Hesperian Health Guides

Chapter 9: Family planning

Every day 20,000 people visit the HealthWiki for lifesaving health information. A gift of just $5 helps make this possible!

Make a giftMake a gift to support this essential health information people depend on.


HealthWiki > A Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities > Chapter 9: Family planning


a disabled woman with a man and 2 children.

Women are healthier when they can decide for themselves when to have sex and when to have children. These decisions should always be their choice, and women who use family planning are better able to make these choices. You can use family planning to:

a woman speaking.
Every woman will be healthier if she can decide for herself when to have sex and when to have children.
  • help you decide how many children you want to have and when to have them.
  • prevent becoming pregnant unless you want to.
  • help you and your partner enjoy sex more because you do not have to worry about getting pregnant.


Some family planning methods have other benefits. For example:

  • condoms protect against sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS.
  • hormonal methods can help with irregular bleeding and pain during your monthly bleeding.


Unfortunately, many women around the world are denied access to family planning or to the methods they prefer. This happens for many reasons. Some people believe family planning is dangerous to a woman’s health. But the main reason is that religious and political authorities do not believe women should decide for themselves when and how to use family planning.

It can be even more difficult for women with disabilities to get information or access to practice family planning. Many people, including some health workers, believe women with disabilities cannot have sex or become pregnant, and do not give them any information or advice.

This chapter gives information about different types of family planning methods and how to choose the best method for you.

a disabled woman reading a poster that lists family planning methods: condom, diaphragm, pills, IUD, and others.
Which family planning method should I choose?

Before you decide which method of family planning to use, look at the chart on the following page to see how well each method prevents pregnancy. You may also want to consider the following:

  • What methods are available in my community?
  • How easy is it to use the method?
  • Are there any risks to my health with the method?
  • Is my partner willing to use family planning?
  • Will my disability affect the method I use?

Where many family planning methods are available, women make choices depending on ease of use, cost, their bodies, the work they do, and what they and their partners prefer. Even if some of these methods are not available in your community, you can learn about them and talk with the local health workers about trying to make them available. You may be able to educate them!