The city’s crowded slums underscore the country’s need for family planning. But what exactly does “family planning” actually mean and how is it different from contraception?

According to Dr. Zedrix Gallito, an OB-Gynecologist at ManilaMed, family planning mainly refers to access; that is, access to the information, means, and methods of planning a family.

As for contraception, Dr. Gallito said that it refers to “behaviours, methods, and devices” that either limit  or schedule pregnancy. The key idea behind contraception is the proper spacing between the birthing children. There are practical and health reasons for using contraception: too many children can be costly to the family;  and having women get pregnant every year exposes her to nutritional deficiencies, possible illnesses, and complications.

There are several types of contraceptives:

Hormonal contraceptives are the more commonly used form of contraceptives in the Philippines. The purpose is to alter a woman’s hormone levels to prevent ovulation. These are commonly in the form of pills which are taken on a regular basis.

Injectable contraceptive drugs are progesterone-loaded shots injected into the muscular tissue to allow for a longer diffusion time. The goal of injectable contraceptive drugs is the same as hormonal contraceptives, except that one injection is given every three months.

Subdermal implants work in the same manner as the two previously discussed, except that instead of a pill or an injection, a thin implant is placed under a woman’s skin which releases progestin. This prevents her from getting pregnant.

Intrauterine System (IUS) is a small device placed inside a woman’s uterus which slowly releases progestin, preventing ovulation (the production of eggs).

Copper Intrauterine Device (IUD). The copper coiled around the stem of the IUD can damage or kill the sperm (copper is toxic to sperm). At the same time, it causes the uterus and fallopian tubes to produce a fluid that also kills sperm.

Barrier Methods include different devices that block the sperm from entering the uterus. Unlike other contraceptives, barrier method contraceptives such as male and female condoms, cervical cap, and spermicidal foam are only used during intercourse.

Sterilization is the permanent method of preventing pregnancy. Vasectomy is for males and entails tying, cutting, or sealing the vas deferens inside the testes. The vas deferens are the tubes that allow sperm to travel from the testes through the penile opening and into the woman. Vasectomy prevents sperm from leaving the testes.

Tubal Occlusion the the sterilization method for females. The  fallopian tubes are closed to prevent the egg from entering the uterus and the sperm from reaching the egg.

Contraception does more than just prevent pregnancy. It also protects a woman’s health. “Hypertension, gestational diabetes mellitus, hemorrhage, infections, and serious health conditions after delivery may be preventable or be more manageable if the pregnancy is planned. The unborn child also has a better chance of survival if the timing of pregnancy is planned,” says Dr. Gallito.

Women who want to plan their family and take care of their health should consult with qualified health professionals. Go to manilamed.com.ph for more information on expert consultation and medical care before, during, and after pregnancy.