It is a common phenomenon for a university girl in Nairobi to walk into a chemist and leave with the morning after pill. You'd think that as an individual whos is considered as an elite of the society, she would subscribe to a reliable contraceptive method. This, however is not the case. It is estimated that in Nairobi alone, a huge number of girls cannot access the right kind of contraceptives as much as they flock the markets. This can be attributed to their pricey nature and ignorance.
The average ages for contraceptives usage in the country are 15–39 years. Most of them who are using one form of contraceptive or the other. Injectables, implants and oral contraceptives are the common methods of contraceptives. This comes with at a price. According to research, most contraceptive users recorded that their method might cause serious health problems, impair future childbearing and was unsafe to use for a long time; higher proportions (25–50%) reported that their method use caused unpleasant side effects. Compared to unplanned pregnancies and the burden that is childbearing, the side effects are mostly endured. The main hindrance to contraceptive use is the belief system in this part of the world. Most partners are against contraceptive usage because of a myriad of reasons. The main reason according to research is that contraceptive can cause a number of issues the main being infertility.
Safe sex is what everyone is gearing towards is not a guarantee. This is because contraceptives are expensive in the market. Finding a suitable contraceptive is not easy. Most women gravitate to birth control methods because of hearsay, a process which is termed as dangerous by health practitioners. Individuals react differently to family planning methods hence the need for a check-up by a specialist. Gynaecology and obstetrician services are among the most expensive medical services in the country. A consultation to the gynaecologist averagely costs 4000 Kenyan shillings. It's not free and often not cheap. The common mwananchi leaves of 5 dollars hence it beats logic when families buy food, instead of finding a birth control method that works.
Oral contraceptives are the most commonly used or sometimes abused by most women. This can be blamed on the fact that they are easily sold over the counter. However, they have been proven to have adverse side effects on women. The birth control pill may require a monthly cost or copay, and therefore may not be affordable for all women. Contraceptives like everything else have a downside, among them;
- Taking a pill every day may be difficult for some people. If one misses a pill, you may need to use another form of birth control (i.e., condom and/or spermicide) during your cycle. An IUD may be a better option for anyone who will have trouble taking the pill.
- The birth control pill does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases. Only a condom can protect from sexually transmitted diseases.
- The pill has a <1% failure rate (meaning less than 1 out of 100 women unintentionally become pregnant) if used correctly. However, for women who miss taking their pills, the failure rate goes up to roughly five per cent, or 5 out of 100 women become pregnant unintentionally.
- There can be drug interactions that may lower the effectiveness of birth control pills. One is advised to inquire about the different drugs they are taking to avoid this interference.
- Spotting (breakthrough bleeding) may occur (mid-cycle) for the first few months of birth control use as your body adjusts to the changes in hormone levels. Breakthrough bleeding may be worse with extended- or continuous-cycle birth control pills or with progestin-only pills.
- Birth control pills can cause breast pain or vaginal dryness; these side effects may continue with the use or subside.
Conversations around contraceptives need to happen boldly. Partners need to get involved as it shouldn't be a woman only struggle.