What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Family Planning?

Family planning allows women to determine when they want to get pregnant and provides some health benefits 34. Women -- and couples who make joint decisions -- can use birth control to avoid pregnancy until they're ready to conceive and can plan intervals between pregnancies. The major disadvantages to family planning include the side effects associated with some types of birth control. Also, other than abstinence, there's no 100 percent guarantee that pregnancy won't occur.

Advantage: Reduced Risk of Pregnancy

For women and couples who don't want to have a baby, family planning reduces the risk of pregnancy. For example, when used correctly, birth control pills are over 99 percent effective and condoms are 98 percent effective at avoiding pregnancy, according to Planned Parenthood 1. Family planning decreases the number of pregnancies for teens and for people who can't afford to care for a baby, according to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources 34.

Advantage: Birth Control Health Benefits for Women and Men

Some forms of family planning that involve birth control provide health benefits to women 34. For example, birth control pills, vaginal hormonal rings and hormone patches make menstrual cycles more regular and decrease menstrual cramps. They also decrease the likelihood that a woman will get ovarian and uterine cancer, pelvic inflammatory disease, ovarian cysts and anemia, according to The Center for Young Women's Health 2. Also, the use of male and female condoms lowers the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases.

Advantage: Intervals Between Pregnancies

Family planning makes it easier for couples to create desired intervals between pregnancies. For example, a couple might want to wait to have their second child until their first child starts kindergarten or until they can afford to relocate to a bigger house. It also ensures that a woman's body has sufficient time to recover before another pregnancy.

Disadvantage: Birth Control Health Risks

Some forms of birth control pose health concerns for women and men, such as allergies to spermicides or latex. For some women, oral contraceptives can lead to hair loss and weight gain, and the use of diaphragms can lead to urinary tract infections. Women should provide a complete medical history when consulting their doctors about birth control methods for family planning purposes to reduce the chance of health problems 4.

Disadvantage: Possibility of Pregnancy

Family planning methods aren't 100 percent reliable. Other than abstinence, there's no birth control method, including the natural rhythm method, that's completely effective. As a result, couples may feel disappointed if they get pregnant unexpectedly. Couples who are engaging in sexual activity should always consider the possibility of an unexpected pregnancy.

Disadvantage: Pregnancy After Birth Control

Women who stop taking birth control pills or quit getting birth-control hormone injections might not be able to conceive immediately 5. In some cases, it could take months to conceive, depending on the regularity of a woman's menstrual cycle. As a result, couples should be flexible and understand that pregnancy isn't always predictable.