Written by Katrina Wu, CNM, MSN
What is a reproductive life plan?
Creating a reproductive life plan is about providing a framework for considering how you want to build your family. With half of pregnancies unplanned in the United States, being thoughtful about how you approach this life season helps you to approach your childbearing years with purpose.
At its core, a reproductive life plan is asking these questions:
- Do you want to have children?
- If so, how many children would you like to have?
- At what timeframe in your life would you like to have them?
- What values guide your approach to family planning?
These questions help women proactively take charge of their fertility and also provide insight into the most appropriate choice for contraception and family planning options.
There’s no, one perfect contraception method for everyone. Are you good at faithfully taking pills every day or would you prefer a method that doesn’t require you to think about it? Do you have any menstrual issues that might improve with taking hormonal contraception, like irregular or heavy periods? How soon do you want to get pregnant? How important is it to you that you have a highly effective method? Discussing your current situation and desires with your healthcare provider can help you find the best fit for you and your current situation. The chart below demonstrates the various contraceptive options available based on their efficacy.
Ways to build families
There are many ways to form your family. Some families are all biologically related, while others form through family blending following a new marriage, still other families are created through adoption. Same-sex families or families who walk a more difficult journey to pregnancy may conceive by donor sperm, donor eggs, or with the help of a surrogate. A reproductive life plan is meant to be fluid and flexible. Having an adjustable plan can help you navigate the unexpected that life brings.
Example of forming a plan
Let’s see how Anna thinks through her own reproductive life plan. She’s a 24 year old who is about to start graduate school and is engaged to be married. They currently use condoms for contraception because birth control pills caused her to have mood swings and feel a little depressed. To begin answering the reproductive life plan questions, they do want to eventually have children – perhaps 2 or 3. They would like to wait to have children for at least 3-4 more years, so that Anna can graduate and be established in her career first. They hope to be done having children by around age 35. Their timeline for having children aligns well with the number of children they want to have. She values contraceptive options that keep her mood steady, and is interested in non-hormonal options. After receiving counseling on all her options, she ultimately decided on a copper intrauterine device (IUD). Because they are not planning to have children for awhile, she liked that she wouldn’t need to remember something daily and that it would be effective for up to ten years. She appreciated that it did not contain any hormones, and that the effectiveness is so high.
By forming a reproductive life plan, you can proactively navigate your childbearing years and achieve your goals for your family.