Practical methods for spacing families

Family PlanningHealth EducationMaternal Healthcare

There are many ways of helping couples to space their families. The most suitable method depends on what is available, the needs of the couple, and on their beliefs about which methods are appropriate.

It is important first to understand how a baby is made. Each month a woman’s body produces an egg. This lives for just a few days but takes a week to pass down to the womb. If it meets with a sperm released from the husband’s body during sexual intercourse, the egg may become fertilised. About half of all fertilised eggs fail to attach themselves to the womb. As with the unfertilised eggs, they pass out of the woman’s body during her monthly bleeding. If a fertilised egg does become firmly attached to the wall of the womb, in most cases it will then develop into a baby.

Some Christians do not feel that any artificial methods should be used to prevent fertilisation. Others do not feel happy with methods which prevent a fertilised egg implanting in the womb. Others believe that, since so many eggs are lost naturally, these methods are acceptable. The modern medical definition is that:


Each couple should have the opportunity to learn about the different methods and decide what will be right for them.

Methods vary in how effective they are. Some will provide almost complete protection from pregnancy. Other methods are not so reliable but may be helpful in spacing births when more children are wanted.


1. Temporary methods

The woman takes a pill every day, which contains a hormone preventing eggs from being produced. She must remember to take the pill at the same time each day. A few women find this method makes them feel unwell, but they can usually change to a different kind of pill.

Using this method, 1 out of 100 women will become pregnant in any year.