Kampala- Researchers at Makerere University have urged the Ministry of Health (MOH) to invest in creating more awareness about natural contraceptive options after a high number of women cited side effects as a reason for stopping use of modern contraceptives.
In a study conducted between 2018 and 2022 in which scientists were assessing factors that influence the use of modern family planning methods among sexually active adults, Dr. Xavier Nsabagasani, a health policy expert based at the School of Public Health says respondents reported intensified sexual desire when they started using an IUD.
An IUD, also known as an intra-uterine contraceptive device or coil is a device inserted in one’s uterus to prevent pregnancy and is among the long-term methods as one can keep an IUD in for up to five years but Nsabagasani says interviewees in this study where he was the Principal Investigator report removing the device before the intended time.
There were 244 participants from eleven districts including Arua, Bududa, Gulu, Iganga, Kabale, Kabarole, Kampala, Kasese, Kotido, Soroti, and Wakiso.
These findings come at a time when Uganda is struggling to hit global contraceptive use target of 50% for modern contraceptive use among women aged 15 to 49 years stands at 35% and yet the country has one of the highest fertility rates on the continent with Ministry of Health figures putting it at 5.4 children per woman.
Also, by 2020, the United Nations had set to have countries reduce their unmet need for modern contraceptives to 10% and Uganda signed this commitment but to date, the country has failed to hit this target. According to findings of a Uganda Bureau of Statistics Survey whose results were released in February, 15% of women in need of these products still can’t get them.
Nsabagasani says the constant failure of contraceptive use to rise and yet studies show there is 99% knowledge of at least one modern contraception method among both women and men should be concerning.
For him, it’s high time the policymakers owned up and solve the problem of side effects other than always disregarding them as mere misconceptions and myths.
He also recommends more research on how side effects can be mitigated and ensure that women use these with minimal or no interruption since some of the complaints are attributable to the quality of products available.
Also, the researcher notes that women need to know other family planning options available and how they can be cautiously used to prevent pregnancy as in the study women reported to have prevented pregnancy through natural ways such as safe days and breastfeeding for up to three years.
However, while responding to these study results, both Dr. Rhoda Wanyenze, the Dean School of Public Health and Dr. Charles Olaro, the Director Curative Services in the ministry of health urged women who experience side effects with a particular product to try another since they don’t tend to give same side effects to different users.
Olaro says the most preferred contraceptive method for women is the injection followed by oral pills. Fewer women prefer long term methods such as the implant and the IUD.