Planning to Start a Family Soon? | Western Cape Government

Planning to Start a Family Soon?

(Western Cape Government)

Do you and your partner want to start a family? You may want to consider family planning services.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines family planning as the following: allowing individuals and couples to plan for and manage their desired number of children, and the spacing between and timing of each birth. This can be done through the use of contraceptive methods and treatment of involuntary infertility.

Family Planning

Family Planning
Family planning is completely voluntary, and information on various contraceptive methods is given to help individuals make informed choices based on their personal history and physical examination.

Why is Family Planning important?

According to WHO, family planning services bring a wide range of benefits to women, their families and society, such as:

  • Preventing pregnancy-related health risks in women: A woman's ability to space and limit her pregnancies has a direct impact on her health and well-being. Family planning allows spacing of pregnancies and can delay pregnancies in young women at risk of health problems and death from early childbearing.

  • Reduces infant mortality: Family planning can prevent poorly timed pregnances and births. Infants of mothers who die as a result of giving birth have a greater risk of death and poor health.

  • Helps to prevent HIV/AIDS: Family planning reduces the risk of unintended pregnancies among women living with HIV, resulting in fewer infected babies and orphans.

  • Reducing the need for unsafe abortions: By reducing the rates of unintended pregnancies, family planning reduces the need for unsafe abortions, which accounts for 13% of global maternal mortality.

  • Empowers people: Family planning enables people to make informed choices about their sexual and reproductive health.

  • Reducing adolescent pregnancies: Pregnant teenage girls are more likely to have pre-term or low-birth-weight babies. Babies born to adolescents have higher rates of neonatal mortality.

  • Slowing population growth: Family planning is key to slowing unmanageble population growth.

How the Western Cape Government Helps You

The Western Cape Government's Department of Health provides a service that offers counselling on a range of safe, effective and acceptable contraceptive methods from which women, men and teenagers can freely choose to prevent unwanted pregnancies. The service is rendered at most clinics. However, if the method that the client wants is not available, they should ask to be referred to a health facility where the method is available.

Information and Counselling

You will have access to information on various contraceptive methods in order for you to make informed choices. However, if a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) is detected, this will be treated with medication at the clinic or a referral letter may be given to a special clinic. Once a contraceptive method has been chosen, you will be monitored for possible side effects in follow-up visits to the clinic. Any woman can decide if she wants to use contraception. She does not need the permission of her partner or parents. Many clinics now have a dedicated youth service so that young people can get information about family planning in a comfortable environment.


Contraception is used for preventing pregnancy. Contraceptive use has increased in many parts of the world, but continues to be low in sub-Saharan Africa. It is reported that the proportion of married women aged between 15 to 49 using any contraceptive method has risen slightly between 1990 and 2007, from 17% to 28% in Africa.

The use of contraception by men is quite minimal. These methods are limited to sterilisation (vasectomy), condoms and withdrawal.

What are the Methods of Contraception?

  • Oral contraceptives: Commonly known as "the pill", this must be taken daily, and is available free of charge at clinics and hospitals. It does not prevent Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs).

  • Contraceptive injection for women: There are two types: Nur-Isterate, which is given every two months (eight weeks), and DMPA (Depo Provera or Petogen ), which is given every three months (12 weeks). This form of contraception does not prevent STIs.

  • Intrauterine Device (IUD): An IUD is a small device that is put into a women's uterus (womb) by a specially trained health worker. An IUD can prevent pregnancy for at least five years. It does not prevent STIs. If a women or her partner has multiple sex partners, the IUD should not be the method of first choice unless condoms are also used to protect against STIs.

  • Condoms: Available free of charge at clinics (female condoms are available at designated clinics). It is the only single method that offers dual protection from both unwanted pregnancy as well as STIs including HIV/AIDS.

  • Sterilisation: This is a short and simple operation, but is a permanent contraceptive method for both males and females. Any person 18 years or older who is capable of consenting may be sterilised at their request. Bookings can be made at the client's local clinic.

Sterilisation does not prevent STIs. As with all contraceptive methods, there is a small risk of failure.

Who Can I Contact?

Centre Contact Number
Planned Parenthood Association of South Africa (Cape Town) Tel: 021 762 0700
Association for Voluntary Sterilisation of South Africa Tel: 021 531 1665
Marie Stopes (Cape Town) Tel: 021 422 4660 / 0800 11 77 85
Lovelife Call Centre Tel: 0800 121 900

Additional Information
According to WHO, an estimated 200 million couples in developing countries would like to delay or stop childbearing but are not using any method of contraception. In Africa, 22% of married women are at risk of an unplanned pregnancy but are not using contraception; this is only a small decline from numbers a decade earlier (24%).

Source: Department of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO)
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The content on this page was last updated on 23 June 2021