Contraception – Family planning options.

As we face hard economic times here in Kenya, many families are conscious about the number of children they want to have. I have been asked about family planning or contraception options so many times, especially by women on the streets, at home and at the hospital. Besides the options, they usually also want to know about the side effects, since there are so many myths about the contraception methods side effects.

In this article we would just have an overview on the topic.


Contraceptives are devices or methods for preventing pregnancy either by preventing the fertilisation of the female egg by the male sperm or by preventing implantation of the fertilised egg on the uterus.

According to statistics, half of the pregnancies are unplanned for and half of them end up in induced abortions leading to a lot of death due to illegal unprofessional abortions being conducted out there. Hence, contraception prevents this.

The most Popular contraception method is the Injectables.

Contraceptives Options

  1. Hormonal (oestrogen and progesterone) contraceptives – oral contraceptives, implants, skin patches, vaginal rings and injections
  2. The Intra Uterine contraceptive Device (IUCD)
  3. Barrier methods with or without spermicides- male and female condoms, cervical cap, diaphragm.
  4. Fertility awareness based method- these are the natural family planning methods
  5. Voluntary surgical sterilisation- these are permanent methods of contraception.

We are going to mention a few important things about the options. Fertility awareness based methods details can be found in our previous article ……..

Contraception options

Oral contraceptives

All hormonal contraception use Progesterone only or progesterone in combination with oestrogen. The pills are taken from the 1st day of the menstrual cycle preferably and also preferably at the same time of the day once a day.

The combined pill (COCs) is most effective and most women use these.

Former pill users who want to gain back their fertility usually take 3-6 months but can regain it even sooner.

Combination pills are sold in 21 day or 28 day packs. 21 are active while the other 7 in 28 are inactive usually containing iron just to make the woman not to forget about the pills and cycle.

Side effects include – nausea and vomiting (take pill with food or when sleeping), headache, dizziness, increased bleeding during menses, absence of bleeding or spotting between the cycle, weight gain, abdominal pain or cramps and unexpected flow of breast milk.

Contraindications – Presence of pregnancy, cardiovascular diseases or breast tumour.

Some of the health benefits –helps regulate cycles, reduces the likelihood of developing benign breast disease and ovarian cancer.

Injectables contraceptives

Advantages: – Safe, convenient, highly effective and easier to administer.

Disadvantages: -Weight gain, menstrual irregularities and delayed return to fertility.

Most widely used is the Depo Provera –DMPA – Depo medroxyprogesterone acetate. It’s dosage is 3 months, injected on the upper arm or buttocks.


Progestin filled capsules made of silicone inserted under the skin of the upper arm.

Norplant, Jadelle and sinoplant – all effective for 5 years

Implanon – effective for 3 years.

IntraUterine contraceptive Devices

Intrauterine devices are plastic, polyethylene devices impregnated with barium sulphate to make them radiographic, now containing copper or progesterone, which stay in the uterine cavity.

ParaGard – containing copper – Effective up to 8 years.

Mirena – effective for 5 years

Progestasert- progestin releasing- must be replaced yearly.

Voluntary Surgical Contraception (Permanent methods)

Bilateral Tubal Ligation for women and Vasectomy for men.

Emergency Contraception.

I have seen a lot of cases whereby people needed emergency contraception, when condoms burst and the so called ‘accidents’.

Morning after, post-coital contraception can be used to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex.

Commonly are the E-Pills such as the famous Postinor- 2 where one tab is taken and the other exactly 12 hours after. It is effective within 72 hours.


This is just but an overview of the options available of contraception or family planning methods. Talk to your healthcare provider when choosing the best option for you.

Let us control our lives and the size of our families for better development!

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