Is Family Planning Preventative Care?

Image: photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.netFamily Planning is considered one of the top ten greatest health achievements in the 20th century by the CDC. The services received through Family Planning help prevent sexually transmitted infections, cervical and breast cancer, poor health due to bad eating habits, complications during and after pregnancy, infant sickness and unintentional pregnancy, just to name a few. And yet, despite all this, the debate goes on as to whether or not family planning should be considered preventative care.

Women receive screenings for cancer and STIs (with treatment available for the later), as well as counseling in weight management, social and financial support, early prenatal care and healthy sexual activity. They are educated on every type of contraceptive available to them, including abstinence and natural family planning, and how to properly prevent from contracting STIs in the future. Family Planning also refers women to other programs to complete their health care.

One of the main focuses of Family Planning is to promote healthy pregnancies. A woman can determine and plan her desired timing, spacing and number of children she has to keep her family healthy and happy. She can also choose to pursue and achieve other life goals before starting a family.

The Institute of Medicine states that, “the ability of individuals to determine their family size and the timing and spacing of their children has resulted in significant improvements in health and in social and economic well-being.”

The effects of unintended pregnancies are felt socially, economically and psychologically. According to Healthy People 2010, unintended pregnancies can contribute to high unemployment rates and lack of education, as well as a greater dependency on welfare and an increase in child abuse. It also contributes to raised medical and health care costs.

The preventative aspects of contraceptives cover a variety of additional health issues. Women are prescribed hormonal contraceptives to ease heavy bleeding and pain during menstruation, regulate irregular menstruation and clear up acne. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists points out that hormonal contraceptives, such as the pill, can also protect against health problems such as ovarian cysts, bone loss, anemia, benign breast disease and the symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome.

“Contraception is basic, preventive health care and should be readily available and treated the same as prophylactic therapies for other medical conditions,” states the ACOG.

Millions of women in the U.S. are benefiting in a multitude of ways from the preventative services provided by Family Planning. Many of these women consider this to be their primary source of health care. MFHS is proud to be a family planning provider throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania and  to work to raise awareness about family planning as preventative care throughout our service region.