Family Planning Method and how do they work?

Posted on : January 26, 2022 by Clinic One Team on Ob Gyn

The Center for disease control prevention has recognized family planning as one of the ten great public health achievements of the twentieth century.

IOM in 1995 stated that family planning has given individuals the capability to determine their family size, helps in having a gap between pregnancies, the timing of their children which has resulted in a notable improvement in health and social and economic well being. 

World Health Organization has defined family planning which is used as a working definition by the WHO department of reproduction health and research (2008) as “the ability of individuals and couples to anticipate and attain their desired number of children and the spacing time and birth.

It is achieved through the use of the contraceptive method and the treatment of involuntary infertility.”

Three critical needs are said to be served by family planning which are as follows

  1. Family planning is said to help couples avoid unintended pregnancies.
  2. Reduction of the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (STD).
  3. By addressing the issue of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), family planning reduces the rate of infertility. 

Types of Family Planning Method

  1. Hormonal 
  2. Barrier 
  3. Intrauterine Devices (IUD)
  4. Sterilization 
  5. Natural 
  6. Emergency 

How do they work?

1. Hormonal Method

Hormones called progestin and estrogen are used in this method which is similar to progesterone and estrogen which are created in a female’s body naturally.

Artificial progestin and estrogen are induced in a body through pills, injections, and implantation.

To prevent the fertilization of an egg, hormonal methods operate by restricting eggs from being released from ovaries, limiting sperms from entering the uterus to do so it thickens cervical mucus, and to prevent implantation of the fertilized egg they thin the lining of the uterus. 

2. Barrier Method

In this method physical devices that attempt to prevent pregnancy are used.

Such devices physically attempt to prevent sperm from entering the uterus, the sperm are blocked from entering one’s body and fertilizing eggs.

Unlike other methods, this method does not cause any biological change in the human body hence having no side effects.

Devices that are known for these methods include male condoms, female condoms, cervical caps, diaphragms, and contraceptive sponges with spermicides. 

3. Intrauterine Devices (IUD)

This kind of birth control uses a small device made of copper or plastic which is interested inside a female’s body, it is interested inside a uterus by a trained medical professional.

The device works by creating a hostile environment for the sperm by changing the movement of sperm inside a female’s body by not letting it reach the ovaries and fertilizing the egg.

After inserting the device it may take up to 7 days for it to start working and if interested during one’s menstrual cycle It may start working as soon as it is inserted.

These devices typically last for 5-7 years on average. 

4. Sterilization

These methods are permanent methods of preventing pregnancy.

This method is generally used by couples who are not looking forward to having more children.

In this method, one has to go through a surgery that is performed by a health professional to disable themselves from reproducing. 

Sterilization surgery for men is known as vasectomy, in this surgery the pathway tube for the sperm that carries it from the testicle to the penis is cut.

The ability of a man to perform sexual activities, have sex, or perceive pleasure from sexual activity is not hampered by this surgery. 

Sterilization surgery for women is known as tubal ligation as the name suggests the tube that carries the eggs to the uterus is tied or cut.

This surgery does not discontinue a woman’s monthly menstruation cycle or hamper her ability to indulge in sexual activities, have sex, or perceive pleasure from sexual activities. 

5. Natural Methods

In this method, no surgery, devices, or medication is involved.

These methods depend on the natural way of the body to not fertilize eggs.

Methods that fall under this method are lactational amenorrhea which involves breastfeeding for 6 months and the fertility awareness method.

This might not be as effective as other birth control methods 

i. Lactational Amenorrhea

In this method s woman’s natural way of avoiding pregnancy in postpartum is used.

The postpartum infertility of a woman comes in action in this method which occurs soon after birthing a baby which may be extended by breastfeeding.

If one exclusively breastfeeds for six months it can prevent ovaries from releasing eggs.

This method does not require any assistance from a medical professional but it may only be effective for the first six months after delivery.

ii. Fertility Awareness Methods

This method depends on the woman being well aware of her fertility chart, she needs to know her menstruation cycle to know her fertility dates and days, on those days she has to avoid having unprotected sexual intercourse.

A woman needs to note her menstruation cycle and precisely chart her fertility, through basal body temperature changes, by noting changes in cervical mucus, or by following the calendar. 

6. Emergency Contraceptive

This method includes taking pills or may include uterine devices to avoid pregnancy.

These methods are used by a woman to avoid pregnancy after indulging in unprotected sexual intercourse.

These methods are only effective if brought to use soon after indulging in unprotected sex.

Emergency contraceptive primarily works by preventing ovulation or fertilization.


Family planning has shown to be one of the most cost-effective health interventions.

A number of long-term researches have shown that a fair amount of investment in family planning can help in improvement in maternal and child health, and save lives.

In the year 2008 effective use of proper contraceptive use prevented near about 44% of maternal deaths around the world, which shows that through family planning maternal death can be avoided.

Because of its cost-effectiveness, in 3rd world countries through family planning, the problem of unsafe abortion can be avoided among the low to middle-income population.

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