Family Planning is a method that couples may use to determine when they want to have children and how many children to have. By keeping track of changes in the menstrual cycle, a couple can make decisions on whether or not sexual intercourse will result in pregnancy. The chances of having a baby are greatest when sexual intercourse takes place just before and after ovulation. Keeping natural body changes in mind, doctors may advocate natural or artificial methods of birth control. Couples trying to conceive may also use these tracking methods in order to start their families. Here is some basic information about various aspects of family planning.
One popular natural family planning method is the sympto-thermal method. When using this method, a woman takes her basal body temperature every morning when she first wakes up and before she gets out of bed. When there is an increase in temperature and the cervical mucus is sticky, that indicates the time period surrounding ovulation, and the chances of getting pregnant are higher during this time period. Periodic abstinence from sexual intercourse during this more fertile period is one method used to prevent pregnancy. Alternatively, knowing when this fertile period occurs may help couples who are ready to start a family or conceive additional children. The rhythm method, based solely on the timing of a woman’s menstrual cycle calendar, may not be very reliable since changes in the monthly cycle are not taken into consideration. These natural methods do require diligence from a couple, but can be effective if followed. If natural methods don't sound right for you, there are other family planning methods that enable or prevent conception.
Barrier methods involve the use of condoms in the case of men or a cervical cap or diaphragm in case of women. Oral contraceptives can also be used, where hormones in the form of a pill are used to influence the woman’s menstrual cycle. Additional hormonal contraceptive methods are also available, including the cervical ring, injections, a patch, and implanting a small rod under the skin of your arm. Another preventive method is the intrauterine device (often called an IUD), which must be inserted by a medical professional. Surgical sterilization is a more permanent option for both men and women. Visiting with a doctor is an important step to determine which method suits you and your body and your needs best.
Infertility means not being able to get pregnant after one year of trying, or six months of trying if the woman is age 35 or older. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 10 percent of women in the U.S. have difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant. If you and your spouse are dealing with infertility, not only should you seek professional guidance from a medical doctor, but you should also seek emotional support from friends, family, and a professional counselor if needed. There are many different methods for treating infertility, and a doctor can help educate you on whether any of them may be right for you.
Whatever your family planning needs, it is imperative that you and your spouse make these important decisions together. Seek to understand each other's needs and desires in these matters. Be empathetic, patient, and kind as you discuss these issues together. Remember you are a team, and open communication is required.
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