What is family planning?
Sexual and reproductive health
What is family planning?
Family planning is the information, means and methods that allow individuals to decide if and when to have children. This includes a wide range of contraceptives – including pills, implants, intrauterine devices, surgical procedures that limit fertility, and barrier methods such as condoms – as well as non-invasive methods such as the calendar method and abstinence. Family planning also includes information about how to become pregnant when it is desirable, as well as treatment of infertility.
As policymakers seek to eliminate poverty and uphold human rights and dignity, they cannot afford to ignore one essential ingredient for sustainable development: voluntary family planning.

Family planning saves lives. It enables couples to choose whether and when to have children. It preserves women’s and girls’ health, and empowers them to pursue education and work. It boosts their ability to save, contribute to the economy, and invest in the health and education of their children. In sum, family planning enriches communities and strengthens economies.

Yet there are an estimated 214 million women in developing countries who have an unmet need for modern contraceptives.

Family planning saves lives
Contraceptives prevent unintended pregnancies, reduce the number of abortions, and lower the incidence of death and disability related to complications of pregnancy and childbirth. If all women in developing regions with an unmet need for contraceptives were able to use modern methods, an additional 36 million abortions and 76,000 maternal deaths would be prevented every year.
Additionally, male and female condoms, when used correctly and consistently, provide dual protection against both unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV.

Increasing access to modern contraception among adolescent girls is a crucial starting point for improving their long-term health. It is also essential for improving maternal and newborn health: Around the world, complications from pregnancy and childbirth the leading killer of adolescent girls (ages 15-19). Their babies also face a higher risk of dying than the babies of older women. Yet adolescents face enormous barriers to accessing reproductive health information and services.

Family planning empowers women
Access to contraceptive information is central to achieving gender equality. When women and couples are empowered to plan whether and when to have children, women are better enabled to complete their education; women’s autonomy within their households is increased; and their earning power is improved. This strengthens their economic security and well-being and that of their families.
Cumulatively, these benefits contribute to poverty reduction and development.

Family planning brings economic benefits
There are clear economic benefits to investing in family planning. For every additional dollar that is invested in contraception, the cost of pregnancy-related care will be reduced by $2.20. In terms of socioeconomic benefits, achieving universal access to quality sexual and reproductive health services is estimated to yield returns of $120 for every dollar invested.

Family planning can also help countries realize a ‘demographic dividend’, a boost in economic productivity that occurs when there are growing numbers of people in the workforce and falling numbers of dependents

Overcoming barriers to family planning
Common reasons why women do not use contraceptives include logistical problems, such as difficulty travelling to health facilities or supplies running out at health clinics. Reasons also include social barriers, such as opposition by partners, families or communities. Lack of knowledge also plays a role, with many women not understanding that they are able to becoming pregnant, not knowing what contraceptive methods are available, or having incorrect perceptions about the health risks of modern methods.
There are a number of challenges to improving access to family planning information and services. Efforts to increase access must be sensitive to cultural and national contexts, and must consider economic, geographic and age disparities within countries.
Poorer women and those in rural areas often have less access to family planning services. Certain groups – including adolescents, unmarried people, the urban poor, rural populations, sex workers and people living with HIV – also face a variety of barriers to family planning. This can lead to higher rates of unintended pregnancy, increased risk of HIV and other STIs, limited choice of contraceptive methods, and higher levels of unmet need for family planning. Particular attention must be paid to promoting their reproductive rights, access to family planning, and other sexual and reproductive health services

Source: UNFPA
2019-01-29 17:11:42