Family planning, as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO), empowers individuals and couples to plan and achieve their preferred number of children, including decisions about the spacing and timing of births. It also emphasizes a woman’s right to choose whether or not to have children. This practice leads to better health outcomes for infants, children, women, and families overall.

In 2021, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) highlighted that nearly 923 million women globally want to avoid or postpone pregnancy, with around 75% of them utilizing modern contraceptive methods. According to fp2030, the current family planning method mix highlights that condoms and injectable contraceptives are the most favored options. The modern contraceptive choices mainly include condoms, pills, and injectables.  However, over 218 million women still lack access to necessary family planning services and African countries, including Nigeria, experience the lowest contraceptive use rates, coupled with the highest maternal, infant, and child mortality rates, and the highest fertility rates.

At HAFAI, family planning is one of our core thematic areas and we are dedicated to providing girls and women with safe contraception methods and enlightening them on the importance and benefits of effective family planning. There are several methods for family planning, but these are the top 5 effective methods you can use today.

  1. Implants

Top 5 Effective Family Planning Methods -Implants

Implants are one of the most effective family planning methods available today. These small, flexible rods are inserted under the skin of a woman’s upper arm and release a hormone called progestin, which prevents ovulation. This method is over 99% effective, meaning fewer than 1 pregnancy per 100 women using implants over a year.

It is also highly effective for several reasons:

  • Long-Lasting: Implants can prevent pregnancy for up to three to five years, depending on the type.
  • Low Maintenance: Once inserted, there is no need for daily, weekly, or monthly actions, making it hassle-free.
  • High Efficacy: With a failure rate of just 0.05% in the first year, fewer than 1 pregnancy per 100 women using implants over a year occurs.
  • Reversible: Fertility generally returns quickly after removal.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), implants have a failure rate of 0.05% in the first year of use. A study published in The Lancet Global Health found implants to be highly effective in sub-Saharan Africa, including Nigeria, with a continuation rate of 84% after one year of use. The Nigerian Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) 2018 reported that the use of implants increased from 1.1% in 2013 to 2.6% in 2018 among married women (National Population Commission, Nigeria, 2019).

2. Intrauterine Devices (IUDs)

Intrauterine Devices (IUDs) are another highly effective family planning method. These small, T-shaped devices are inserted into the uterus to prevent pregnancy. There are two types: copper IUDs and hormonal IUDs. Both types are more than 99% effective, with fewer than 1 pregnancy per 100 women using them over a year.

The reasons for their high effectiveness include:

  • Long-Term Protection: Copper IUDs can last up to 10 years, while hormonal IUDs can last between 3 to 5 years.
  • High Efficacy: Both types are more than 99% effective, with fewer than 1 pregnancy per 100 women using them over a year.
  • Immediate Effectiveness: Once inserted, they start working immediately.
  • Low Maintenance: Like implants, IUDs do not require daily attention.

The World Health Organization states that the copper IUD has a failure rate of 0.8%, while hormonal IUDs have a failure rate of 0.2%. Research in the Contraception journal indicated that IUDs are a preferred long-term contraceptive in many developing countries due to their high efficacy and low maintenance. The NDHS 2018 also shows that the prevalence of IUD use among married women in Nigeria is 1.4%.

3. Injectables

Top 5 Effective Family Planning Methods - Injectables

Injectable contraceptives are another effective family planning option. These contraceptives contain hormones that are injected into a woman’s muscle, preventing ovulation for a period of 1 to 3 months.

Their effectiveness stems from several factors:

  • Extended Protection: One injection can provide protection for 1 to 3 months.
  • High Efficacy: Injectables are about 94% effective, with 6 pregnancies per 100 women using them over a year.
  • Discreet: This method is private and does not require daily administration.
  • Convenient: Suitable for women who may have difficulty remembering to take a pill every day.

Injectables are about 94% effective, with 6 pregnancies per 100 women using them over a year. Research shows that the typical-use failure rate of injectables is 6%. In Nigeria, there are the second most popular modern contraceptive method in with a usage rate of 4.7% among married women.


4. Oral contraceptive pills

Top 5 Effective Family Planning - Oral Contraceptive Pills

Oral contraceptive pills are a widely used family planning method. These pills contain hormones that prevent ovulation, but unlike other methods that do not require daily check or intake, this one must be taken daily. However. with perfect use, oral contraceptive pills are more than 99% effective, but with typical use, they are about 91% effective, with 9 pregnancies per 100 women using them over a year.

Oral contraceptive pills are also effective for several reasons:

  • Regulated Cycle: In addition to preventing pregnancy, they can help regulate menstrual cycles. The hormones in the pill can also reduce menstrual cramps and make your period lighter.
  • High Efficacy with Perfect Use: With perfect use, oral contraceptive pills are very effective. All you have to do is stick to your daily pill schedule, and make sure you start your new packs on time. You can also use condoms along with your birth control pills to get extra protection from pregnancy.
  • Non-invasive: Unlike implants or IUDs, pills are non-invasive and easy to stop if a woman decides to become pregnant.
  • Additional Benefits: Both combination and progestin-only pills reduce menstrual cramps, lighten periods, and lower your risk of ectopic pregnancy. The combination pill can also help prevent or lessen acne, bone thinning, cysts in the breasts and ovaries, PMS (premenstrual syndrome). They can even lower the risk of ovarian and endometrial cancers.

5. Sterilization

Top 5 Effective Family Planning Methods - Sterilization

Lastly, male and female sterilization are highly effective and permanent methods of family planning. Male sterilization (vasectomy) and female sterilization (tubal ligation) involve surgical procedures that block or cut the reproductive tubes. Their effectiveness is unparalleled due to:

  • Permanent Solution: Both methods provide a permanent solution to contraception. It protects the woman from pregnancy 24/7 for the rest of her life.
  • High Efficacy: Both methods are over 99% effective. Tubal ligation works so well because it’s permanent, and there’s almost no way you can mess it up or use it the wrong way. 
  • Convenience: After you get sterilized and the doctor says it’s safe for you to have sex without birth control, that’s pretty much it — you never have to use birth control again.
  • Improves sex life: Sterilization is birth control that you don’t have to use during sex, so it won’t interfere with the action.

In summary, implants, IUDs, injectables, oral contraceptive pills, and sterilization are among the most effective family planning methods available. These methods have varying degrees of usage and acceptance in Nigeria, influenced by factors such as accessibility, cultural beliefs, and education. Effective family planning methods are crucial for improving reproductive health, reducing unintended pregnancies, and supporting economic stability. Policymakers and healthcare providers must continue to promote and provide access to these methods to ensure that individuals and couples can make informed decisions about their reproductive health.

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