The idea of birth control is one many women shy away from. This is because our conservative society makes it seem like only promiscuous women use birth control. Asides that, there are also quite a number of women in Nigeria who have experienced shaming when they tried to access birth control— even from doctors and nurses who should know better.
What I find more interesting is the fact that certain public healthcare facilities emphasize that they only offer “family planning” services, as the name implies, to married couples. They do this in a bid to deprive single women of access to birth control. Imagine that! Some of these facilities even go as far as making women produce their husbands when they come to request for family planning options.
However, the truth is this: Every sexually active woman needs to seriously think about birth control as part of taking charge of her reproductive health. Another silent and often misconstrued fact about birth control is that some types of it are actually used as treatment for certain gynecological issues. So the woman you may be quietly judging whenever her alarm (reminding her to take her pill) goes off, might actually be taking the pills to help make her periods regular.
Decreasing Maternal Mortality
There is another very important but underplayed factor. Birth control can have a positive impact on decreasing maternal mortality rate. According to UNICEF, Nigeria loses 145 women to maternal mortality every day. This makes Nigeria the second highest victims of maternal mortality worldwide.
As far as these maternal mortality rates go, birth control offers tremendous improvement. With access to birth control, women are able to plan their pregnancies and as a result have better outcomes. It is not a coincidence that maternal mortality rates are almost negligible in countries where women have better education and access to birth control.
There’s also the fact that unplanned pregnancies keep women below their usual performance margins. This generally impacts their economic well being. So that’s enough reason for us to take birth control seriously.
Why Are We Still Hesitant To Talk About Birth Control?
Some women are reluctant to consider birth control due to the fear that it might have a negative impact on their fertility. But this is hardly the case. The process may sound scary especially when you picture the procedural aspects of it such as injections and devices inserted into the womb. However, we should also remember that condoms are also a form of birth control.
One of the more popular birth control options here in Nigeria is the EMERGENCY pill marketed as Postinor 2. This pill is supposed to be used as a backup plan and not as a primary form of birth control. Ideally Postinor 2 shouldn’t be used more than once in a normal menstrual cycle.
When used properly, condoms have a 98% effectiveness rate of preventing pregnancy. This rate drops when people do not use condoms properly. Condoms also prevent sexually transmitted diseases. However, in the heat of the moment, it’s very easy to forget about condoms. And let’s face it, since men cannot get pregnant, it is not a good idea to leave the burden of birth control entirely to them.
There are many types of birth control options available. And yes, some of them may have unpleasant side effects. Just like with any other medicine. So it is important to discuss at length with a gynecologist when trying to make a decision regarding birth control. More importantly, it is important to own your reproductive health as a woman. Regardless of how people perceive the use of these pills, do it for your health. Do it for the sake of your over all well-being.