Family planning is a process in which an individual or couple comes up with a strategy of when to become pregnant and how to use birth control methods to carry out these plans. Family planning is a concept typically used by a female-male couple to control when, how and if they conceive. For this reason, it is not necessarily synonymous with birth control, as adoption, sterilization and abortion also fall under the family planning umbrella.
Education is a large part of family planning. Health care professionals can provide information and counseling for people who may not understand the impact that having a child brings to their health, finances and lifestyle. This is especially helpful for those living below the poverty line or in developing countries, especially when access to medical facilities is limited. Educating people on birth control options means lessening the maternal and infant death rate, limiting the spread of STIs, and increasing life expectancy. These resources are often available free or at a reduced cost to those who qualify.
For couples who may be experiencing difficulty conceiving, family planning may include fertility treatments, assisted reproductive technology, or adoption opportunities. Ongoing counseling is essential for this group as well, especially when considering the emotional impact of fertility treatments and the financial and legal aspects of adoption.
With approximately half of the pregnancies in the United States still considered unintended or unplanned, family planning is an invaluable resource for all people.