Family planning helps a woman choose when to have a baby (or not to have one at all). This can be done many ways, but some common options are birth control methods such as pills and IUDs. Even common items such as condoms are a form of family planning because they help you to not get pregnant if you don’t want to. Women use family planning to make sure pregnancy happens when they want it to happen.
An important part of family planning is spacing out births. It is best to wait at least 18 months (1.5 years) between having babies to give your body time to heal. Spacing out births can help you have healthier and safer pregnancies and births.
If you think you might want to try family planning, it’s important to know all of the options that are available. There are long term options like an IUD (intrauterine device), which is a small device that is put into your uterus to prevent pregnancy. There are two types: copper and hormonal. These are both good, safe options if you know you don’t want to be pregnant for a while (3 years or more). If you don’t want hormonal birth control, the copper IUD is a good option. If you decide that you do want to have a baby, a doctor or a nurse can easily remove the IUD for you.
Another long term birth control method is a Nexplanon implant. This is a small rod that your provider inserts into your arm. It releases hormones into your body that protect you from pregnancy for up to five years. If you decide you want to get pregnant before the five years is up, your provider can take the implant out and you will be able to conceive normally.
If you do not want to use one of these long term methods, you can also try birth control pills. There are many options to choose from, so you can work with your provider to find the one that works best for you. These pills use hormones to stop ovulation, so the sperm can’t find an egg to attach to. You need to take these pills everyday for them to work, so you can set a reminder on your phone or write it in your calendar to stay on track. You can stop taking these pills when you decide you want to become pregnant. Despite some myths, research shows that birth control pills do not make you less fertile.
While there are a lot of options available, you shouldn’t feel pressured to use any of them if they are not for you. Different methods of birth control affect each woman differently, so your friend or family member’s experience with one method might not be the same for you. You can talk to your provider to discuss details like health insurance coverage and side effects. You can use this tool to get a deeper look into the various types of birth control and how they compare to each other. If you are interested in family planning, having a conversation with your healthcare provider can help you find the option that’s best for you and your family.