Hesperian Health Guides

Benefits of family planning

Every year, half a million women die of problems from pregnancy, childbirth, and unsafe abortion. Most of these deaths could be prevented by family planning. For example, family planning can prevent dangers from pregnancies that are:

In poor countries about half of all deaths in women of child-bearing age are caused by problems of pregnancy and childbirth. Family planning prevents these pregnancies and deaths.

  • too soon. Women under the age of 18 are more likely to die in childbirth because their bodies are not fully grown. Their babies have a greater chance of dying in the first year.
  • too late. Older women face more danger in child bearing, especially if they have other health problems or have had many children.
  • too close. A woman’s body needs time to recover between pregnancies.
  • too many. A woman with more than 4 children has a greater risk of death after childbirth from bleeding and other causes.

All of the family planning methods found in this chapter are used safely by millions of women.

This chart shows how well each method works to prevent pregnancy and to protect against STIs. The chart also shows the possible side effects for each method and other important information about how the method must be used. Each method has stars to show how well it prevents pregnancy. Some methods have fewer stars because they are often used incorrectly. When a man and a woman use a method correctly every time they have sex, the method will work better.

This page was updated:01 Feb 2021