Family Planning Terminology

Birth Limiting: Refers to when men or women have completed their family size and do not plan to have any more pregnancies.

Birth Spacing: Refers to when men or women have not yet completed their family size but desire to postpone their next birth.

Contraceptive Continuation Rates: The cumulative probability that acceptors of a contraceptive method will still be using any contraceptive method offered by the program after a specified period of time (e.g., one year).[1]

Contraceptive Prevalence: Percentage of couples currently using a contraceptive method.[2]

Couple-years of protection (CYP): The estimated protection provided by FP services during a one-year period, based upon the volume of all contraceptives sold or distributed free of charge to clients during that period.[3]

Family Planning: Family planning refers to use of modern contraceptives or natural techniques to limit or space pregnancies.[4] Family planning allows individuals and couples to anticipate and attain their desired number of children and the spacing and timing of their births. It is achieved through use of contraceptive methods and the treatment of involuntary infertility. A woman’s ability to space and limit her pregnancies has a direct impact on her health and well-being as well as on the outcome of each pregnancy.[5]

Healthy Timing and Spacing of Pregnancies (HTSP): HTSP is an intervention to help women and families delay or space their pregnancies to achieve the healthiest outcomes for women, newborns, infants, and children, within the context of free and informed choice, taking into account fertility intentions and desired family size.[6]

Informed Choice: Decisions based on accurate information: “The best decisions about family planning are those that people make for themselves, based on accurate information and a range of contraceptive options. People who make informed choices are better able to use family planning safely and effectively.”[7] Programs should support the freedom of individuals to choose voluntarily the number and spacing of their children. Decisions regarding family planning should be based on free choice and not obtained by forms of coercion. Individuals should have access to information on a wide variety of family planning choices, including the benefits and health risks of particular methods.[8]

Method Mix: The percent distribution of contraceptive users (or alternatively, of acceptors) by method.[9]

Total Fertility Rate (TFR): The average number of children that would be born alive to a woman (or group of women) during her lifetime if she were to pass through her childbearing years conforming to the age-specific fertility rates of a given year. This rate is sometimes stated as the number of children women are having today.[10]

Unmet Need: Unmet need for family planning is defined as the percentage of women who do not want to become pregnant but are not using contraception. Though the concept seems straightforward, the calculation can be somewhat complex and has changed over time. To address these issues, DHS revised the definition of unmet need in 2012.[11] The history of unmet need and details of the definitions are explained in DHS Analytical Study No. 25 Revising Unmet Need for Family Planning. You can also find a detailed description of this indicator in the Key Family Planning Impact Indicators and Their Definitions section below. It is also important to note that unmet need in a given country can vary from population to population (ethnic groups, urban/rural, age, parity, etc.).

[6] Extending Service Delivery (ESD) Project. 2008. HTSP 101: Everything you wanted to know about healthy timing and spacing of pregnancy.