Hesperian Health Guides
Educate on family planning and STIs
Many people work in a factory during the period in their lives where they are likely to be most sexually active. It is important that they have information about and access to resources on family planning, sexual health, and how to prevent and treat sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Workers and worker organizations can collaborate with women’s organizations, health workers, nonprofit organizations, and even government health officials to design workshops on:
- early detection of cancer
- family planning
- STI tests and treatments, and prevention
I had never heard of the Pap test until the Chinese Working Women’s Network health van came to our factory zone and offered free exams.
Workshops are most effective when they include discussions and activities that encourage people to explore how work, culture, society, family, and personal preferences affect their reproductive and sexual health. They should also include information on community resources, such as free or low-cost clinics and government programs, and on the best ways to educate and provide services within the factory.
A workers’ health committee can invite organizations that offer free or lowcost STI exams and treatment, maternity care, breast exams, Pap and vinegar tests, and family planning services to your community.
The rest of this chapter provides information on these topics that you can use in workshops. Make sure to talk with women and men at the factory to find out the issues they think are most important for workshops.
|Types of family planning||Preventing
from STIs and HIV
|How often||Other important
||Good||Best||Every time||Most effective when used with a spermicide and a water-based lubricant. A condom needs to be used every time you have sex.|
|Birth control pills
||Very good||None||Every day||Important to take at the same time every day. Talk to a health worker if you have had breast cancer, have high blood pressure or liver disease, or if you are pregnant or nursing.|
||Best||None||3 or 5 years||Must be inserted and removed by a specially trained health worker and replaced every 3 or 5 years depending on the type.|
||Very good||None||1, 2, or 3 months||Need to be repeated every 1, 2, or 3 months depending on the type.|
||Best||None||5 or 12 years||Effective for 5 or 12 years depending on the type. Must be inserted and removed by a specially trained health worker.|
Pulling out (withdrawal)
||Least||None||Every time||The man needs to withdraw every time you have sex. Even if he pulls out, some liquid from the penis may enter the vagina during sex, which can cause pregnancy or pass STIs.|
|Breastfeeding (during the first 6 months only)
||Very good||None||Breastfeeding several times a day and at night||This method is only effective if the woman is feeding her baby only breast milk and if her menstruation has not returned.|
||Good||None||Every time||This method does not work well for women with irregular menstrual cycles.|
|Sex without intercourse (penis not inside vagina)
||Best||Depends||Every time||If the penis is not inside or touching the vagina, the woman cannot get pregnant. Anal sex can easily pass STIs, oral sex is less likely to pass STIs, and sexual touch rarely passes any STIs.|
||Best||None||Once||Once a woman or man is sterilized, they will never become pregnant or get someone pregnant.|
Many women have unwanted pregnancies, especially if their partners, families, communities, or workplaces prevent them from getting family planning information and services or making choices that are best for them.
Prevent pregnancy by using family planning methods described above. Several kinds of emergency family planning or "morning after" pills are available (such as Plan B, Postinor, and others) but they must be used within 5 days of unprotected sex. See Where Women Have No Doctor.
If a woman decides not to continue a pregnancy, she may choose among 3 different methods of abortion if they are available.
Abortion by medicine: Also called medical abortion, the pregnancy is expelled by the woman after taking the medicine misoprostol alone, or both misoprostal and mifepristone. Since nothing is put inside the womb, there is less danger of infection, but it is still best to be near a clinic in case heavy bleeding occurs.
Abortion by suction: Also called vacuum aspiration or MVA, the pregnancy is removed by putting a special tube (cannula) through the vagina into the cervix and sucking the pregnancy into a type of syringe. It can be done in a clinic or doctor’s office in about 10 minutes.
Abortion by scraping: Also called a D and C, the pregnancy is removed by scraping with a small, sharp, spoon-shaped instrument. It is usually done in an operating room in about 20 minutes, and the woman may be given a medicine to make her sleep.
Unsafe abortions can result in infections, pain, infertility, and sometimes even death. But a safe abortion is less likely to cause harm than having a baby. Safe abortions are done:
- by a trained and experienced health worker.
- with proper instruments or medicines.
- under clean conditions. Anything that goes into the vagina and womb must be sterile (without germs).
- no more than 3 months after the last monthly bleeding, unless it is done in a hospital with special equipment.
It is often hard for a woman to decide to have an abortion. Women who want or need an abortion should be treated with respect and dignity. Having a list of safe abortion services in your community can help save women’s lives. You can also help reduce the need for abortion services by increasing information about and access to family planning.