Some couples plan to have children immediately after getting married. Others prefer to enjoy their honeymoon lives a little longer before having a family. Singles, on the other hand, who are sexually active use contraception to prevent unplanned pregnancies and to protect themselves from STIs.
Family planning is healthy and should be promoted by everyone who is of adult age.
Family planning, as concluded by the National Research Council’s Committee on Population’s working group assessment, is important for the improvement of the health of women and children in developing countries.
In most developed and developing nations, the availability of birth control and family planning programmes are readily available. Easy access to such services and information should be encouraged to improve prenatal care, encourage breastfeeding, and develop better programmes for families, couples, and individuals alike.
At the point of writing this article, approximately 40% of pregnancies are unplanned. And perhaps because of this, women (and their partners) are less mentally, financially, and emotionally, for pregnancy and parenthood. Unprepared parents also have fewer resources for antenatal care and face more challenges after the delivery of the baby.
Unplanned pregnancies are also more frequent within the lower socioeconomic strata where access to information, education, and proper healthcare is less readily available.The availability of birth control methods is also a form of women empowerment.
Other benefits to family planning and usage of birth control methods like pregnancy pills, IUD, cervical caps, and spermicides are:
Reduce the number of pregnancies for each woman
Reduce high-parity births
Reduce pregnancies in very young and older women
Reduce the number of pregnancies for women with existing health concerns
This tried and true birth control method is the most common and cost-effective birth control method throughout the world. Compared to other forms of birth control types, this is the only one that helps prevent the spread of STIs.
Commonly used, the contraceptive pill contains estrogen and progestin to halt the ovulation process. It also increases the thickness of the mucus in the cervix to slow down the progress of sperm. It’s been said that this form of contraception is about 91% effective.
If you’re not keen on popping the pill or believe that you may forget your daily dosage, using the patch method is more suitable. You’ll only need to replace the patch weely and you wear it for three weeks, removing it on the 4th week.
Said to be approximately 94% effective, a general practitioner or gynaecologist can perform the contraceptive injection every three months to prevent ovulation; it works pretty much like the birth control pill. This form of contraception is preferred by many sexually active women because it is non-invasive. The downside is that it may take up to 14 weeks to ‘recover’ from the effects of the injection should you decide to have kids again.
Boasting of up to 99% effectiveness, the contraceptive implant works for up to 3 years after the implant and can be taken out earlier if so desired. The progesterone implant is inserted into the arm to prevent ovulation by slowly releasing hormones that prevent pregnancy. The good thing about the usage of this contraception is that you will quickly regain your ability to get pregnant after you stop using it.
The IUD is a small T-shaped device that fits into the uterus that stops sperm from reaching and fertilizing the eggs. Having a direct spermicidal effect, it does NOT contain hormones, so you will still get your periods. As long-term contraception, your periods may become heavier and more painful during the first few months; the pain, however, tapers off after a while. The IUD is 98% effective and can be left in the womb for up to five years. It is possible to get pregnant as soon as the IUD is removed.
Although technically not contraception per se, it is an emergency measure that can be taken by women to prevent pregnancy after unprotected intercourse. It works the same way as a birth control pill and is effective as long as it is taken 120 hours after intercourse. The morning-after pill is to be used as a form of emergency when, for instance, there was a tear in the condom or if you’ve forgotten to take your usual birth control pill. It is often viewed as a last resort instead of conventional birth control.
As a sexually active woman, you may have your reasons to prevent pregnancy. A study shows that 84% of couples who engage in regular sex without any form of protection will get pregnant within a year.
Some of the reasons why you may either use the birth control pill or opt for the IUD would be:
You love children but are not ready to commit to being a parent yet
You may not have a stable partner to share the responsibilities of parenthood with
You’re still enjoying the life of couplehood or being newlyweds
You’re not in the financial position to take on the responsibility of raising children
You enjoy being single or being a part of a couple without children
You do not want to have children of your own
You are satisfied with the status of your family right now and do not want to become pregnant again
It is not safe or viable, health-wise, for you to conceive
It's great for you to consider the following factors before deciding on a contraceptive method.
Your background. Consult with a doctor or your gynaecologist before deciding because you would be looking into your age, medical history, social situation, and cultural background.
Your reproductive status. Consider if your partner and you are ready to have children together and the frequency of intercourse. Family planning is all about the readiness of the couple to have and raise children together as it is a huge responsibility to take on.
What works for your lifestyle. Some couples are OK with getting pregnant unplanned, others are not. For instance, the daily contraception method is perfectly acceptable for couples who are fine with unplanned pregnancies while more permanent ones (which should be performed by health professionals) works well if you are not ready to have children.
Thankfully, the cost of contraception and its devices are not exorbitant. They’re relatively affordable and the most common type, like birth control pills and condoms, are readily available in either pharmacies, clinics, government hospitals, or convenience stores.
Condoms- SGD6 to SGD 30 per box. Most pharmacies carry a wide range of condoms to choose from.
Birth Control Pills - SGD25 - SGD40 for a month’s supply. You will need a prescription from your doctor.
Birth Control Injection - SGD150 - SGD200 for 3 months. It works out to be approximately SGD50 to SGD67 per month
IUD - SGD400 - SGD500 per insertion that lasts up to 6 years
Hormonal implants - SGD400 - SGD600. It works out to cost about SGD11 to SGD17 per month
Vasectomy - SGD200 at public hospitals and SGD2,000 at private hospitals
Morning-after pill - SGD40 - SGD50 per pill
Condoms - RM6.00 to RM20 per box of 12 condoms. Condoms are also sometimes distributed for free by health clinics.
Birth Control Pills - RM10 to RM55 per pack. Can be obtained at government clinics either free or for only RM1
Birth Control Injection - RM18 - RM36 per shot. Free or cost RM1 per shot at government clinics
IUD- RM800 - RM1,100; RM600 at a fertility centre; Free or RM1 at government clinics
Hormonal implants - RM500 with the cost of removal at RM100
Vasectomy - RM300 - RM500 under the National Population and Family Development Board Malaysia (LPPKN). Privately, it can be done for RM2,000 to RM6,000
Morning-after pill - RM5 - RM53
Speaking to your doctor is important and they are in the best position to help you determine the right contraceptive method for you. Do not feel shy to speak about your lifestyle and preferences because the doctor is there to help you make the right decision and having the right information is crucial.
If you need to speak to a doctor or encounter situations whereby you or your family members are unable to visit the hospital or clinic, you can always book a virtual consultation with the Speedoc app or call us for an appointment or doctor house call visit.