While children add a rich dimension to married life, there may be times when you want to postpone pregnancy due to health, economic, or career reasons.

Whatever your situation, delaying pregnancy may help to maintain good health or build an unstable relationship. If you do not want to have children in the near future, here are a few family planning recommendations.

  1. Abstinence. While not feasible for married couples, this works great for singles. “Just say no” was a popular slogan decades ago in urging teens to resist peer pressure to use drugs. It works well in supporting non-sexual involvement among young people who are not ready to have a family. There are support groups for teens and others who opt for abstinence in the face of criticism or belittlement. Some schools include abstinence as a viable birth control method while other school systems do not. Certainly, it is the only fool-proof birth control technique without side effects that is currently available.
  2. Birth control medications. “The pill,” which is a form of conjugated estrogen, remains a popular birth control option for many women. Most doctors will prescribe it for patients who have no significant medical history that might interfere with the drug’s effectiveness. Talk with your doctor about its usefulness to you. Applications include daily pills or periodic injections. Skin implants are another possibility.
  3. Coitus interruptus. The “withdrawal” method means that the two bodies disengage before the man’s ejaculation to prevent sperm from reaching the egg. Potential problems include premature ejaculation that may lead to pregnancy and a dissatisfying outcome resulting from a speedy and untimely separation.
  4. Prophylactic intervention. Condom use is frequently promoted to teens and singles. But its effectiveness against pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases are risky, with up to a 15 percent failure rate, leakage, or breakage. Many men do not like using them or forget to buy them. Women’s options include the IUD and cervical ring to protect the ovum (egg) from contact with sperm or to evict the fertilized ovum before it can become implanted in the uterus. A pro-life woman would not want to use the latter (IUD) due to its method of destroying an embryo.
  5. Sterilization. Some methods are reversible while others are not and include tying (and cauterizing or burning) a woman’s Fallopian tubes to isolate the released monthly egg from reaching the uterus, and tying a man’s vesicles to prevent sperm production.
  6. Rhythm method. Charting the woman’s ovulation cycle and planning intimacy around those dates–but not on them–is tricky. Ovulation typically occurs between two menstrual cycles, but pinning the actual date is uncertain. When an ovum is released, it may remain accessible for 48 to 72 hours. Some women have reported getting pregnant during a menstrual cycle. Ovulation can be more accurately charted using a drugstore kit that records changes in body temperature and other indicators. Physical symptoms that tell a woman may be ovulating include a slight increase in body temperature (to about 99 degrees for most women), a slightly thick or sticky discharge, abdominal pain on one side or another, and mild bloating.

Preventing pregnancy is not easy and not without risks, especially over the long duration of a woman’s forty-year child-bearing span. Conferring with your doctor and reviewing all healthy options provides a sensible approach to this challenging issue.

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