Contraception as an antidote to high mortality rate

Posted by Maria Codina on October 16, 2017 at 12:43 pm



Sex is a pleasurable act that is enjoyed by two partners, usually male and female. Traditionally, sex and sexual acts are reserved for two mature adults in a committed relationship, preferably a marriage. One of the main functions of sexual intercourse in a marriage is for reproduction. But who are we kidding! Sexual acts are no longer just happening in marriages or committed relationships alone. Nowadays, young adults and teenagers are partaking in all kinds of various sexual acts and this is why it is very important to educate the public on safe sex and contraception use.

Sexual health is the ability to embrace and enjoy our sexuality throughout our lives. Sexual health and reproductive health are intertwined. Most times the act of sex results in a pregnancy, and with a healthy reproductive system, allows you to bring forth healthy children into the world. This is a good thing because for the most part, Nigerians believe that children are a wonderful gift from God. I believe that too! Having said that, unfortunately, sometimes, too much of a good thing can be bad and detrimental to one’s health.

The increase in sexual acts among teenagers and young adults also translates to a high rate of unwanted pregnancies and abortion amongst teenagers and even married couples. In Nigeria alone, 46 million abortions are performed yearly. This increased rate of unwanted pregnancies and unsafe abortions also increases death rate in women and girls. For ten years now, World Contraception Day has been celebrated every September 26 in order to improve awareness of contraception and to enable people to make informed choices on their sexual and reproductive health. Comprehensive sex education and contraception information decreases the rate of unwanted pregnancies and abortions.

The concept of contraception and family planning has been a controversial one. Most times, family planning could be a strange idea to some Nigerians, especially low-income earners and those in the rural areas and remote villages. In fact, some people think it is a sin to even use birth control. Some religions ban the use of any birth control methods while some ethnic groups deem contraception as an influence of Westernization and therefore forbids it. This is an ignorant ideology! Even some husbands forbid their wives to use contraceptives because ‘children are a gift from God,’ yet when the financial pressures set in, same husbands abandon mother and children to fend for themselves. We’ve seen many such forced ‘single mothers’ solicit for help either on social media, television, or even the streets. Tragedies that could have been averted via proper education on contraception and family planning.

Contraception, aka birth control, is the use of various devices, drugs, agents, sexual practices or surgical procedures to prevent conception or pregnancy. Basically, contraceptives prevent the fertilization of the egg by sperm cells. There are traditional and modern methods. Some are Behavioral and requires Periodic abstinence or Withdrawal. We also have the Barrier methods such as male condoms, female condoms, diaphragm, cervical cap, IUD etc. Of all the barrier methods, condoms are the most common because they are affordable and easily accessible and they provide an added bonus because they protect against Sexually Transmitted Infections. Another group of contraception are known as hormonal agents and these include oral pills and injections. Surgical methods also known as sterilization are more permanent methods of birth control and should be done when a couple is absolutely sure that they are not interested in having any more children. Some contraceptives are better and more effective than others, while some have more side effects than others. It is advised to discuss with a doctor to help choose the contraception that is best suited for you based on your physical and medical history.

Abortion is not a contraception method. Contraceptives are preventive; abortion is the termination of a pregnancy by removal of a developing embryo or fetus through chemical or surgical means. Contraception helps prevent unwanted pregnancies, enables people to choose when they want to have a baby and how many children they would like to have. It also helps to promote safe pregnancy and the birth of a healthy baby.

Eighty-five per cent of women who are sexually active, and do not use a contraceptive method, will become pregnant within one year. Evidence has shown that a high death rate is mostly due to high unintended pregnancies and low use or access to contraception. Improved family planning education and access can decrease maternal deaths by 33% and decrease child deaths by 23%. According to a National Demographic Health Survey 2013, only about 15% of sexually active Nigerians used contraception. In 2014 and 2015, that number has risen to 23% and 30% respectively. This is marked progress but still, a large majority of sexually active individuals are not using contraception. There is still more work to be done. Contraception plays an important role in reducing maternal mortality as well as infant death rates and the government needs to increase awareness and encourage the use of contraceptives among all sexually-active age groups.

Disclaimer: The medical information provided on here by Dr. Nini Iyizoba is provided as an information resource only. This information does not create any patient-physician relationship and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment