What Are the Advantages & Disadvantages of Family Planning?

Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention between 1982 and 2008 indicate that 99 percent of American women aged 15 to 44 years old have used some form of contraceptive 1. These numbers are a testament to how Americans embrace family planning or birth control. Examples of family planning methods include the use of condoms, cervical caps, tubal litigation and birth control pills. While family planning methods offer several benefits to users, they also present a number of disadvantages.

Protection Against Health Complications

Family planning saves women from the health hazards of unplanned pregnancies or complications resulting from giving birth during vulnerable times. For example, teenage mothers are at a higher risk for anemia, placental complications and high blood pressure, while older mothers are at a higher risk of experiencing placental and bleeding problems. Family planning can also help reduce the number of women who die from complications related to childbirth and pregnancy. According to a report by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in 2012, family planning averts nearly 230 million unintended pregnancies each year and could save over 270,000 maternal deaths resulting from childbirth annually 2.

Socio-Economic Advantages

Adopting family planning methods offers various socio-economic advantages, such as time to complete an education and pursue a career to be able to support yourself and your family financially. A survey conducted by Guttmacher Research Institute in 2011 found that 63 percent of the over 2,000 female respondents believed that birth control had allowed them to take better care of their families; 56 percent of the respondents also reported that family planning had enabled them to plan their finances. Family planning also allows mothers and fathers to only have the number of children their income can accommodate; they are able to provide them with basic needs such as food, education and shelter without straining financially.

Sexual Complications

According to Epigee Women’s Health, an online educational resource for women on health matters, using birth control pills can reduce sexual drive 46. Also, some men and their partners complain that condoms reduce sexual sensitivity, and men who cannot consistently maintain an erection can find it difficult to use one. Some men are also uncomfortable with their partners using diaphragms or cervical caps during sexual encounters. In addition, women who undergo tubal litigation are more likely to see a doctor regarding sexual problems and have more cases of stress interfering with sex than those who do not undergo the procedure, according to a study published in "The "Journal of Reproductive Medicine" in 2007 5.

Side Effects

Various family planning methods cause different side effects. For example, birth control pills, implants and injections are not recommended for women who smoke or have health complications such as a history of heart disease or breast cancer 6. Hormonal forms of birth control also have a number of side effects and potential health risks such as:

  • vaginal bleeding
  • headaches
  • clinical depression
  • long periods
  • dizziness
  • clinical depression 6

Some men and women are also allergic to latex and spermicide in condoms. In addition, the use of diaphragms and cervical caps can expose women to urinary tract infections.

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