Healthy Timing and Spacing of Pregnancy (HTSP)

Group of mothers waiting with their children in the waiting room of a public health facility in Nigeria.

Healthy Timing and Spacing of Pregnancy (HTSP) encompasses preventive health behaviors that can be successfully carried out using a number of different modern contraceptive methods. These include pills, implants, emergency contraception, Lactational Amenorrhea Method, Standard Days Method, condoms (which offer dual protection against pregnancy and HIV), long-acting reversible methods, and permanent methods. HTSP may be practiced to delay a woman’s first pregnancy, to space subsequent pregnancies, or to avoid pregnancy among women of advanced age and women of high parity.

By helping women avoid unintended pregnancies and high parity/high age pregnancies, family planning has the potential to reduce maternal mortality by approximately 30-40% (Cleland 2012).

By helping women space pregnancies at least 24 months apart, family planning has the potential to reduce child mortality by approximately 20% (Cleland 2012).

Increasing awareness of the benefits of HTSP among policy makers, providers, and community members can contribute to increasing the use of modern contraceptive methods and preventing the deaths of millions of mothers and children by 2020.

This course will give you the information you need to become an effective champion for HTSP.


By the end of this course, you will be able to do the following:

  • Define HTSP and its key concepts 
  • Explain the benefits of HTSP, including the prevention of mortality and morbidity risks associated with high-risk pregnancies: too-early, high-age, short-interval, long-interval, and high-parity pregnancies
  • Identify key programmatic elements and incorporate proven tools for effective HTSP programming


The first version of this course was published in May 2011 with the assistance of Allison Zimmerman at USAID and Cate Lane at the Extending Service Delivery Project, who provided helpful data on youth issues.

This version of the course was updated by Irina Yacobson and Lisa Mwaikambo on behalf of K4Health. It's been updated in line with USAID’s Acting on the Call: Ending Preventable Child and Maternal Deaths. We would like to thank Peggy D'Adamo and Maureen Norton of USAID for this important review and feedback.


  • 2 hours


  • Monday, October 24, 2016

Course Authors: 

  • Irina Yacobson, FHI 360

  • Maureen Norton, USAID

Course Managers: 

  • Lisa Mwaikambo, CCP

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