Family Planning

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Family planning is the planning of when to have children, and the use of birth control and other techniques to implement such plans. Other techniques commonly used include sexuality education, prevention and management of sexually transmitted infections, pre-conception counseling and management, and infertility management. Family planning is sometimes used in the wrong way also as a synonym for the use of birth control, though it often includes more. It is most usually applied to a female-male couple who wish to limit the number of children they have and/or to control the timing of pregnancy (also known as spacing children). Family planning may encompass sterilization, as well as abortion. The Centers for Disease Control characterizes family planning as one of the top 10 public health achievements of the 20th century. In 1800, women had an average of 7 children; today women average 2.1 children. A woman is fertile for an average of 35 years of her life; if she has two children, she will spend about 30 years of her life avoiding pregnancy. Family planning information and services help individuals maintain their overall health and improve family and community health by supporting men and women to have children when their health, financial conditions, and personal situations are optimal. Access to family planning services is an important factor in planning for healthy pregnancies. An unintended pregnancy is one that is unwanted or mistimed at the time of conception. It does not mean an unwanted birth or an unloved child. It does mean that there is less opportunity for the parents to prepare physically and financially, take advantage of pre-pregnancy risk identification and management, and initiate needed changes in diet, exercise, smoking and drinking that help ensure a healthy pregnancy. For some, unintended pregnancies result in healthy children in happy families. For others there are negative health effects from late or inadequate prenatal care, low birth weight, fetal exposure to alcohol, tobacco smoke and other toxins, and maternal depression. Unintended pregnancies are also associated with economic hardship, marital dissolution, poor child health and development, spouse abuse, and child abuse and neglect. Almost half of all unintended pregnancies end with an induced abortion. A woman’s ability to avoid an unintended pregnancy is related to her level of risk for pregnancy, her choice of methods, the strength of her motivation to avoid pregnancy and her pattern of contraceptive use. These factors, in turn, are often associated with a woman’s demographic and socioeconomic background, characteristics of her sexual partnerships, and her experiences with and attitudes toward pregnancy and contraception. While slightly more than half of unintended pregnancies occur among women who were not using any method of contraception in the month they conceived; more than four in 10 occur among women who were using a contraceptive method the month they conceived. Issues related to inconsistent or incorrect use of method were the primary reason they conceived. Research indicates that the most effective birth control method is the method the client is the most comfortable with. Client understanding of various methods and comfort with the one they choose is best accomplished with non-directive counseling and education and from a family planning provider that they trust. Family planning providers aim at increasing the percentage of clients who use their chosen method consistently and correctly. Here in our country, the Philippine government is working for a bill aiming to guarantee universal access to methods and information on birth control and maternal care, and it’s known as Reproductive Health Bill (RH Bill). One of the main concerns of the bill, according to the Explanatory Note, is that the population of the Philippines makes it “the 12th most populous nation in the world today”, that the Filipino women’s fertility rate...
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