The road to family planning is paved with misconceptions.
According to the World Health Organization, 214 million women of reproductive age in developing countries want to avoid pregnancy but are not using modern contraceptive methods. This is mirrored in a report by the University of the Philippines which found that one in every three Filipinas prefers traditional birth control methods.
The WHO report revealed reasons of the women who are not using modern contraceptive methods include limited choices, limited access to contraception, fear or experience of side effects, and cultural or religious oppositions.
To help address unmet needs and common questions about family planning among couples, below are some misconceptions and facts surrounding the topic:
MYTH: Family planning has negative effects on sexual desire and performance.
FACT: Libido depends on individuals and their circumstances. The Department of Health explains that contraceptives generally do not diminish sexual desire or function. On the contrary, agreeing to a family planning method helps spouses have increased enjoyment during sex because they don’t have to worry about unplanned pregnancies.
MYTH: Family planning puts the health of my wife at risk.
FACT: When used properly, all family planning methods are safe. Women who have had more than four babies are at an increased risk of death as reported by the WHO in 2018, which means mothers will benefit greatly from family planning. Using condoms can help prevent sexually transmitted infections, like gonorrhea and syphilis, and even decrease the chances of getting infected with HIV.
Combined oral contraceptives or pills can reduce the risk of ovarian and endometrial cancers. And while there are side effects to using modern contraceptives, including headache, spotting, slight abdominal pain, and changes in weight, they are not harmful and usually do not last long.
Since family planning allows parents to space pregnancies and decide the number of children, mothers can recover better after every birth and devote time for personal growth; spouses can have better mental health and relationships due to reduced anxiety, and children can grow up healthy because their parents are able to better care for each offspring.
MYTH: Long-term use of family planning methods will cause infertility or pagkabaog.
FACT: The woman’s menstrual cycle resumes to regular schedule when she discontinues use of a contraceptive, hence mothers take back the ability to conceive once they decide to have a child.
Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptives are 99 percent effective in preventing women from getting pregnant for three years and above, depending on the type of LARC.
For instance, a progestin subdermal implant, which is placed under the skin of the woman’s upper arm, releases progestin that stops the body from releasing ova or eggs every month and thickens mucus in the cervix that blocks sperm. Once the woman decides to have the contraceptive implant removed, her regular fertility cycle resumes immediately.
MYTH: Family planning is a form of abortion.
FACT: Philippine law is clear on this: abortion is illegal. Contraceptives do not terminate pregnancy/cause abortion; rather, they prevent pregnancy and actually help couples avoid unplanned pregnancies. The Food and Drug Administration declared that progestin subdermal implant is among contraceptive products that are non-abortifacient
MYTH: Family planning is expensive.
FACT: There are family planning options that match every Filipino family’s need and situation; many are reasonably-priced and can be accessed over-the-counter in drugstores. The DOH is mandated by the state under the Reproductive Health Law to offer available modern contraceptives for free primarily to indigent families.
PhilHealth covers the costs of family planning counseling, and the insertion of LARCs such as the Intra-Uterine Device and the progestin subdermal implant, as well as provide other methods including no-scalpel vasectomy, injectable, and the initial cycle of progestin-only-pills.