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Family Planning – What Dads and Moms Need to Know

Author GreatDad Writers
Submitted 12-05-2008

If you are about to start a family with your spouse, you will often hear about “family planning”. But what really does it mean? Family planning is often understood as prevention of pregnancy. However, it is more than just that.

What Family Planning Really Means

Family planning refers to:

  • Deciding how many children you will have
  • Planning when to have a child and the time interval between children
  • Selecting suitable birth control methods to prevent pregnancy

What Family Planning Does NOT Mean

Due to lack of information on family planning, many couples may make decisions that can haunt them for life. Here is what you should know about family planning:

Family Planning is NOT a one-man show

Family planning is a joint decision between the husband and wife. It is important to make informed decisions based on your as well as your spouse’s needs. For this, couples should work toward developing an open communication channel between both partners with consideration for each other’s feelings and desires.

  • Talk about your desires and aspirations.
  • Listen to your partner to understand his or her needs.
  • Build trust by respecting your partner’s feelings and accepting differences in opinion.

It is also important to speak to a family planning counselor who can guide you and your spouse through the various birth control options available and help you evaluate the pros and cons of each.

Family planning decisions are NOT universal

Each couple is different and has different needs. What may be right for you may not be right for another couple. Your family planning decisions may depend on several factors, including personal finances, health issues, and the time you and your spouse can devote for your future children.

Family planning is NOT only about abstinence

One reason many couples opt out of family planning is because they believe it involves refraining from sex. While abstinence is one of the best birth control methods, there are many other options that you can use and still enjoy a satisfying sex life.

Here are some common birth control methods and their effectiveness (according to the Family Planning Council).

Birth Control Method Effectiveness or Chances of NOT Getting Pregnant
Condoms (for males and females) 86% – 97% for male condoms79% – 95% for female condoms


Diaphragm  80% – 94% during first year of use
Emergency contraceptive pills 74% – 89%
Injections (Depo-Provera)  99% 
Oral contraceptive pills  95% – 99% 
Contraceptive implants (Implanon)  95% 
Contraceptive rings (NuvaRing)  99% 
Contraceptive patches (Ortho Evra)  95% – 99% 
Intrauterine devices  98% – 99% 
Cervical caps 60% – 90% 
Female sterilization  99% 
Vasectomy (male sterilization)  99% 
Synthetic hormones (Norplant)  95% – 99% 
Vaginal spermicides 50% – 95% 
Withdrawal 4% – 19% 

Source: Family Planning Council

Remember, each of the above methods has its advantages and disadvantages. Some of the methods are irreversible and may prevent pregnancy forever. Carefully research your options well and speak to a medical expert before you make the final decision.