By Moses Kaketo
The number of better-educated and wealthier Ugandan women using traditional family planning (FP) is on the rise- according to the latest study by researchers from Makerere University School of Public Health.
The study reveals that the number of sexually active women in this category has consistently increased over the years -from 4% in 2016 to 6% in 2020.
Meanwhile the use of modern FP methods has either remained the same or increased slightly.
Traditional methods include withdrawal and the rhythm method/periodic abstinence (also known as the calendar method.
Others use folkloric methods like -amulets, beads, herbs, etc.
So, why do these better-off women, with access to modern methods, the greater traditional method users?
According to the study findings, the reasons for the increase vary from poor counselling to misconceptions regarding modern methods.
The information is contained in the 2020 Performance Monitoring for Action (PMA) report, a bi-annual household and facility survey.
The study was done in 122 villages and 4,270 households across the country by a team of researchers from the Makerere University and National Bureau of Statistics.
The study reveals that the quality of FP counselling remains poor or low with only two in five of the current family planning users reporting receipt of comprehensive information on contraceptive methods.
The survey which looked at all sexually active women aged 15 to 49 also reveals that a quarter of facilities that offer implants and 43% of those offering IUD’s do not have a trained provider and instrumental supplies for insertion or removal.
On the other hand, the user’s traditional methods highlight some advantages they have over modern methods. ‘
‘Traditional methods are non-hormonal, and can maintain the appearance of fidelity and sexual self-restraint whereas modern method use may be associated with promiscuity ‘’
Most countries, Uganda inclusive, have made great strides in increasing access to and voluntary use of modern family planning.
However, pernicious, difficult-to-address myths and misconceptions around modern contraception still discourage or prevent more sexually active Ugandan women from beginning or continuing to use a modern method.
This, experts say explains the slow adoption
Dr. Ben Kibirige, a national trainer on sexual reproductive health rights, says inaccurate information about modern contraception is often the product of users and providers attempting to understand the chemical and biological processes that make contraceptives work.
Studies show many modern contraceptives contain hormones that can cause certain side effects in some women. Depending on the method being used, these may include breast tenderness, headaches, weight gain, lack of regular menstrual bleeding, nausea, and/or loss of bone density with continued use over many years.
Dr. Simon Kibira, a lecturer at the university and one of the leaders of the research team says potential side effects [which ca e explained y professionals] often form the basis for a wide range of misconceptions.
For example, a case where women’s ability to bear children is key to their socio-economic status, they frequently fear that the temporary prevention of pregnancy with contraception can lead to permanent infertility with sustained use.
Some women may believe that lack of a monthly period signals a dangerous buildup of blood inside their bodies.
Some believe that nausea that can be caused by an oral contraceptive may be a sign that acid in the pill is burning their stomach or ovaries.
Others believe that contraceptive pills accumulate in some other body organ.
Rumors about contraceptives are also spread by and among women themselves, often through their informal social networks.
A study in Kenya found that young women who were surveyed rarely mentioned health providers as sources of information on contraception; rather, their main sources were peers and community members.
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