursue additional education and participation in public events, including paid employment in anyorganization of choice. Also, having a small family allows parents to invest more in each child. Researchers recommend that children have fewer siblings because they tend to stay in school longer than those with many siblings.
4. Prevention against Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs):
Family planning helps in reducing the risk of undesiredpregnancies among women living with diseases such as HIV, it also results to fewer infected babies and orphans. In addition, male and female condoms provide dual protection against undesiredpregnancies and against STIs including HIV, gonorrhea, staphylococcus etc.
5. Reducing teenage and unwanted pregnancies: Pregnant teenagers are more vulnerable to experience low birth-weight babies. This means that Babies born to teenagers have higher rates of neonatal mortality. Many teenage girls who become pregnant have to leave school and abandoning formal education. This possess long-term negative implications for them as individuals, their communities and families.
WHAT ARE FAMILY PLANNING METHODS?
The family planning methods we will discuss about are; natural, traditional, there are others methods such as modern (artificial) methods uses for family planning.
1. NATURAL FAMILY PLANNING METHOD: This method makes use of the body’s natural physiological changes and symptoms, to identify the infertile and fertile phases of the menstrual cycle. Such methods are also known as fertility-based awareness methods. These method requires the couple’scooperation and concentration for it to be effective. It depends on the awareness of the couple and also the ability of the couple to identify the fertile and infertile phase of each menstrual cycle. Italso requires cooperation of the couple to abstain from, or undergo, sexual intercourse, depending on whether they are trying to attain or avoid pregnancy. It becomes less effective for couples who do not follow the method carefully.
The major merit of this family planning method is the preference of women who do not wish to use artificial methods of contraception for different reasons such as religion, rumours,myths and especially fear of other methods. Its demerits include; it is unreliability in preventing unwanted pregnancy, it also takes time to practise and make use of properly, it doesn’t offer protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such asthe human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
Some of the process used in natural family planning method include periodic abstinence also know as fertility awareness,method, the use of breastfeeding or lactational amenorrhoea method (LAM), coitus interruptus also known as withdrawal or pulling out method.
2. TRADITIONAL FAMILY PLANNING METHOD:
Before the discovery of modern family planning methods, Africans havesome methods of fertility regulation. Its process includes many myths rituals, and the use of natural herbs in attempts to regulate a woman’s fertility. Although, some of these traditional methods of family planning does not possess harmful effects on a woman’s health. However, some do have dangerous or unproductive effects and its complete effectiveness remains unproven and highlydoubtful.
The traditional methods of contraception entails the lactational amenorrhea method, coitus interruptus also known as withdrawalmethod, cervical mucus method, calendar method or rhythmmethod and abstinence. Other form of traditional contraceptive methods could be customs or beliefs which include some rituals and use of traditional medicine and herbs.
1. Lactational amenorrhoea method (LAM):
This processinvolves the use of breastfeeding as a contraceptive method. Lactation means breastfeeding while amenorrhoea implies not having monthly bleeding. There may be a delay in ovulation caused by the action of prolactin hormone to stimulate breast milk production from the effect of lactation or breastfeeding which causes the secretion of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). While women are exclusively breastfeeding, prolactin continues to be secreted and pregnancy is very unlikely until prolactin levels decrease, then the woman’s monthly bleeding will return.
2. Coitus interruptus or withdrawal method:
It is a commontraditional family planning method in which the man withdraws or pulls out his penis from his partner’s vagina and ejaculates outside, keeping semen away from the genitalia of the woman.
3. Cervical mucus method (or Billings method):
This process isbased on the recognition of changes in cervical mucus and sensations in the vagina and its interpretation, caused by the changes in oestrogen levels during the menstrual cycle.
4. Calendar or rhythm method:
This method is the most commonly used of all the periodic abstinence techniques. It is a calculation-based process where the previous menstrual cycles are used to predict the first and the last fertile day in future menstrual cycles. It also requires a good understanding of the fertile and infertile phases of the woman’s menstrual cycle and is based mostly on the regularity of the menstrual cycle and that an ovum (egg) could only be fertilised within 24 hours of ovulation.
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN TRADITIONAL AND NATURAL FAMILY PLANNING METHOD
Our findings from the above information on this article has shown us that traditional family planning and natural family planningboth involve the same methods and techniques. And although, there are speculation that the application or use of natural herbs and medicines, traditional rituals, customs and beliefs may be the difference between the two concepts.