Need To Know Your Family Planning Options? Click here

Written by Eve Bandusena | Parents Avenue’s Editorial Assistant 

Looking for a booster to increase your chance of conceiving? You’ve come to the right place.

There’s an estimated figure that 40% of pregnancies are unplanned.

Furthermore, contraception knowledge among married Malaysian women are low as about 35% and is projected to be lower among unmarried women.

This is due to the devastating stigma associated with premarital sex in our conservative country.

Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at Gleneagles Hospital Kota Kinabalu, Dr. Alagammai Ramanathan, asserts the prevalence of this issue requiring the immediate attention of not only married couples looking to start a family but it applies to unmarried women too.

Is family planning key to happiness?

 

“This is something to talk about.” Dr. Gammai establishes.

Family planning provides many benefits to the mother of the children and the family as a whole in several aspects such as the physical health of the mother, family bonding and financial stability.

“It’s important for the mother to regain their health and ensure that all nutrients are restored adequately in the body,” she continues, “Beside that, more attention can be given to existing children and allows us personal development.”

Dr. Gammai also articulates that planned families are emotionally stronger and stable.

“Children have less behaviour problems as they receive more attention and quality time between their mother and father,” she states, “This leads to lesser fights and misunderstanding at home as nuclear families.”

 
Why women carry the burden of contraception
 

“In Kota Kinabalu, knowledge of contraception among men is quite poor.” Dr. Gammai exclaims.

She explains that, not only do women have to bear the weight of contraception but still need the consent of their husbands.

“As I explain the contraception methods to women, they’ll listen to everything and most of the time the final answer will be, ‘Doctor, please allow me to discuss with my husband and get back to you’ and most of the time they return pregnant and the cycle continues.” She warily relays.

Dr. Gammai goes on to depict the domestic patterns faced by married women.

“Once we reach home, there is a baby to take care of; housework to carry out; errands to run; dealing with in-laws. All these tasks are seen as priorities and the contraception is forgotten.”

“However, it’s always nice to see couples coming in together to discuss about contraception so they both are able to comprehend and decide what methods are best for them.”

She lastly notes that, “Contraception is an option. You can listen to your doctor and apply them, or not. That is completely depending on the couple.”

 
Types of Male Contraception
 
#1 Condoms
 

Condoms are a “barrier” method of contraception. They are designed to prevent pregnancy by stopping the sperm from meeting an egg. They also protect the user from STD’s.

Advantages:

  • When used correctly and consistently, they are a reliable method of preventing pregnancy. 
  • They help to protect both them and their partners from STIs, including chlamydiagonorrhoea and HIV.
  • You only need to use them when you have sex – they don’t need advance preparation and are suitable for unplanned sex.
  • In most cases, there are no medical side effects from using condoms.
  • They are easy to get hold of and come in a variety of shapes, sizes and flavours.

 

 Disadvantages:

  • Some couples find that using condoms interrupts sex – to get around this, try to make using a condom part of foreplay. 
  • Condoms are very strong but may split or tear if not used properly. If this happens to you, practise putting them on, so you get used to using them.
  • Some people may be allergic to latex, plastic or spermicides, but you can get condoms that are less likely to cause an allergic reaction.
  • When using a condom, the man has to pull out after he has ejaculated and before his penis goes soft, holding the condom firmly in place.
 
#3 Vasectomy
 

According to Planned Parenthood, a vasectomy is a simple surgery done by a doctor in an office, hospital, or clinic. The small tubes in your scrotum that carry sperm are cut or blocked off, so sperm can’t leave your body and cause pregnancy. The procedure is very quick, and you can go home the same day. And it’s extremely effective at preventing pregnancy — almost 100%.

Advantages:

  • It’s 99% effective at preventing pregnancies from occurring
  • Effects on long term health is scarce
  • Hormone levels, sex drive aren’t interfered with

Disadvantages

  • Condoms will still be required as it doesn’t protect oneself against STI’s
  • Isn’t reversed as easily
  • Might have face complications
Types of Female Contraception
 
#1 Caps and diaphragm 

 

A contraceptive diaphragm or cap is a circular dome made of thin, soft silicone that’s inserted into the vagina before sex. It covers the cervix so sperm can’t get into the womb (uterus) to fertilise an egg.

Advantages:

  • Only use when you want to have sex
  • Can be inserted at a convenient time before having sex (use extra spermicide if you have it in for more than 3 hours)
  • There are usually no serious associated health risks or side effects
  • You’re in control of your contraception

Disadvantages:

  • It’s not as effective as other types of contraception, and it depends on you remembering to use it and using it correctly
  • Does not protect against STD
  • It can take time to learn how to use it
  • Putting it in can interrupt sex
  • Cystitis (bladder infection) can be a problem for some women who use a diaphragm or cap
  • Latex and spermicide can cause irritation in some women and their sexual partners
 
#2 Pills
 
Commonly available either combined pills (has both estrogen and progesterone) or progesterone only pills (mainly taken during breast feeding)
 

Some advantages of the pill include:

  • Does not interrupt sex
  • Usually makes your bleeds regular, lighter and less painful
  • Reduces your risk of cancer of the ovaries, womb and colon
  • Can reduce symptoms of PMS (premenstrual syndrome)
  • May reduce the risk of fibroids, ovarian cysts and non-cancerous breast disease

Disadvantage

  • Can cause temporary side effects at first, such as headaches, nausea, breast tenderness and mood swings – if these do not go after a few months, it may help to change to a different pill
  • Might increase your blood pressure
  • Does not protect you against sexually transmitted infections
  • Breakthrough bleeding and spotting is common in the first few months of using the pill
  • Has been linked to an increased risk of some serious health conditions, such as thrombosis (blood clots) and breast cancer
#3 Implants
 

The contraceptive implant (Nexplanon) is a small flexible plastic rod that’s placed under the skin in your upper arm. It releases the hormone progestogen into your bloodstream to prevent pregnancy and lasts for 3 years.

Advantages:

  • More than 99% effective
  • Works for 3 years
  • Doesn’t interrupt sex
  • It’s an option if you can’t use oestrogen-based contraception, such as the combined contraceptive pill, contraceptive patch or vaginal ring
  • Safe to use while you’re breastfeeding
  • Fertility will return to normal as soon as the implant is taken out
  • May reduce heavy periods or painful periods

Disadvantages:

  • May experience temporary side effects during the first few months, like headaches, nausea, breast tenderness and mood swings
  • Periods may be irregular or stop altogether
  • May get acne or your acne might get worse
  • Will need a small procedure to have it fitted and removed
  • Doesn’t protect you against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), so you may need to use additional contraception (such as condoms) as well.
#4 IUCD (Copper-T or, Mirena)

 

An IUCD is a small T-shaped plastic and copper device that’s put into your womb (uterus) by a doctor or nurse.  It releases copper to stop you getting pregnant and protects against pregnancy for between 5 and 10 years. It’s sometimes called a “coil” or “copper coil”.

Advantages:

  • Is effective up to 99% if used properly
  • Protects against pregnancy for 5 or 10 years, depending on the type
  • Once an IUD is fitted, it works straight away
  • Most women can use it
  • There are no hormonal side effects, such as acne, headaches or breast tenderness
  • It does not interrupt sex
  • Safe to use an IUD if you’re breastfeeding.
  • Possible to get pregnant as soon as the IUD is removed.
  • Not affected by other medicines.
  • There’s no evidence that an IUD will affect your weight or increase the risk of cervical cancercancer of the uterus or ovarian cancer.

Disadvantages:

  • Periods may become heavier, longer or more painful, though this may improve after a few months.
  • It does not protect against STDs, so you may need to use condoms as well.
  • If you get an infection when you have an IUD fitted, it could lead to a pelvic infection if not treated.
  • Most women who stop using an IUD do so because of vaginal bleeding and pain, although these side effects are uncommon.
#5 Patch (Evra Patch)

 

This contraceptive patch is a small sticky patch that releases hormones into your bidy through your skin to prevent pregnancy.

Advantages:

  • Very easy to use and doesn’t interrupt sex
  • Unlike the combined oral contraceptive pill, you don’t have to think about it every day you only have to remember to change it once a week
  • The hormones from the patch aren’t absorbed by the stomach, so it still works if you’re sick (vomit) or have diarrhoea
  • Can make your periods more regular, lighter and less painful
  • Can help with premenstrual symptoms
  • May reduce the risk of ovarian, womb and bowel cancer
  • May reduce the risk of fibroidsovarian cysts and non-cancerous breast disease

       Disadvantage:

  • May be visible
  • Can cause skin irritation, itching and soreness
  • Doesn’t protect you against STD so you may need to use condoms as well
  • Some women get mild temporary side effects when they first start using the patch, such as headaches, sickness (nausea), breast tenderness and mood changes – this usually settles down after a few months
  • Bleeding between periods (breakthrough bleeding) and spotting (very light, irregular bleeding) is common in the first few cycles of using the patch
  • Some medicines can make the patch less effective
  • You need to remember to change it every week
  • Cannot be removed during bath (mandi wajib)
#6 Family Planning

 

Natural family planning (or “fertility awareness) is a method of contraception where a woman monitors and records different fertility signals during her menstrual cycle to work out when she’s likely to get pregnant.

Advantages:

  • It doesn’t cause any side effects
  • Natural family planning is acceptable to all faiths and cultures
  • Most women can use natural family planning, as long as they’re properly trained by a fertility awareness teacher
  • Once you’ve learned the techniques, there should be no further need for input from health professionals
  • Natural family planning can be used either to avoid pregnancy or to become pregnant
  • It doesn’t involve chemicals or physical products.
  • It can help you recognise normal and abnormal vaginal secretions, so you can be aware of possible infection
  • It involves your partner in the process, which can help increase feelings of closeness and trust

Disadvantages:

  • Natural family planning does not protect against STIs such as chlamydia or HIV
  • You’ll need to avoid sex, or use contraception such as condoms, during the time you might get pregnant, which some couples can find difficult
  • If you decide to abstain, there can sometimes be up to 16 days during which you cannot have sex, depending on your cycle
  • It can be much less effective than other methods of contraception if the methods aren’t followed accurately
  • It won’t work without continued commitment and practice
  • It can take several menstrual cycles before you become confident in identifying your fertile time. During this time, you’ll have to use barrier contraception, such as condoms
  • You’ll need to keep a daily record of your fertility signs
  • It’s not suitable for every woman
  • Stress, illness, travel, lifestyle and hormonal treatments can disrupt your fertility signs
  • If you use the emergency contraceptive pill, you’ll need to wait for 2 complete cycles before relying on natural family planning again

 

Overall benefits of family planning

 

Family planning is beneficial to families in many aspects such as the mother’s health including her children’s and its effect on a family’s financial condition. Economically, the high cost of having children includes medical bills relating to pregnancy, birth including the soaring price of raising them.

Since it’s the responsibility of the parents to provide basic necessities such as education, shelter, clothes, and food for their children. Family planning can be the right tool in ensuring that the parents will have to ability to assess options in raising children sufficiently.

Messages for readers of Parents Avenue

 

“These are the few contraception available with the advantage and disadvantages.” Dr. Gammai says.

She ends with, “Each and every method has its own good and back points. So do discuss with your doctors before deciding what is the best method for you. Remember, everybody is different so there’s no one contraception that fits all.”

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any diseases. At Parents Avenue, we strongly recommend all our readers to seek medical advise from your local hospital or clinic. Thank you.

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