Family planning allows people to attain their desired number of children, if any, and to determine the spacing of their pregnancies. It is achieved through use of contraceptive methods and the treatment of infertility. Contraceptive information and services are fundamental to the health and human rights of all individuals.
The prevention of unintended pregnancies helps to lower maternal ill-health and the number of pregnancy-related deaths. Delaying pregnancies in young girls who are at increased risk of health problems from early childbearing, and preventing pregnancies among older women who also face increased risks, are important health benefits of family planning.
By reducing rates of unintended pregnancies, contraception also reduces the need for unsafe abortion and reduces HIV transmissions from mothers to newborns. This can also benefit the education of girls and create opportunities for women to participate more fully in society, including paid employment.

According to 2017 estimates, 214 million women of reproductive age in developing regions have an unmet need for contraception. Reasons for this include:

  • limited access to contraception
  • a limited choice of methods
  • a fear or experience of side-effects
  • cultural or religious opposition
  • poor quality of available services