Research Topic

Family Planning

Photo Credit: Population Council

When women have access to family planning, everyone benefits. Women and children are healthier. Families and communities can invest more in education and health care. And poverty is reduced.

Family planning has the power to save lives, yet 214 million women in the developing world who don’t want to be pregnant aren’t using modern contraception. They may lack access to contraceptive options, may face family or community opposition to family planning, or may be concerned about potential or real side effects. 

For 65 years, the Population Council has been changing the way the world thinks about voluntary family planning. Today, there is renewed global support for high-quality programs that provide information, services, and contraceptive supplies—and the Council plays an important role in expanding access to these programs.

We help design the most effective voluntary family planning services worldwide.

For example, the Council is leading a five-country, six-year research consortium to generate policy-relevant evidence that improves access to family planning in Bangladesh, Ghana, India, Kenya, and Senegal. And the Council has recently been awarded USAID’s flagship program, called EVIDENCE, to undertake implementation research for strengthening family planning programs throughout sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

We develop, test, and introduce new contraceptive options.

The Council developed and introduced three of the world’s most effective and popular contraceptive methods: the copper T IUD; the Norplant® and Jadelle® implants; and the LNG-IUS. Most recently, Council researchers have developed Annovera™ (segesterone acetate and ethinyl estradiol vaginal system), the first and only contraceptive that provides an entire year of protection against unintended pregnancy while fully under a woman's control. Our researchers are also evaluating the acceptability of the progesterone vaginal ring, another Council-developed, user-controlled contraceptive for lactating women, and exploring how best to introduce this new technology in key countries in Africa.

We work with partners around the world to advance the goal of universal access to reproductive health services.

The Council leads and participates in working groups, commissions, and coalitions—such as the Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition’s Market Development Approaches Working Group, the UN Commission on Lifesaving Commodities for Women and Children, and FP2020. The Council also collaborates with WHO’s Department of Reproductive Health and Research and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). These partnerships are improving the delivery of family planning information, contraceptives, and reproductive health services.

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