By Habibah A. Taiwo
Hussaina, 25, said though she wanted to space her children, she was still very wary of using contraceptives up till last year.
She had heard that it is difficult for women to conceive after using contraceptives and that it makes women fat.
However, when she visited the hospital, she learnt that there are many types available. Through guidance from her physician, she was able to pick one that was suitable for her and take into consideration her other health issues. She is amazed she has not felt any negative reaction or experiences since.
Nigeria’s population is growing at an alarming rate due to ignorance of family planning and the use of contraceptives in some households. The responsibilities of health practitioners are key to educating the public about the use of contraceptives to space childbirth which is safe for women and will also help the nation to check overpopulation.
Dr Zahra’u Ahmed, a reproductive health specialist, defines contraceptives as devices used to prevent pregnancy.
She said contraceptives have many benefits for women which can generally be divided into:
– Health benefits and;
– Socio-economic benefits.
In the case of health benefits, contraceptives help a woman to reduce the chances of developing diseases and death from pregnancy-related causes.
Another health benefit of contraceptives for women is that pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding are really tasking on the body of women and the use of contraceptives buys time for their body to heal and recover in-between pregnancies.
However, the health benefits are not restricted to the mother alone as the child born by the woman is also well cared for by giving it all the care and attention it needs before conceiving another child.
Such children survive better and have low risks of morbidity and mortality.
Dr Zahra’u said: “Socio-economically, with the use of contraceptives a woman has time to further her education and gain employment and bringing more income to the family.”
She said contraceptives usage also helps the family have fewer children thereby putting less strain on its income.
It affords parents the opportunity to adequately care for the children by giving them good nutrition, education, clothing and other means of livelihood.
She, therefore, advised women to use contraceptives because of their many benefits.
She added that sometimes a doctor may prescribe contraceptives for other benefits such as control of menstrual bleeding, acne, hormonal imbalance etc.
On the prevalence of women’s use of contraceptives in Nigeria, she said: “According to National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) 2018, we’re at 17 per cent for all methods. Which is quite low.”
The reproductive health specialist added that: “There’s no one size fits all on the method to use. Like I tell women, contraception is like dating; what works for you may not work for a friend. Some may fit from the beginning, and some will break up and change to another.
“Contraceptives are like that; some methods may not fit due to individual interests or health challenges. I advise women to see a professional and see methods that are suitable for them.”
She said there are many beliefs and myths on the use of contraceptives, among Nigerian women.
She said the common ones are that they cause infertility, cancer and even death.
Some women believe that lack of menstruation makes the blood accumulate inside a woman.
However, she said the most important thing women should know is that there are many methods, and each one has its side effects which are not the same in all women.
She said women should disregard all the hearsay and consult professional medical doctors to get professional advice. “They should also ensure to get full information about the method they are considering before use,” she said.
Dr Ahmed said contraception is good for the child, family and community and nation.
Women “should consider using them for birth spacing and control,” she advised.