Some people grow up knowing exactly what they want out of life — go to college, fall in love, get married, have 2 children, and a Labrador Retriever named Ralph. For other people, just getting out of bed each morning and finding two shoes that actually match is a major accomplishment. Most of us fall somewhere in the middle. No matter if you’ve been dreaming of a family of five or living the single life, you need to make conscious decisions about family planning long before you must admit that pregnancy was one of those things you didn’t believe could happen to you.
Modern healthcare advancements allow you to make the best decisions for you and your partner when it comes to starting a family. Not only can you decide the optimal time to have children, but you can also choose the best family size and desired birth spacing. Your choices don’t stop there either. After you do conceive, you have options like using a pregnancy due date calculator, getting the right ultrasound for you, and whether you want a natural birth or the use of pain control methods.
Family Planning Today
Family planning isn’t just about condoms and birth control. It starts with deciding that having a family is what you really want and then making a plan for when and how you have one. Another important aspect of family planning involves treating infertility issues that occur in about 11 percent of women and 9 percent of men who are of reproductive age in the U.S. Participating in family planning is also an essential part of securing the rights and autonomy of women around the globe. Empowering young women to be active participants in family planning activities is critical, but not always easy.
About 19 million women in the United States live in counties without a single clinic with comprehensive contraception options. These areas are known as contraception deserts, and they might be hurting some women’s health. Without adequate access to healthcare services, many women have children at a point in their lives where they aren’t fully prepared financially, emotionally, or personally. This might lead to making difficult decisions like terminating the pregnancy, placing a child up for adoption, or shifting their focus from career-woman to mom.
In 1938, the federal ban on birth control was lifted. At the time, the most popular contraceptive options were natural methods or the use of a diaphragm. By the 1960s, the first oral birth control pill was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. Today, there are more options than ever before.
Here is a quick round-up of a few of the most popular choices:
- The Pill: Oral contraceptives are one of the most popular family planning strategies. These prescription medications provide about 99 percent protection from pregnancy when taken every day. However, the pill won’t protect you from sexually transmitted infections, so you must use other methods to ensure you’re safe.
- Rhythm Method: If you want to take a natural approach to birth control, the rhythm method might be a good option. This strategy requires careful tracking of your menstrual cycle to identify your most fertile days. To protect against pregnancy, you must abstain from sex during ovulation, or use a backup contraceptive.
- Contraceptive Implant: The implant is placed in your arm, just under the skin. It releases a small dose of hormone to protect you from pregnancy. Most implants last about three years and are 99.99 percent effective.
- Emergency Contraception: The morning after pill isn’t a long-term family planning method, but it is useful for those one-time occasions where you had unprotected sex, missed a pill, or a condom broke. You should take this medication within 24 hours of unprotected sex to get optimal benefits. The more time that passes, the less effective this medication will be in protecting you against pregnancy.
- Male Condoms: Besides having a vasectomy, condoms are the only family-planning option that put men in control. When used properly, condoms are effective, and they protect you from STIs.
- Injections: If you’re looking for a method that only requires you to think about it four times a year, injectable birth control is an excellent option. It’s about 99 percent effective if you get your shots on time. It also offers protection from uterine cancer, but it doesn’t protect you from STIs.
The American Family
The American family is more diverse today than ever before, and family planning options contribute to the new family portrait. If you don’t believe us, take a look at any local playground. You will find the traditional male and female couple with biological kids surrounded by families with two moms or dads, adopted children of several races or ethnicities, and single-parent families. This is the beauty of family planning — it offers a solution to just about any possible family option you want or need.
Once you have kids, you can take advantage of things that single folks just don’t get, like midnight baby snuggles, the superpower of healing boo-boos with a single kiss, and income tax breaks that will have you smiling and planning awesome family vacations. And, the fun doesn’t stop there.
Raising kids is an exciting time of your life that comes with big decisions and challenges. Deciding to live in an urban, suburban, or rural area can greatly change the look of your family. You might want to be close to extended family and friends to have an adequate support system. You might also want to consider the type of education you want to have for your children, such as public or private education, homeschooling, online programs, or Montessori. Oh, and we can’t forget the importance of group activities like dance class or sports, and the vital part of your child’s education they can play. Raising a family is hard work, but it’s one of life’s most rewarding experiences, especially when you planned it the way you want it to look.
The Choice is Yours
Family planning is full of options that start with contraception choices and end sometime after they graduate from college (we think). The best thing about family planning is that the choice is yours — two kids, 10 kids, or just that lab named Ralph. It’s your decision!
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