Family planning

Kenya: Data Shows More Women Are Choosing Natural Family Planning Methods

Natural family planning has become a preferred method for women in the country even as the use of modern contraceptives among married women increases by 5%.

According to the Ministry of Health’s Reproductive and Maternity Services Unit, as part of family planning methods, about 63,785 women (10%) were using natural methods in August, including abstinence or day monitoring. without risk.

Of those using modern methods, a majority of women (760,800) used the injection method, followed by male condoms 251,712, the combined oral contraceptive pill (COC) had 219,138 users, 153,541 women used implants ( two rods), while the progestin-only contraceptive pill method had 87,133 users.

The use of short-term action methods increased from 23% in 2019 to 27% in 2020, while the use of long-term methods increased from 20% to 19%.

The demand satisfied by modern methods has increased from 74% to 76%. This means that out of 10 women who needed modern family planning in 2020, eight were able to obtain the methods.

The report also indicates that married women use modern contraceptives more than their unmarried counterparts, at 58% in 2019 and 62% in 2020, compared to 56 and 61%, respectively.

Out of stock

However, with the increase in the number of women using modern methods, commodity stock-outs remain a problem in public and private health facilities, with many commodities not yet delivered as of last month.

According to the data, only about four methods were in stock and not enough for the whole country. The only method available that would last in the country for the next 34 months is the COC. There is less than two months of inventory of intrauterine devices. The other methods — implants, emergency contraceptive pills, injections, cycle beads, and progestin-only pills — are out of stock.

Could this be the reason more women are now choosing to go the natural route?

Mildred Atieno, who missed the method she really wanted, chose to try natural family planning, and for three years now she has never used a modern method, despite having conceived her third child at a time when she was not ready.

“I made trips to public hospitals and whenever my favorite method, the non-hormonal copper coil, was always out of stock, the hormonal ones made me bleed, so I started using the pearl removal and cycling methods,” she said. noted. At some point, she lost count of her days of security and became pregnant.

regular cycle

“This method is only good when you have a regular cycle and are smart about counting the days, otherwise, if you’re forgetful, you might end up conceiving when you’re not ready,” he said. she declared.

Professor Peter Gichangi, senior researcher at Performance Monitoring for Action (PMA) Kenya, said traditional methods were just as important because some people still benefit from them.

“It’s usually an individual choice. If couples agree to use either safe periods or the withdrawal method, then it’s fine,” said Professor Gichangi, who is also a senior researcher at the International Center for reproductive health in Kenya.

Natural methods have no side effects. They include the lactational amenorrhea method, coitus interruptus (withdrawal), calendar method or rhythm method, cervical mucus method, and abstinence.

“Women may choose to use these methods because they have a religious objection to contraception or because they prefer to use a method without hormones. However, these methods are less effective than modern contraception,” said Dr. Gichangi.

As more women are aware of modern methods and their adoption is increasing from 40% to 46% among all women, some of those who opt for natural methods may be doing so out of fear of side effects.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) confirm Professor Gichangi’s assertion that traditional methods are not as effective as other birth control methods. It says the failure rate is 24%, which means about two in 10 women who use natural family planning will become pregnant.

“You must be careful, diligent and have a lot of self-control to practice natural family planning. You must follow the instructions exactly to be successful. If you do not have regular periods, it is not advisable to practicing this method of family planning,” the CDC states.

Dr. Gilchrist Lokoel, Turkana County Medical Services Director, added that in some parts of the world, culture has made it difficult for some women to use modern family planning.

“Traditional methods are accepted although they are not as effective as modern methods and cannot be used by everyone. You must study your body carefully. To avoid unwanted pregnancies, it is advisable choose a method that works best for you,” said Dr. Lokoel.

With the Covid-19 pandemic, access to family planning services fell by 4% in 2020, the Ministry of Health revealed. Some of the services that have been discontinued include information sharing, distribution of family planning commodities, counseling and assessment.

However, the ministry has not established why there has been a decline in access to these services.

The head of family health at the Ministry of Health, Dr Estella Waiguru, said it could be due to Covid-19 and fear of the unknown.

“Women may not have sought these services out of fear of contracting Covid-19. They may have avoided hospitals, but this is only speculation. We have not yet investigated why this drop has happened. When research is done then we can find out what exactly caused the drop,” she told Sunday Nation.

This year’s theme for World Contraception Day, which is celebrated today, is Leave No One Behind, and the government has said it plans to reach out to vulnerable and marginalized populations to enable them to access to family planning services.

“Some people with disabilities may not benefit from services, so we want to include them and make sure there is equal access for all,” Dr Waiguru said.

“Even though we plan to reach marginalized areas such as parts of northeastern Kenya where uptake is quite low, we will ensure that family planning remains a voluntary service. We will not coerce anyone into taking a product that he is not willing to do it,” she added.

However, some stakeholders feel that men are being left behind in the family planning debate.

Dan Otieno, who works with the Network for Adolescents and Youth in Africa, said the inclusion of men will be in tandem with this year’s theme.

Excluded

“Men are excluded from the topic of contraceptives. We want this year to have inclusive family planning,” he said. “This way, we will avoid unwanted pregnancies because, in the end, it is the girls who bear the most. It can lead to abortion, and because our laws do not provide for abortion unless unless for special medical reasons, unsafe abortions can cause permanent harm to the girl child.”

During the commemoration of the day at the Sarova Panafric Hotel in Nairobi on Friday, Dr. Dan Okore of the United Nations Population Fund said plans were underway to ensure family planning services were accessible even at beyond the usual hours.

“It is quite unfair that family planning services are restricted to certain times. We are piloting a program in western Kenya to ensure that people have round-the-clock service,” Dr Okore said.

He also noted that scaling up and training health human resources can be helpful in ensuring people get essential family planning services.