Family planning myths

Family planning myths Jadelle

The Herald



Modern family planning allows young and professional women to space their children so that childbearing does not affect their professional responsibilities and ambitions. As women increasingly go up the professional ladder, it is imperative that childbearing does not interfere with professional responsibilities.

Another benefit of modern family planning method is that it safeguards older women who may not necessarily need children anymore from conceiving at later stages in life, and therefore reducing maternal and infant mortality.

However, modern family planning methods are often misconstrued and strewn with cultural and religious beliefs, creating barriers for their uptake.

Some of the most common myths and misconceptions include:

It is not true that family planning is only meant to reduce the number of children per person.

The main aim of family planning is not necessarily to reduce the number of children per person. Rather, it is meant for child spacing so as to guarantee the health of the mother and the child, especially at birth. It also ensures that every birth is wanted. Because of health reasons and the social well-being of the family, individuals may not want to have many children. They should have the option to have children when they want to and when they are ready to.

It is not true that family planning is bad for women’s health. This misconception arises from the observation that some women experience negative side effects when using some family planning methods. For example, the birth control pill may cause some women to gain weight, experience headaches, nausea, or have mood swings.

However, these side effects do not occur to every woman. If one experiences negative side effects, they can change to another option of available family planning method. More information can be sought from a nearby clinic or hospital.

Family planning is good for women’s health because it ensures that every pregnancy is wanted (thus reducing chances of abortions, especially unsafe abortions). It also allows child spacing, and therefore decreases mortality rates.

Without proper child spacing, chances increase that the mother or child might die at childbirth or soon after. Some modern family planning methods such as the condom reduce sexually transmitted infections, including HIV infection.

It is not true that family planning is a negative ploy to curb population growth, and reduce economic development.

Family planning is a choice. There are scientifically researched methods for allowing optional child spacing to give married couples the choice and flexibility to have children at a time suitable to their financial, health, and career conveniences. The objectives of family planning are not simply aimed at limiting the size of families, but rather to help them have children when they want to. Even if people desire larger families, they should be informed about the health consequences related to unplanned and multiple childbearing.

It is not true that family planning can cause women to become infertile.

The argument that family planning contraceptives causes women to become infertile arises from the observation that after using family planning contraceptives for some time, women often don’t fall pregnant immediately when they need to. This can be true with some women and using some of the modern family planning methods available.

However, the short time lag (mostly three months or less) resulting in delayed conception happens as a result of hormonal re-adjustments as the human body flushes its system. This mostly clears immediately within three months or less and one can get pregnant again soon after. Some women do not experience these delays at all.

It is not true that family planning is culturally abominable, and is a religious apostasy

In patriarchal societies, childbearing is central to the survival of marriages. Although modern families realise that smaller and planned families are easy to manage, traditional views of childbearing remain subconsciously deep-seated in many people’s psychic. Because of these traditional beliefs, some women may be persuaded to shun family planning altogether.

Unfortunately, the consequence is that it fuels unintended pregnancies, even among married people in cases where couples may not necessarily need more children. Some pregnancies can even take place way beyond the safe childbearing age for women, who are 35 years, resulting in complications at childbirth.

Family planning does not reduce libido

Only an insignificant number of women encounter this problem. Other causes of reduction in libido may be marital instability and fear of contracting STIs /HIV. Rather, libido might actually increase when using family planning as couples feel more comfortable during sex knowing that they are protected. In the absence of family planning protection, the fear of falling pregnant and contracting sexually transmitted diseases and HIV might actually reduce sex drive. — Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council (ZNFPC).

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